As of 7 a.m. today, more than 1.2 million homes in Pennsylvania, about 20 percent of the state's electric consumers, were still without power after Hurricane Sandy delivered a knockout blow last night, causing widespread blackouts all across the commonwealth. Those numbers include more than 395,000 homes in eastern Pennsylvania.
For the majority of Schuylkill County, Hurricane Sandy started off small with only scattered rain showers and occasional extended bursts of strong winds. That all changed shortly after 10 p.m., as powerful wind gusts toppled hundreds of trees and power lines throughout our area.
PPL listed 19,067 customers still without power this morning in Schuylkill County; the majority of which are located in the adjacent communities of Tamaqua, Hometown and West Penn Township.
Local police, volunteer firefighters and fire police could be seen working all night in the heavy rain cutting trees, placing generators, controlling traffic, pumping out homes and helping families place tarps on damaged roofs.
Cable, Internet and telephone communications throughout the area were greatly impacted by the storm.
The power outage in West Penn was caused from sparking wires located on Summer Valley Road between Snyders and New Ringgold.
PPL crews and area firefighters traced a large portion of Tamaqua's power outage to sparking wires, located between the Hometown power substation and the open-pit mines just east of Tamaqua.
Many area roads in eastern Schuylkill County were still shut down this morning as PPL, PennDOT and local municipalities worked hard to remove downed trees and power lines. Some of the roads closed throughout the night and into this morning included SR54 between Hometown and Barnesville, SR309 on top of the Blue Mountain, Marian Avenue and Owl Creek Road.
Emergency personnel also responded to multiple trees on homes in McAdoo and Hometown. One affected home in McAdoo trapped a family temporarily in their kitchen.
One homeowner on West High Street in Coaldale reported that his shed was blown out of his yard into his neighbor's yard.
Firefighters and municipal workers, along with fire police, could be seen hooking up generators and placing portable stop signs at many of the intersections affected by the power outage.
As of this morning, the hybrid megastorm continues to knock down trees and power lines as it creeps across the state.
PPL says it has extra repair crews working around the clock, but added that some homes could be without power for days as crews deal with widespread problems from downed trees.
Volunteers with the Tamaqua Salvation Army have opened the doors to the center, providing meals, activities and electricity to those in need.
"We have opened the center to the public," said Major Sharon Whispell. "We will remain open as long as we can and until power is restored to the vast majority of people throughout Carbon and Schuylkill County."
Volunteers stressed that the center isn't a shelter or place for sleeping. They also added that pets aren't allowed due to allergens.
For more information or to volunteer at the center call (570) 668-0410 or (570) 668-1234 anytime.