Government
2:26 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Winds Slow, Lights Come on, Flooding Still Possible

UPDATE: Oct 30, 4:15pm

FirstEnergy now reports fewer than 50 customers in Allegheny County are without power.  Duquesne Light says it stands at 650 customers without service.  Somerset County still has about 1,000 homes and business waiting to have power restored and hard-hit Fayette County still has nearly 1,600 customers without electricity.

Both companies say they hope to have all power in the area restored by midnight.

ORIGINAL POST:

Life is slowly returning to normal for much of Pennsylvania but cleanup efforts will continue for a few days in Western Pennsylvania and for more than a week in the Philadelphia area.  The National Weather Service has canceled flood warnings for the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers in the Pittsburgh region but flood watches continue through Tuesday evening because more rain is expected throughout the day and Tuesday night.  High wind warnings for southwestern Pennsylvania expire at noon.  Sustained winds are still in the double digits in much of the Pittsburgh area but gusts have fallen below the 30 mile per hour mark.

Most schools in the area remain closed, as are most city offices.  Trash pickup continues as normal and county offices are open including the County Elections Division, which will not extend today’s absentee ballot deadline.  

Slowly turning on the lights

The number of customers without power has begun to drop.  Statewide there are still more than 1.3 million people without service.  In Allegheny County that number is just under 1,600.  FirstEnergy still has about 3,300 customers in Somerset County without power.  Fayette County was the hardest hit in the region with more than 4,100 customers waiting for service to be restored.  

Penn Energy spokesperson Scott Surgeoner said crews have been called in for other states to help with the effort.  Many of them will be sent to the eastern half of the state where there are more problems but the company feels it can still respond to the need in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Surgeoner said it is too soon to give an exact timeline for restoration but he expects it to be less than two days.   

Outages can be reported to FirstEnergy or Duquesne Light, which has about 650 customers without power. Service is expected to be completely restored by 11 o'clock tonight. 

Emergency calls were less than expected

The office of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl reports Swift Water Rescue Crews deployed to the Streets Run Road area overnight for water on the roadway and to Routes 51 and 88 for a report of flooding.  Barricades were out up at both locations.   Spokesperson Joanna Doven said the creek at Rt. 51 and 88 remains high and is being closely monitored.  Both roadways are open.

Public Works crews responded to multiple calls for trees blocking roadways including a call to the East Busway in Bloomfield and McCardle Roadway and a few other locations in Mt. Washington.

Allegheny County plans to close its Emergency Operations Center at 4:00 today and will begin “stepping down coverage” at the 911 center.  County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Allegheny County dodged a bullet. The county’s senior centers are closed.  The Port Authority of Allegheny County is operating as normal.

Governor Tom Corbett briefed the media this morning with most of his focus on the hardest hit areas.  "At this point, a little over 600 people are located in 48 shelters across the commonwealth with that number expected to fluctuate throughout the day as people come and go.   38 counties are now under emergency declarations; 43 counties have emergency operations centers up and running," said Corbett.  

“We’ll be speaking with the president later this morning, and I’ll be reaching out to Governors Christie and Cuomo as to any resources they may need that we may be able to break free at this time.  PEMA remains on level one status and continues to coordinate communications and response activities with municipalities and the counties."

State non-emergency offices are closed today including state liquor stores.

Travel returns to normal

PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) lifted the speed-limit and vehicle restrictions that were in place on roadways in eastern and south central Pa. Due to high wind speeds, a 45 mph speed limit remains on Interstate 90 in Erie County and Interstate 79 in Erie and Crawford counties where the storm continues to churn.

Motorists can check road conditions on state roads by calling 511 or visiting www.511PA.com. Detailed travel information for the Pennsylvania Turnpike is also available at 1-866-976-8747.

Pittsburgh International Airport is slow this morning.  Several flights had to be canceled simply because the aircraft that would have been used never made it to the airport last night because they were grounded at east coast airports. Locally, the weather is causing no delays with departures and arrivals.

More than just physical damage is done by a storm

State and local public health officials continue to staff emergency hotlines for those who are suffering under the stress of the storm.  Residents in need of such support can call 412-482-3250 or 1-800-985-5990 at any time to get help or to be put in contact with other resources.  Those needing help can also text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746.  However, state and county officials warn that any life threatening emergencies should be directed to 9-1-1.