Power outages could last for days

  • Mike Wolfe's pickup truck lies under a fallen tree in front of his house after a severe storm in Falls Church, Va., Saturday, June 30, 2012. Wolfe's daughter created the "for sale" sign as a joke. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)Mike Wolfe's pickup truck lies under a fallen tree in front of his house after a severe storm in Falls Church, Va., Saturday, June 30, 2012. Wolfe's daughter created the "for sale" sign as a joke. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
  • A worker uses a chainsaw to clear a tree that fell onto the 14th fairway at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Saturday, June 30, 2012, after a strong storm blew through overnight. The AT&T National golf tournament was postponed to allow workers to clear the course. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)A worker uses a chainsaw to clear a tree that fell onto the 14th fairway at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Saturday, June 30, 2012, after a strong storm blew through overnight. The AT&T National golf tournament was postponed to allow workers to clear the course. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
  • An American Beech tree is down on Capitol Hill grounds in Washington on Saturday, June 30, 2012, across the U.S. Supreme Court after a powerful storm swept across the Washington region late Friday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)An American Beech tree is down on Capitol Hill grounds in Washington on Saturday, June 30, 2012, across the U.S. Supreme Court after a powerful storm swept across the Washington region late Friday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
  • A downed tree blocks a sidewalk in northwest Washington on June 30, 2012. More than two million people across the eastern U.S. lost power after violent storms hit the region. (Associated Press)A downed tree blocks a sidewalk in northwest Washington on June 30, 2012. More than two million people across the eastern U.S. lost power after violent storms hit the region. (Associated Press)
  • A closed sign is placed on the door at Community Bank on Saturday, June 30, 2012, in Staunton, Va. (AP Photo/The News Leader, Pat Jarrett)A closed sign is placed on the door at Community Bank on Saturday, June 30, 2012, in Staunton, Va. (AP Photo/The News Leader, Pat Jarrett)
  • Lightning crackles through the sky above Thornrose Cemetery on Friday, June 29, 2012, in Staunton, Va. (AP Photo/The News Leader, Pat Jarrett)Lightning crackles through the sky above Thornrose Cemetery on Friday, June 29, 2012, in Staunton, Va. (AP Photo/The News Leader, Pat Jarrett)
  • A fallen tree blocks one lane of traffic on 13th Street NW in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, Saturday, June 30, 2012. Violent evening storms following a day of triple-digit temperatures wiped out power to more than 2 million people across the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)A fallen tree blocks one lane of traffic on 13th Street NW in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, Saturday, June 30, 2012. Violent evening storms following a day of triple-digit temperatures wiped out power to more than 2 million people across the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  • A worker uses a chainsaw to clear branches from a tree that fell onto the 14th fairway at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Saturday, June 30, 2012, after a strong storm blew through overnight. The AT&T National golf tournament was postponed to allow workers to clear the course. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A worker uses a chainsaw to clear branches from a tree that fell onto the 14th fairway at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Saturday, June 30, 2012, after a strong storm blew through overnight. The AT&T National golf tournament was postponed to allow workers to clear the course. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
  • Workers use a golf cart to carry branches from a tree that fell onto the 14th fairway at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Saturday, June 30, 2012, after a strong storm blew through overnight. The AT&T National golf tournament was postponed to allow workers to clear the course. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Workers use a golf cart to carry branches from a tree that fell onto the 14th fairway at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Saturday, June 30, 2012, after a strong storm blew through overnight. The AT&T National golf tournament was postponed to allow workers to clear the course. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
  • A tree toppled by severe storms sits atop a car in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood on Saturday, June 30, 2012, in Washington. More than two million people across the eastern U.S. lost power after violent storms and two people died, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in bed when a tree slammed into her home, a police spokeswoman said Saturday. (AP Photo/Jessica Gresko)

A tree toppled by severe storms sits atop a car in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood on Saturday, June 30, 2012, in Washington. More than two million people across the eastern U.S. lost power after violent storms and two people died, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in bed when a tree slammed into her home, a police spokeswoman said Saturday. (AP Photo/Jessica Gresko)
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Meanwhile, officials focused on the most vulnerable residents: children, the sick and the elderly.

In Charleston, W.Va., firefighters helped several people using walkers and wheelchairs get to emergency shelters. One of them, David Gunnoe, uses a wheelchair and had to spend the night in the community room of his apartment complex because the power — and his elevator — went out. Rescuers went up five floors to retrieve his medication.

Some sought refuge in shopping malls, movie theaters and other places where the air conditioning would be cranked up. Others simply tried to make the best of a bad situation.

In the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Dublin, Lori Schaffert said her household borrowed a generator from a friend and was alternating it between the refrigerator and freezer while using flashlights and battery-operated lanterns for light. Her 5-year-old daughter and a neighbor friend played board games and helped her make pickles from their garden’s cucumbers.

“You come to appreciate the simple life a little more in these times,” Ms. Schaffert said.

Some major online services also saw delays and disruptions.

Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest resorted to using Twitter and Facebook to update subscribers after violent storms across the East caused server outages for hours. Netflix and Pinterest restored service by Saturday afternoon.

Instagram used its Facebook fan page to communicate with users of its photo-sharing service. It posted a message on Saturday morning that blamed the electrical storm for the outage that sent its engineers scrambling to restore service.

Associated Press writers Vicki Smith in Morgantown, W.Va.; Larry O’Dell in Richmond; Pam Ramsey in Charleston, W.Va.; Jonathan Drew in Atlanta; and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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