Well-known national artist Garvin Walter isn't moving much in his small apartment on Franklin Street in Fredericksburg or he'll begin to sweat. His windows were open, but very rarely would a breeze come through that offered a brief respite from the heat index higher than 100 degrees.
"It isn't much, but it comes once in awhile," the 74-year-old artist said about the breeze. "What a difference a few kilowatts makes. ... Life goes on. You're not going to make anyone do anything faster when there's a situation like this."
As of Friday afternoon, the complex of six apartments on Franklin Street was still without power. Dominion Virginia Power, which has restored power to all city residents, isn't able to do any more for the complex, because the property owner needs to fix the private service lines that were damaged when a large tree fell on one of the apartment's roof—which city officials said was some of the most serious damage Friday's storm caused in Fredericksburg. The family who lived there has been displaced.
"I heard the wind, but I didn't hear the trees come down," said Walter. "The wind was so loud."
Walter, wearing a white T-shirt and shorts, said he has been coping with the heat by taking cold showers, which he said doesn't really bother him in the summer months.
"I don't have anywhere else to go," said Walter, who has lived there for 11 years. "I don't drive and I don't have a car. I don't have family around here."
The artist has painted in some of the most prestigious homes in the country, such as Alexander Graham Bell's former home in D.C., embassies, former Sen. William Emerson "Bill" Brock III's house, and in other prominent households across the world. He is a native of Winchester, Va., and shared his portfolio of work and newspaper clippings from The Winchester Star, where he returned in 1985 after an extensive stay in other countries, including China, Brazil and Europe. Newspaper headlines read, "Distinct By Design" and "A Cosmopolitan Artist." One of his pieces of art used to be in the Trump Tower, he said. He is considered to be one of finest decorative painters in the nation and he is internationally known, according to a Winchester Star article from 1989.
"I've lived in the tropics and I was much younger and it was closer to the beach," he said with a smile. "I've never lived in a place with so many power outages than this town."
Walter shares the small one-bedroom apartment with his cat, Montgomery, who he said is a handful for him. His neighbors, Jake and Alicia Morgan, said Dominion representatives told them Thursday that they had power restored, so they were surprised when they came back Friday to no power.
Walter said what he misses most is not being able to get on the Internet and use his computer.
"I live on the computer," he said. "I'm a film buff, too, and watch three to four movies a day."
City officials have been to the complex and said that it is a private electrical problem that Dominion Virginia Power cannot fix. Property Manager Doreen Phillips said she has hired an electrician.
"The inspector has approved their plan and they are rocking and rolling with it," Phillips said Friday afternoon.
Phillips said that maintenance superintendent Ralph Burgess, who lives in one of the six apartments, set up a generator for his residence and offered to let Walter stay there until power is restored. Walter said he will probably rough it out in his apartment.
Mark Whitley, the assistant city manager, said the city's chief building official, Steve Smallwood, has been to the property several times. Fredericksburg Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Jones said electricians are working on restoring power to the complex and that it could take several more days.
Phillips said the property owner is willing to let anyone out of their lease without any penalty if that is what they wish to do.