U.S. Celebrates July 4 Amid Power Outages and Scorching Heat

Hundreds of thousands of people from the U.S. Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic spent the Fourth of July like America’s founders did in 1776, without electricity and air conditioning.

Fireworks begin as the Killers perform on the South Lawn of the White House. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House

Storm-ravaged states from Indiana to Virginia carried on Independence Day celebrations on Day 5 of a power outage caused by deadly winds ripping through the region, reports Reuters.

More than 1 million homes and businesses remained affected and thousands of utility workers stayed on the job in a scramble to restore electricity.

Barbecues were cancelled around the country or moved to homes with power. Vacation plans were altered. A lot of residents without power said they weren’t in a holiday mood.

And even some whose power had been restored said they had run out of steam to celebrate in the way they had planned.

Out West, extreme warmth together with dry conditions snuffed out annual fireworks displays in scores of towns and cities, which are reeling from deadly wildfires that charred hundreds of homes and displaced tens of thousands of people.

According to CBC, the death toll blamed on storms and the ensuing blackout across the eastern U.S. is now at 26 after two accidents in Virginia.

In New Jersey, Atlantic City Electric says nearly 31,000 homes and businesses were still without service. That’s down from about 206,000.

Around 177,000 Virginia homes and businesses remain without power after last weekend’s storms, down from a peak of about 1.2 million.

In Rockville, Md., officials called off their celebration because trees and wires were blocking two of the three entrances to the college campus where fireworks were planned.

Pepco officials said they expected to have power restored to more than 90 percent of the utility’s customers by Wednesday night. That is days earlier than the utility had announced previously.

“This is the worst outage we’ve ever had,” said Jeri Matheny, spokeswoman for Appalachia Power, which serves most of southern West Virginia. “We’ll end up rebuilding large pieces of an infrastructure system in five to seven days that took decades to build.”

However, the sweltering temperatures couldn’t wilt the patriotic spirit that drew crowds to hometown parades of marching bands, shiny fire trucks and children riding red, white and blue bedecked bicycles.

“America to me is small towns, kids, lollipops thrown from fire engines, balloons, dogs in the parade and hot dogs,” said E.B. Kelly, 73, as she watched the 10-minute long procession in tiny Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

President Barack Obama addressed in Washington two dozen foreign-born U.S. military personnel who were sworn in as citizens at the White House under a program that offers citizenship in return for service.

“What a perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday – the world’s oldest democracy – with some of our newest citizens,” he told the members, who came from countries including Mexico, the Philippines, Bolivia, Ghana, Guatemala and Russia.

The National Archives celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence and later one of the biggest fireworks shows went ahead as planned despite the threat of a thunderstorm.

Despite the heat index topped 100 F again, the National Mall was crowded with holiday revelers in festive hats and holding umbrellas and fans. They milled about the parched grounds and flocked to stations offering free filtered water.

“It’s a little unbearable, but we do have the shade. We have water. Just try not to think about it,” Ella Van Nort of Hyattsville, Maryland, said with a slight giggle.

Just after 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT), fireworks launched over the Washington Monument thundered skyward as the National Symphony Orchestra simultaneously delivered a signature Independence Day rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.