The hottest spot

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005

Suffolk temperatures reach record high levels; residents try to stay cool at work and play

By Jason Norman

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Solomon Lewis wasn’t surprised that Suffolk made national news as the hottest place in the country this week.

&uot;I believe it,&uot; he said, who spent most of the day operating an excavator used to demolish a house on Saratoga Street. &uot;I’m just trying to hang on.&uot;

Down the street, Steve Davis did some masonry at the Suffolk Cultural Center.

&uot;We had spring-like weather in May, and now we have August’s weather,&uot; he said.

&uot;We’ve changed our hours. We used to work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., now we’re working from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. We laid the brick on the shady side of the building this morning, and vice versa. Heat’s just something we have to deal with.&uot;

On Wednesday, the heat index in Suffolk was 110, according to national weather reports.

Dennis Craff, spokesman for the city, said he was &uot;surprised&uot; to learn that Suffolk was such a hot topic nationwide, earning the top spot Tuesday for its sweltering heat. He added that there hasn’t been any usual activity as a result, or more hits on the Web site than normal.

Watching over the frolics of the Suffolk YMCA’s newly-opened outdoor pool, lifeguard Josh Fleming took shelter under an umbrella.

&uot;We’ve been really busy,&uot; he said. &uot;A lot of families are coming through. Our indoor pool was busy yesterday.&uot;

King’s Fork Middle School students Darlecia Johnson and Sabrea Ralph celebrated the end of the school year in the pool.

&uot;I wanted to get wet outside,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;I’ve been sitting in my house in the air conditioning.&uot;

&uot;This is better than the indoor pool,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;The outdoor one is much bigger and cooler.&uot;

The hot temperatures have also had an impact on electricity usage, setting a record for Dominion Power, which met a record one-hour peak demand for the 2.2 million Virginia and North Carolina customers Tuesday. Dominion reportedly reached 17,291 megawatts from 5 to 6 p.m.

According to company officials, Dominion is particularly concerned with the elderly population, considering the soaring heat. In conjunction with the Virginia Department of Aging, box fans are provided to elderly residents who need help cooling their homes. Elderly customers who need assistance should call 1-800-552-3402 or contact their local area Agency on Aging office.

Managing Editor Luefras Robinson contributed to this story.