Energy & Environment

Burlington workers and residents battle the heat

Cyclists pedal along the Burlington Bike Path bridge over the Winooski River from Colchester on Wednesday, July 20. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — Blanchard Beach was nearly empty. The parking lots near North Beach, usually packed with cars on a summer day, were empty. A few people were at Waterfront Park, holding ice cream cones that melted faster than they could be eaten, but the park was like a ghost town compared to its usual bustling summer energy. 

“I’m surprised this many people are outside, because I’m literally only out here for them two,” said Marcus Fuller, a professor at the University of Vermont, motioning to his two panting dogs. 

Boaters enjoy Lake Champlain seen from Waterfront Park in Burlington on Wednesday. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

As the temperature nudged past 90, with a heat index even higher than that, and with a heat advisory in effect until 8 p.m. Wednesday, Vermonters were encouraged to stay inside and hydrate. And, with beaches closed because of cyanobacteria, many Burlington residents seemed to take that advice. 

However, not everyone has the ability to stay indoors when it’s this hot. 

Munson Earth Moving Corp. construction worker Zeke Mondelo lays concrete at John J. Flynn Elementary School in Burlington in 90-degree heat. Photo by Jenna Peterson/VTDigger

Adam Young has worked for Munson Earth Moving Corp. for 20 years, and on Wednesday the company was repaving a parking lot at John J. Flynn Elementary School. 

“Humidity is what really kills you,” he said. “It’s hard to breathe with that stuff.”

Young and coworker Mark Quesnel shared tips they keep in mind on a hot workday: water coolers; fruit, especially bananas, instead of a sandwich during lunch; no coffee, tea or any other sweet drinks; and frequent breaks in the shade.  

“You kind of got to be aware; you can’t just let your body go to hell and expect it to work properly if you’re not treating it properly,” Young said. 

They also said concrete dries more quickly in the heat, so they have to work even faster than usual. 

At the end of a hot workday, “it feels like you’re working two days,” Quesnel said. 

D.A. Collins flagger Grace Montague. Photo by Jenna Peterson/VTDigger

Grace Montague, a flagger for D.A. Collins Construction, was working on Flynn Avenue Wednesday, and said the heat was dragging her down. She’s been working in Johnson, a much more rural community, for most of the summer, and she’s been feeling the heat in Burlington. She and coworker Caitlin Douglas usually wear work gloves, but not Wednesday — too hot — and took numerous breaks out of the sun. 

“This is the hottest day yet,” Montague said. “It’s drowsy; we’re tired.”

The City of Burlington opened a number of cooling sites to the public, including the ONE Center, the Miller Community Recreation Center, Leddy Arena, Fletcher Free Library and the Public Works Offices on Pine Street. 

“It’s definitely one of the hottest days I’ve experienced in Vermont,” said Fuller, the UVM professor, who moved to the state about two years ago. He planned to forgo his usual run and stay inside for the rest of the day. 

What’s next? Forecasters predict heavy thunderstorms Thursday morning, although thunder could be heard rumbling Wednesday afternoon in some areas of Burlington. Green Mountain Power said in a press release Wednesday that if the thunderstorms hit, residents could have to deal with power failures and difficulties traveling. And the temperature is still expected to approach 90.

“This storm could bring a lot of water in a short period of time that could impact road conditions, along with winds and lightning that could cause trees and branches to fall,” Eric Lemery, who works in field operations at Green Mountain Power, said in the release. “Customers should always stay far away from any downed power lines or trees, as they could still be energized.”

A crew from the Vermont Tent Company sets up for this weekend's Vermont Brewer's Festival at Waterfront Park in Burlington on Wednesday. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

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Jenna Peterson

About Jenna

Jenna Peterson is a student at the University of Southern California, where she is majoring in journalism and political science. She is news editor at the Daily Trojan at USC and was an editor of the Burlington High School student newspaper when it received a special New England Newspaper & Press Association award for successfully fighting a censorship effort by school administrators.

Email: [email protected]

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