PARKERSBURG - Many residents without power this week found themselves at local laundromats, where the air conditioning offered a cool place to escape the heat while taking care of the dirty laundry.
Gary's Coin Laundry on St. Marys Avenue was full of customers on the Fourth of July. Some had never stepped foot in a laundromat before the storms last weekend that knocked out power to thousands.
"We have a generator, but it's just not strong enough to power a washer and dryer," said Rebecca Gibson, of Walker. "This is actually the first time I've been inside a laundromat."
Photo by Natalee Seely
Gary’s Coin Laundry on St. Marys Avenue was filled with customers Tuesday and Wednesday who took advantage of the commercial washers and dryers and air conditioning.
While the trip into Parkersburg may have been an inconvenience, the large commercial washers and dryers made the trip worthwhile, she said.
"I probably have to do about seven or eight loads, but I can do them all at the same time. And those big dryers - you can fit so much in there," said Gibson.
During her trip to the laundromat Wednesday, Gibson said she would probably spend about $20 doing laundry.
"It has to get done somehow," she said.
Samantha Davis, of Parkersburg, brought in four loads of whites and two loads of darks, along with a plastic bag full of quarters.
"I feel like a college student again," she said. "I've been here once already, but I have two messy kids."
Davis said having a functioning washer and dryer is just one of the conveniences she has missed since the power went out in her home last Friday evening.
"I miss ice. I miss cable TV," she said. "I would come here and do laundry three times a week if it meant I could have cable television again."
Tim Jones, manager at Gary's Coin Laundry, said the place has been crowded since the storm, and more people were coming in late at night to do laundry.
"We are open 24 hours a day, so it gives people the option of bringing in their laundry after they work a late shift or a midnight shift," Jones said Wednesday. "The power was out here until Monday afternoon, so we were actually closed over the weekend."
The laundromat has been busy ever since the power came back on, he said.
"The crowds haven't really died down much," said Jones. "We have maintenance staff coming in for three shifts a day to clean the place and keep it in order. Most of the time, our machines have been pretty full. We have 25 washers and 25 dryers."
In Belpre, Pioneer Clothing Care on Washington Boulevard also drew large crowds. Many customers relaxed with a magazine or watched television while waiting for their clothes to dry.
Justin Koon, of Waverly, said he planned on spending about an hour at the laundromat Wednesday.
"I brought in just the most important stuff, the rest of it can wait," he said. "I've been spending a lot of time in Parkersburg with some friends who have power, but they don't have a washing machine. So I'm on my own there."
Meghan Richards, of Morgantown, was visiting her parents in Wood County over the weekend when the power went out. She brought two loads of laundry with her, planning on using her parents' washer and dryer before heading back to Morgantown on Thursday.
"I would have taken my clothes to a laundromat in Morgantown anyway, so I guess this is no different," said Richards. "I'm actually just glad to get out of the hot house for a while and sit in the air conditioning. I brought some books - I don't mind the wait."