Bethesda Businesses Provide Refuge After Storm Damage

Crowds wrapped around blocks Saturday as Montgomery County residents without power searched for food and a place to cool off.


Bethesda businesses have turned into a place of refuge for residents still without power following . 

There wasn't an open power plug to be found Saturday afternoon at the at Woodmont, while floor space was at a premium for the dozens of community members piled into the on Bethesda Row. The shop opened its doors early to residents searching for coffee Saturday morning, and may stay open late tonight.

Coffee shops, tea gardens and bookstores around Bethesda have opened their doors to residents looking for a place to cool off and for power charges for cell phones and laptops.

Check out our list of .

"We're a business, but we're also a community center," said Barnes & Noble store manager Thom Hayes. "People can come in to get cool, to plug in, this morning our cafe was extraordinarily busy. It's a good thing to give back to our community."

Every table in Barnes & Noble was occupied Saturday afternoon, and residents clustered around outlets on floors and walls all over the store, reading books or working on laptops. During Friday's storms, residents took shelter in the book store after closing time while the worst of the storm played out, according to Hayes.

"Everyone's been really appreciative," he said. 

Customers at Zen Tara witnessed a similar scene Saturday, as lines of customers wrapped around the blocks of coffee shops. Employees say they opened the store early to accommodate customers looking for a cup of coffee before its regular hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"We can sympathize with everybody. We're in the same boat," said store co-owner Guy Munsch, whose own house on East-West Highway remains without power.

Employees say the store may stay open late depending on customer traffic.

"If people don't have anywhere else to go, we'll see how it goes," Munsch said.

Munsch may end up seeing late-night traffic, if current conditions play out.

One Cabin John resident says it took her over an hour to get to Bethesda, with road closures and downed trees blocking traffic all over the county.

"Just to get around one patch of River Road, driving through Kenwood, to the other patch, took 45 minutes," Tutu Jefferson said. 

Jefferson said power is still out all over her Cabin John neighborhood, after Friday's storms caused superficial damage to yards, fences, deck umbrellas and planters. across Montgomery County, with trees crashing into cars and houses, . 

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