- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A hose was the weapon of choice against 97-degree heat by workers throughout the Washington area yesterday.

Avelino Maya, a maintenance worker, from Crosby, Md., happily watering flowers in the shade, splashed himself with the hose when it was too hot.

“I’m used to it,” he said, “I’ve always worked outside.” Nonetheless, he looked forward to his duties inside, which were still a few hours off.

Workers for the Wrecking Corps spent their day demolishing a parking garage on New Jersey Avenue in Northwest. Responsible for keeping the concrete wet with a large hose, the crew also used the hose to soak each other.

“I am used to it. I’ve been doing it for years,” said Danny Stewart, pleased that his post as a truck checker allowed him to be out of the sun.

Al Chapman’s method of coping: “It’s easy for me to stick my head into whatever water source is around.”

He has traveled between Washington and Canada’s Alberta province seven times in the past year to set up the Alberta section of the National Folklife Festival, which was held on the Mall earlier this month.

He had thought he had seen every season Washington has to offer, but working outside in the past several weeks has been tough.

“It took a few weeks to get used to, but after a few days, it’s ‘enough already,’ whether you’re in Canada or here.”

“Today is worse than yesterday. I just keep putting water on my face, on my head,” said Jose Leccano, scraping paint off a house awning in Hyattsville. Today he will be back, repainting the same awning, in heat he is not looking forward to.

Lifeguard Brandon Thomas has the area’s biggest water source of all — the pool.

He can cool off anytime he wants in the Hamilton Swimming Pool in Hyattsville and watch the swimmers from the shade, but it doesn’t do much good.

“It’s like 98 degrees in the shade. Then sometimes the heat gets to you and you are just blowing your whistle in anger,” he said.

While several construction workers loaded up on water and Gatorade from her hot dog cart before returning to work, Abrehet Zerai wiped her face with a paper towel. “From this morning, I finished one roll. I am halfway through the second.”

Nestor Hernandez, a construction worker from El Salvador, said the sun doesn’t burn as much as in his native country, but it still burns.

“We don’t like it but we’re accustomed to it,” said Carlos Perez, who was installing pipes with the crew from Cherry Hill Construction on the shoulder of the Inner Loop of the Beltway at the Greenbelt Metro station.

“We’ve gotten used to it after being outside for 31/2 weeks,” said Smithsonian intern Meg Hathaway, of Wilmette, Ill. She has been working on the Folklife Festival this summer and yesterday was collecting trash on the Mall. “I preferred the flooding days.”

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