Downed Trees, Careful Joggers and Stranded Students

Checking in on Reston after Hurricane Irene.

As Restonians waited for power to come back on and cleaned up storm debris Sunday morning, a group of Chinese business students looked for a place to buy a cell phone.

The men - Alex Hao, 24, Fergus Li, 19, James Yan, 20 and Jack Cao, 20 - hail from Chengdu and are headed to study this fall at Boston's Northeastern University. They stepped off a 13-hour plane ride from Bejing to Dulles International Airport Saturday night, scheduled to make a 9 p.m. connecting flight to Boston's Logan Airport.

With Hurricane Irene barrelling up the East Coast at that time, thousands of flights were cancelled, including theirs.

Instead, they got in a cab. The driver took them to the where they rode out the storm.

"United Airlines says they may not be able to get us to Boston until Sept. 1," said Hao.

The students - three of whom had never been to the United States before - liked what they saw in Reston, and were making plans to take the Metro to DC should they be stranded all day today.

"It's very clean," said Li.

They set off for in search of cell phones to run on an American network. And to call their host families in New England and check with United about  when they might make that connecting flight.

The National Weather Service reported that winds of 55 mph - the highest ever - were recorded in Reston.

Still, the damage was pretty minimal, with no major injuries reported.

The sun broke through about 9 a.m., and residents and business owners began cleanup and the usual Sunday activities. Church services were on schedule, as was the 9 a.m. Vinyasa class at A jogger carefully passed by the men with chainsaws removing a tree from Soapstone Road.

On Sweet Bay, off of Soapstone, homeowners were picking up downed tree limbs as they waited for their power - out since 2 a.m. - to be restored. Traffic lights were dark in many locations, but with little traffic on Lawyers Road, motorists politely took turns.

Virginia Dominion Power reported that 96,670 Northern Virginia customers were without power as of 10:44 a.m. Sunday. The company says it should have its damage assessment completed by noon and has 5,000 crew members from North Carolina to Northern Virginia working to get power restored.

Back at the Town Center, employees swept sidewalks, children splashed in puddles and dog owners took their pets for a walk.

The forecast for the rest of the week: sunny and mid-80s. And free of hurricanes and earthquakes.

Will Lipford August 29, 2011 at 08:37 PM
It was barely a hurricane when in our area, and makes no sense for them to be stranded in Reston. I am pretty sure in order to attend college in the states you need to speak English fluently, at least for now.
Karen Goff August 29, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Will, I think the issue with the airlines is that flights could not go up the east coast saturday night because that is where the storm was going. Dulles may have been open, but New York and Boston were closed and 10,000 flights were cancelled.
JohnSiekert August 29, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Karen Goff, China is having its version of tropical weather(tropical storm) this week. How close they came to being harmed in any shape, way, form or fashion. Thank whoever ur God is they are fully alive, and funtioning fully.
Wildcat Mack August 29, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Dear "Will Lipford": The storm wasn't the hurricane of the century that cable news so breathlessly predicted but it was a major event that impacted millions of people on the East Coast. Thousands of flights were canceled. Hotels near airports were crowded. Travelers were stranded. Damage costs are in the billions. People died. Just because the storm wasn't severe in your backyard doesn't mean it wasn't a major event up and down the coast. How do you know the Chinese students don't speak English? How then did the reporter conduct the interview? Most young Chinese are taught English. Please think before you post such an ignorant comment on the intertubes. I liked the story -- nice touch Karen Goff!
Batt Mann August 30, 2011 at 09:26 PM
I'm guessing bats.


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