Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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February 7, 2014

Utilities scramble to restore power

(Continued)

Frantz and her husband had dinner with their son — he had power — and then went home, got out the flashlights and went to bed.

“We snuggled under quilts,” Frantz said. “The temperature when we went to bed was 55. It was 50 when we got up this morning.”

About 200 people took advantage of seven shelters in three suburban Philadelphia counties, according to the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Shelters also were open in central Pennsylvania.

The Northeast’s second winter storm of the week dumped more than a foot of snow in some places on Wednesday, forcing schools, businesses and government offices to close, snarling air travel and sending cars and trucks sliding on slippery roads and highways.

What made this one stand out was the thick coating of ice it left on trees and power lines.

“Many of them already had a coating of snow on them,” said Mark Durbin, a spokesman for the utility FirstEnergy. “It’s that weight that crushes our equipment. Multiply that by hundreds of locations.”

In hard-hit York County, south of Harrisburg, the downed trees and lines kept emergency officials busy. Calls to 911 on Wednesday were quadruple the normal volume, said Carl Lindquist, a spokesman for the county government.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said that about 491,000 customers remained without power as of noon Thursday, down by several hundred thousand from a day earlier. After PECO, FirstEnergy had about 49,000 outages in central Pennsylvania and PPL had 19,000 in eastern Pennsylvania. Some 69,000 Maryland power customers were in the dark, along with about 3,000 in New Jersey and 1,000 in northern Delaware.

Corbett said utility companies were still ramping up their response and expected to have about 5,000 people working to reconnect customers.

Thursday saw the lower 48 states record what is likely to be their lowest average temperature of the season, just 11 degrees.

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