CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fourth of July was a more somber affair than usual for Heather and Jerry Chaffee.
The Sissonville couple and their four children were spending Independence Day at an overnight shelter in Kanawha City after a string of violent thunderstorms knocked out their power. Fireworks and the customary barbecue cookout were afterthoughts for the Chaffees; they just wanted their power back on.
"It's going to be different," said Heather, sitting on a forest-green cot with nonperishable food stacked in the room around her. "We don't know when we're going to get our power back on, but we hope it's going to be soon."
As hundreds of thousands in the state continued to battle scorching heat and no power on the July Fourth holiday, community shelters like the Kanawha City Community Center were flooded with families seeking food, water and lodging.
More than 100 people from Clendenin to Sissonville have visited the cooling station at Kanawha City Community Center each day, said manager Jennifer Holley. Between 35 and 45 people have spent the night on makeshift cots sandwiched throughout the community center since the shelter opened on Saturday.
"We've been relying on the kindness of people's hearts for food and supplies," said Holley. "People have been wonderful."
Heather said she and her family packed up and headed to Kanawha City on Saturday after an unbearably hot night without air conditioning had their two-month-old baby boy "laying there and gasping for air" in the night heat.
"We decided the heat was too dangerous," Heather said. "So we came here."
They weren't the only ones.
Glenn Ferris residents Chris Koch and Meghan Shaw were the first family to seek refuge at the shelter at Kanawha City on Saturday. Friday's storm knocked out their electricity and water, so they packed up their three kids and headed toward Charleston.
"We rode around calling all the hotels in the area and eventually called the Red Cross," said Koch. "If we wouldn't have found this shelter, we would have been sleeping in the car. It's been a blessing here."
The Kanawha City shelter and the Salvation Army have provided food, water and comforting words to people reeling from power outages. Local residents have chipped in as well-Holley said one college student has stopped by the shelter each day to deliver cupcakes.
"The cupcakes are my favorite," piped in Kayleigh Shaw, age 7.
While many were displaced and disoriented by the power outages, people in Kanawha County still tried to maintain a semblance of Fourth of July festivity.