- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2003

Sometimes people just want to take a shower.

The Olney Indoor Swim Center became a shower depot yesterday for residents wanting to clean up after Hurricane Isabel knocked out power to nearly 1 million Washington-area residents.

“They stated coming on Thursday and kept coming until Montgomery County shut us down because the weather was too bad,” said Larry Noel, assistant manager at the swim center.

The center reopened Friday after the storm passed. And the more people awoke without power, the more people came for showers.

About 105,000 Montgomery County residents were still without power last night, said a Potomac Electric Power Co. spokesman.

He also said some customers could be without power until Friday.

The swim center charges $4 for children and $5.50 for adults for pool admission and use of the locker-room showers.

The pool initially did not charge patrons to use the showers, but management could not keep track of who was swimming and who simply wanted to lather up.

“If the pool was not open, it would not be an issue,” Mr. Noel said.

Robyn Klein, 45, of Brookeville, lost power on Thursday and came to the swim center with daughters Sofi,12, and Lili, 13, and their friend Alex Cecil, 12, just to get out of a dark house.

“We had to throw everything in the fridge away, and I have not had a shower since Thursday,” said Mrs. Klein, her hair pulled back tightly in a ponytail.

She also said the worst problem was the toilets. They can’t be flushed because the house is on well water that runs on electricity.

Mrs. Klein filled two bathtubs with water before the storm struck. She also took one last shower at home before Isabel hit.

“I figured it was going to be the last one in a while,” she said.

Mrs. Klein said the children amused themselves by playing with their new golden retriever puppy, but life got a little frantic after two days in the dark.

“Friday was not fun,” said Sofi, who invited friends over to relieve her boredom. “Sitting around alone is worse than sitting around with a friend.”

Bob Goldman, 56, of Meadowside, came to the swim center to shower after mowing the lawn.

Mr. Goldman is not on well water, but he thought a shower at the swim center would be better than a dark, cold one at home.

He said the power outage has not been so bad.

“You learn to communicate with family again,” said Mr. Goldman, who has been helping his teenage daughter practice the guitar.

“It has been OK, but it is getting old,” he said.

Others were less gracious.

“It is horrible,” said Julia Schultze of Wheaton. “We have no gas, and I had to throw away all of our food.”

Mrs. Schultze, a teacher, said she was unable to grade papers and has been doing everything she can to stay occupied, including getting ready for Halloween.

Montgomery County residents were craving more than showers this weekend, too.

In Bethesda, shoppers were going to Westfield Mall to shop and just to get outside.

“It has been really boring,” said Ashley Jaranko, 19, who came with her boyfriend, Kyle Bye, also 19.

Some Rockville residents made the best of life without power this weekend in a unique way.

Dick Smith gathered around an outdoor grill Saturday night with six or seven families for a candlelight barbecue.

“We had leftovers: ribs, pork tenderloin, shrimp, sausage, salad and lots of beer,” he said.

Power was restored to his neighborhood late Saturday, but he was at the mall for his daughter, Sofia’s, 12th birthday.

“We spent all day yesterday cutting up fallen trees in the yard,” he said.

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