Central Virginia Begins Cleaning Up after Rare Derecho

June 30, 2012

Friday night's quick-moving storms caught many by surprise and left much debris behind. Many spent the day Saturday cleaning up and assessing the damage in the extreme heat.

"There's pretty much trees everywhere," said Thomas McFarlane, who was driving through Albemarle County in the heart of the storms. "You can't really see the road. There's so much debris all over the road that you can't really see what's what."

Tree limbs and power lines littered many streets throughout central Virginia, all thanks to heavy winds from Friday's derecho. The cleanup began Saturday morning, as tens of thousands remained without power 24 hours after the storms hit.

"Being outside actually is cooler than being in my apartment," Charlottesville resident Brianna Valdez said. "And driving places because there's air conditioning in the car."

Valdez said there was little relief as she slept in her apartment without air conditioning in the warm conditions.

"I was looking at the fan and hoping it would turn on because it was really hot and disgusting out, and I felt like I was sweating in every part of the apartment," she said.

Across town, two trees fell on two different houses -- one on Shamrock Road and another on Crestmont Avenue. No one was hurt in either incident.

Saturday afternoon, crews were still at work trying to clear area roads. At its peak, more than 250 roads in Virginia contained debris preventing traffic from traveling through. High Street in Charlottesville was one of them, with a tree blocking access.

Even with no power and excessive heat, some cooling centers set up throughout the area remained mostly empty.

"I think it's supposed to get really hot today, and there's a lot of concerns with health issues and that sort of thing. This would be the best place for them to be," said Lora Smith of the Albemarle County Department of Social Services.

Smith helped to set up a shelter at Burnley-Moran Elementary School, which didn't see many visitors but did offer a place to cool down.

With many trees down and power lights out, the cleanup continues into Saturday and for the next few days as the summer storm inconveniently strikes during one of the hottest days of the year.

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