UNDATED (CNN/AFFILIATES) -- At least 16 people were killed in a violent storm outbreak across the country this weekend. It left millions without power in the midst of a record-setting heat wave.
Power crews are on the front lines of a battle to beat the heat. They're working round the clock to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers in the central and eastern United States, following deadly weekend storms. Ellie Blackwell of Fairfax, Virginia says, "To me it sounded like a freight train, I mean it was just loud and it was dark and the hail was coming and it just heard it go...and bam, it come down."
The fierce weather was fueled in part by an historic heat wave. Another person says, "Sleeping at night is difficult, last night was a very long night, we're hoping it gets cooler."
More than 1,900 temperature records were broken or tied in the past week across the U.S. Those left without air conditioning have been encouraged to seek cooling shelters and check on elderly neighbors.
Several governors have declared states of emergency, including Bob McDonnell of Virginia. He says, "Our first responders, our local governments, the police, the National Guard, FEMA, everybody has responded exactly as they're supposed to do."
For some it may be days before the lights, and the AC, are back on. Meanwhile they're doing what they can to keep cool. Blackwell says, "The plan is probably a movie, but more than likely a restaurant that has air conditioning that we can stay at for a long period of time."
In many places, no power means no traffic lights, which will set the stage for a nightmare of a Monday morning commute.