In the wake of the blizzard
Clearing trees, bringing back power
REGION — While 1.6 million people were without power in the Northeast at the height of the blizzard on March 2, thousands remained without power in the Upper Delaware Valley Region on March 4 and 5.
As of Saturday morning, the NYSEG power outage page for Sullivan County showed 16,850 out of a total of 46,401 customers without power. As of Monday, March 5, in the towns of Tusten, Highland and other parts of Sullivan County served by NYSEG, thousands of customers remained without power. Many were informed by the utility company that power would be restored before midnight on March 5. But residents of Highland midday on Monday were not sure that deadline could be kept because of the numerous trees and wires that were down between Eldred and Barryville. For some, it was restored by the end of the day, but not for all. However, power was restored to Narrowsburg customers on Monday afternoon.
In Lumblerland and Forestburgh, hundreds of customers served by Orange and Rockland utility company remained without power; as of March 4, that utility had said customers would have electric power back by either March 5 or March 6.
In Pennsylvania on Saturday morning, PPL’s power outage page indicated that 10,093 out of 23,866 customers in Pike County and 11,643 out of 44,806 in Wayne County were without power. PPL said on a press release on March 5 that 32,000 of customers remained without power (their coverage area includes a number of other counties).
The press release said, “The eastern part of PPL’s service area contains the bulk of the remaining outages. Our hardest-hit areas include the Poconos and Lehigh Valley regions.” PPL said that most power would be restored by March 7.
“As we wrap up storm work in our western territory, we are moving crews from other parts of our service territory to assist in the hardest-hit regions,” said Stephanie Raymond, vice president of distribution operations. “We are bringing in extensive additional resources to support this recovery effort and are working around the clock to restore all customers to service. “PPL Electric Utilities has more than 1,700 workers doing power restoration, including line-repair crews, tree crews and assessors. We have mutual assistance crews from as far away as Florida, Texas and Alabama. “Accessibility is still an issue. Trees, and snow in the northern parts of our region, are making access to job sites difficult. We continue to work with state and local agencies to clear roads and improve access to work areas.” PPL said it was recalling some 25 linemen who are currently working in Puerto Rico to help with the restoration.
Many homes in the area are equipped with back-up generators, and the Milanville General Store, which did not lose power, experienced a surge in gasoline sales. Still, most homes don’t have generators, and because of the extended power outages, warming stations were opened.
In Wayne County warming centers were open after storm from 2 to 4 p.m. on March 5 in Preston Elementary, Honesdale High School, Evergreen School and Wallenpaupack High School.
In Pike County, shelters were open at the Central Fire Department, Dingmans Volunteer Fire Department and Bushkill Volunteer Fire Company. Officials said shelters would remain open through the duration of the next anticipated storm which was expected on March 7.
Numerous warming stations opened in Sullivan County including those at Monticello Middle School, Breakey Avenue; United Methodist Church, Liberty; Highland Town Hall, Eldred; Tusten Town Hall, Narrowsburg; Youngsville Firehouse; Rock Hill Firehouse; Fallsburg Town Hall, South Fallsburg; Lighthouse Ministries, Triangle Road, Liberty; White Lake Firehouse.
Linda Peters, a member of the Tusten Volunteer Ambulance Service, was at the warming center at the town hall in Narrowsburg at about 12:30 p.m. on March 4. She thanked her fellow members of the ambulance service, the Narrowsburt Fire Department, and especially the superintendent of the Narrowsburg Department of Water and Sewer, Dominic Hillard, for their efforts to open the center. And she thanked neighbors for going door to door in the Flats to check on residents and tell them about the center. Cots, water and other supplies were available.
The warming center in Tusten opened on Saturday about 11 a.m. Peters said that residents of the area did take advantage of it.
Another person there, who did not wish to be identified, said that with advance experience of 9/11 and extensive flooding events, local officials might have had the foresight to plan for the opening of the center in advance of the storm.
Peters said the she was one of many people that had cancelled their land-line phones to depend on cell phones in an effort to save money. But with cell service down, she would be unable to reach emergency services, and that is a decision she may revisit.
On the road
Many roads were still blocked as of the evening of March 4, and County Manager Josh Potosek, re-activated a state of emergency on Saturday night for Tusten, Highland Lumberland and Forestburgh, and he renewed it on March 5 into Tuesday. Route 97 was passable on Sunday afternoon, but there were still areas that where a single land was open as treeclearing efforts continued.
Numerous trees had been downed by the wind and snow, and crews had been working many hours to clear away the debris. On the morning of March 4, Pike County officials released a statement that said, “Although I-380 and I-84 is presently open to traffic, it is moving slowly and PennDOT is still trying to clear trapped queues. Further, the commonwealth is working to provide any requested support for private utility companies working to restore power. “As roads continue to be cleared, the commonwealth’s response will continue with earnest to ensure private utility companies have resources and support for their ongoing efforts to restore power.”
Note: An earlier version of the story stated that power had been returned to Tusten customers on Monday afternoon. It has been corrected to read "Narrowsburg customers."