Eastern Half Of U.S. Still Sizzling

A sign in front of Dortches Baptist Church comments on the recent high temperatures Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006, in Dortches, N.C. (AP Photo/Rocky Mount Telegram, Jason Ivester) ** MAGS OUT NO SALES ** AP

As if another day of scorching temperatures wasn't bad enough, Queens, N.Y., grocer Salm Ali had another problem: A power outage forced him to pitch about $5,000 worth of withered, wilted produce.

His Liberty Deli and Grocery was just one of thousands of energy customers across the eastern United States that experienced scattered blackouts Wednesday as the oppressive heat and humidity prompted record-setting demand.

"This is the life," Ali said sarcastically. "Even the fan isn't working."

CBS News correspondent Trish Regan reports the number of 911 calls in New York on Wednesday was 20 percent higher than on a normal August day.

The region was in for another day of steamy weather Thursday. The heat wasn't expected to break until evening, when a cold front should force temperatures down into the 80s.

CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports utility companies throughout the eastern half of the country set records for electricity demand, and some power grids simply couldn't keep up. Scattered outages emptied stifling apartments and closed businesses.

The National Weather Service again posted heat warnings from Massachusetts to South Carolina and in parts of Oklahoma. Since Sunday, authorities have confirmed heat played a role in at least 12 deaths and suspect it played a role in 7 more.

The same heat wave was blamed for as many as 164 deaths last week in California.

In Boston, autopsy results were pending on a pregnant woman who died Saturday after collapsing at a sweltering Red Sox game and suffering an apparent heart attack. A medical team was able to deliver her 4-pound baby at a hospital.

In Kentucky, an 18-month-old boy was found dead Wednesday inside a van about 60 miles northeast of Lexington. In Illinois, at least six heat-related deaths have been confirmed in Cook County since Sunday, and police believe that another six deaths in Chicago Wednesday could be heat-related. Four deaths were reported in Maryland, including three elderly victims who did not have air conditioning, officials said. In Oklahoma, authorities said a 92-year-old man found near his car Tuesday died of heat related-causes.

By late afternoon Wednesday, the temperature had risen to 101 at LaGuardia Airport, but it felt like 106. The mercury hit 99 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and Baltimore and Philadelphia each climbed into the upper 90s.

In Washington, tourists at the U.S. Capitol filled water bottles at drinking fountains and doused themselves. Others drenched their baseball caps before putting them on.

At the Library of Congress' daycare center, children stayed inside because it was deemed too hot to swim. Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs cut his players a break by ending afternoon practice early and then pushed back the 4 p.m. session to 7 p.m.

Even on Cape Cod, which is usually a haven during the steamiest summer weather, residents and tourists were buckling. Carla Sullivan, the dockmaster at Hyannis Marina, said she saw people dousing a dog with water after the animal collapsed from heat stroke.

"The water just pours off of you," said Sullivan. "This is Texas hot."

  • James Klatell

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