SILVER SPRING, Md. -- Across the eastern United States, people are struggling through a third day of sweltering heat with no electricity. Their groceries are long gone, either used up in weekend cookouts or left to spoil in useless refrigerators. The usual frozen treats people turn to on a hot summer day have melted away.

The basics of daily life are difficult: Washing machines won't work without electricity, leading to some creative wardrobes. Bottled water has gone from luxury to necessity for people whose underground wells aren't pumping.

Storms that swept across the area late Friday left 22 people dead, and nearly 1.8 million people remained without power last evening. Utility companies say it could be days before the lights are on again.

Not a whole lot was functioning at the Springvale Terrace nursing home and senior center in Silver Spring: No air conditioning, no cable, no automatic doors for elderly residents using walkers who otherwise struggle to navigate them.

Window air-conditioners were brought in to cool some rooms, and director Antonio Hill and his staff had to empty spoiling food from refrigerators and freezers in nursing units, sometimes over objections of residents who insisted the melting ice cream was still good.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Generators provided electricity in common rooms, where TVs showed movies on old VHS tapes. Residents coped as best they could. Margaret Foster, 93, and Helen Ofsharick, 95, passed the time outside.

"There are sick people here, or people who don't think too well," Foster said. "They need help." -- AP