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Posted at 04:00 PM ET, 07/21/2011

Fanning out around D.C. in the heat wave

It may be 90+ degrees with 100+ heat index, but people still gotta go out — to work, to shop, to walk up broken Metro escalators, to stand in front of the White House and take pictures.

Post staffers have fanned out around the area to see how people are dealing (or not) with the brutal July heat. Here are some snapshots:

Coping strategies: Routines received subtle adjustments throughout the region, with all kinds of strategies wielded against the weather.

Retired agriculture librarian Jerry Rafats usually gets up by 7, but on Thursday he stayed in bed until 10 watching a bad Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra romantic comedy on Netflix. (“It’s a Girl Meets Boy, Girl Gets Dumped, Girl Loses Dignity, Girl Finds Love” story, boasts the trailer for “Dirty Love,” which flopped.)

Rafats, 71, than trudged out from the air conditioning to try to bring some relief to his heat-stressed tomato plants, before resuming his usual schedule with a trip to the Rockville Senior Center for the treadmill and some light weights. Only a couple of people had signed in before him, a drop-off from the typical dozen.

“At my age, it’s at the point of use it or lose it,” Rafats said. “In this hot weather, it seems the joints are a little more achy. Maybe it’s my imagination.”

The plan for Friday: “Just go to my yoga class and probably drink a lot of ice cold lemonade and watch movies.”

The young, who sweated outside weed-whacking and grinding tree branches into dust, had a long day. “We don’t have any other choice. We’ve got to get this done,” said Italo Gutirres, 36, of Silver Spring, who was working a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift at a Rockville construction site.

The workers take five-minute breaks each hour, chug water continually, and keep reminding themselves not to get psyched out as they slice metal support beams in the atrocious heat.

“Sometimes, you make the cut and it’s the wrong size. It makes you mad and excited real fast,” Gutirres said. The guys just “tell each other, ‘Take it easy.’”

— Michael Laris

Transformers, but not as cool as the movie. Sweat poured down Lineman Scott Graff’s face and beard as he quickly worked Thursday morning to replace a nearly 20-year-old Dominion Virginia Power 15 kilovolt amp transformer that provides electricity to six homes in North Arlington. Temperatures were already topping 90 degrees.

Graff and groundman Matt Allen replace about eight transformers a week as part of Dominion’s $20 million Neighborhood Transformer Replacement Program. The project identifies transformers that are overloaded and replaces them with new ones that can handle the additional load caused by surging air conditioning, big-screen televisions and cellphone chargers.

Graff lowered the bucket he was standing in and dumped the sweat out of his rubber gloves. He quickly removed his protective rubber sleeves and drank down the bottle of water Allen handed him. It was the first few ounces of the gallon and a half or more he planned to drink Thursday.

— Christy Goodman

The crucible of justice. Judge William Jackson, who is overseeing the Shanika and Leon Robinson murder trial, had two fans brought in from his chambers and pointed them at the jury.

Attorneys removed their suit jackets. Marshals, who are watching the defendants, were stopping people from bringing bottled water into the courtroom, though one was spotted sipping from one. Courtroom 301 is also having air problems. Jurors waiting in the juror’s lounge spilled into the hallway to get air.

Tom Feeney, a spokesman for D.C. Superior Court, said the air conditioning was working throughout the courthouse, but engineers were working on it.

— Keith L. Alexander

No relief in AC City. The Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce in both Virginia and West Virginia is offering free lemonade, after the city known as “Nature’s Air Conditioned City” didn’t quite live up to its name.

By tradition, free lemonade is distributed in Bluefield each time the temperature hits 90 degrees, reports the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Too hot for fish. Officials in Richmond, Va., believe the deaths of 50 to 100 small fish in Fountain Lake at Byrd Park were due to hot weather, algae and reduced oxygen levels.

The fish were found this week in a shallow area of the lake, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

By Washington Post staff writers  |  04:00 PM ET, 07/21/2011

 
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