From Texas to New England, Mother Nature is blanketing the United States with staggering heat and humidity. And with at least 129 heat-related deaths in seven states, people are scrambling for protection.
Cotton crops in Texas are expected to produce half the yield. (CBS)
"We've distributed about 80 fans so far and I've got almost 100 people on the waiting list," said Lillian Jackson, a coordinator for the North City Congress senior center in Philadelphia, where temperatures could hit 100 degrees Wednesday. "The phone has been ringing all day."
CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston reports that officials in New York have put ambulance crews on alert and set up cooling shelters for the elderly.
Few places in the country are being spared. Even Maine was expected to have highs in the 90s Wednesday.
Construction crews in Dallas work through the night to avoid the hottest, mid-afternoon temperatures. (CBS)
CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports that construction crews in Texas are beating the heat by beginning their work days as early as 4 a.m. "They're out here 10 and 12 hours a day, and...it's back-breaking work," says Brian Broom, of Manhattan Construction in Dallas. "We just hate for them to work in the middle of the heat, 103 degrees doing this back-breaking work."
The summer of 1980 was one of the hottest on record for Texas, claiming 20 lives in Dallas County alone. Already this year, 22 people have died.
In south Texas, Border Patrol agents who were expecting the worst went through medical training and got extra lifesaving equipment last month. The measures probably saved Juan Antonio Alvarado Morales, who was rescued Tuesday after three days in a desolate area north of Laredo, within 30 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The 3-year-old was hospitalized with severe dehydration but was expected to survive.
In Louisiana, where authorities attribute at least 26 deaths to the heat, the federal government will likely declare a drought disaster in every parish where cash crops grow, state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom said. There are miles of yellowing, water-starved cornstalks in northeast Louisiana.
There have been 13 heat-related deaths in Oklahoma, where several towns were having trouble keeping up with the demand for water. There was a chance of some relief, however: A cold front could bring rain and cooler temperatures as early as Wednesday night.
That could also moderate conditions in Missouri, where the Highway Patrol had to close a stretch of Interstate 44 Tuesday when high-temperatures formed ridges in the asphalt.
In Wisconsin, the muggy weather gave way to vicious storms that spawned 100 mph winds, toppling trucks, downing power lines, and ripping buildings apart. Interstate 94 between Chicago and Milwaukee was closed for five hours.