As the whistling winds of Tropical Storm Irene descended upon their neighborhood Sunday morning, Douglas Fink and his family decided to sleep downstairs at their Far Horizon Drive home.
"We were concerned a tree would fall on the house," Fink recalled. "Then the fan and all of the lights went out. Everyone on the block kind of heard the transformer blow."
A tree had been knocked into the telephone pole on Fink's street. His office in Brewster, NY, had also lost power, so the software quality assurance employee has been working on his laptop at a table inside Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, 733 Monroe Turnpike.
Late Friday afternoon, Fink's phone charged in one of the mounted lamp's outlets, while he got his work done.
"Pretty much every day I've been plugging in my cell phone and laptop," Fink said. "I'm glad they set it up, definitely."
Ever since the storm hit the area, Margaret Borchers, director of Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, has noticed an uptick in activity there.
"People are using the wireless service like crazy," she said. "They're using our library computers. We have 26 computers and they're packed."
Borchers said she has bought power stips and set up charging stations inside the library, where people have been recharging the batteries of their phones and laptops.
The library has expanded its hours due to massive power outages caused by the storm. At it's peak, about 93 percent of Monroe was without power, according to CL&P's outage map.
Today the library is open until 8 p.m. Then it is open from 10 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Borchers said the library has been showing movies in the Ehlers Community Room. Tonight, Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, will play from 6 to 8. On Monday, there will be a showing of Unstoppable at 2 p.m.
Inside the Children's Library downstairs, Michelle of Greenwood Lane, who asked that her last name not be used, sat at a charging station waiting for her phone to recharge. Her family has been without power since Sunday morning.
"I came when they first opened on Wednesday," Michelle said. "It was by accident. I happened to be nearby. I stopped in and saw the extended hours and the charging stations."
"I've been using the Masuk facility for showering and this to keep my kids entertained — and for charging my phone," she added.
Kay Inderdohnen, an aide in the children's library, said the computers were all taken yesterday while other children eagerly awaited their turns.
"We're glad we have extra hours to help people out when they need computers and other services," said Inderdohnen, who is still without power at her home.