Isabel outages bolster library, Web traffic

SILVER SPRING - Doing without TV and hot showers during a blackout is rough, but for some, going without e-mail is unbearable.

Heather Gleason went to the public library this week not to peruse books but to access its computers. She hadn't been able to check e-mail since Tropical Storm Isabel knocked out power Thursday.

"I've never done this before," said the Takoma Park resident. "I'm a little nervous that people have come looking for me and I've missed their e-mails."

There is normally a waiting list of about 10 to 15 people for the library computers. But by noon Monday, 70 people had used them, including children doing homework, said library manager Carol Legarreta.

Greg Stokes of Silver Spring joined the list Monday to research buying a car. He'd use the Internet at work, but his office at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington had no power. "I'll be patient," he said.

Those who work from home felt the pinch, too. Tami Garcia, an educational consultant with UrbanLEARN, spent a few hours at Mayorga Coffee Factory with her laptop.

But the busy cafe is a far cry from the calm environment she works in at home, she said. "It is a little distracting," she said.