Washington: Six days after a sudden summer storm knocked large parts of the US powerless, more than 580,000 homes and businesses in the American capital and 11 states were still without electricity with temperatures hovering around 37 degrees Celsius mark in many places.
The number of households without power dropped considerably on Thursday from a peak of about four million from Ohio to New Jersey who lost power after the Friday night storm that also claimed 22 lives.
Many in Washington and affected states of Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey and Illinois spent the July 4 Independence Day in darkness.
Thursday saw more sweltering temperatures, from Chicago to Washington to Atlanta and beyond with mercury touching 38.3 degrees Celsius in Baltimore and 40 degrees Celsius in St Louis.
Before it gets better, "the record heat wave" could get worse, CNN reported citing the National Weather Service.
"The heat will begin to expand eastward over the next few days, with high temperatures and humidity levels combining to create dangerous heat index values in the triple digits," the forecast said.
Meanwhile, in West Virginia, authorities and charities rushed critically needed food and water to thousands of hungry people with empty pantries and "mass dumpings" of spoiled food across the state.
With grocery stores in many areas still unable to open due to lack of electricity, the American Red Cross in West Virginia planned to serve up to 25,000 meals a day beginning on Thursday, CNN said citing Becky Howard, regional chief development officer.
Officials were sending "about 40 big truckloads of water around the state each day", Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said. "Those affected by the storm are beginning to receive much-needed food."