Thousands still without power
ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Schuylkill Haven Army Reserve volunteer Joe Smith, left, and Tamaqua Salvation Army volunteer Frank Tongue, Lansford, carry sleeping cots into the Tamaqua Salvation Army's gym in preperation for a freezing weekend.
Thousands of PPL customers still without power will have make do as temperatures in some local areas are expected to reach the high 20's over the weekend.
As of 9 a.m. today, PPL's website lists 119,781 customers (about 11 percent of their customers) out of power in their 29 county Eastern Pennsyvlvania coverage area.
Of that number: 39,063 are from Lehigh County; 20,054 are from Northhampton; 5,495 are from Lackawanna County; 14,962 are from Monroe County; 6,037 are from Pike County; 4,430 are from Montgomery County; 2,767 are from Carbon County; 1,122 are from Schuylkill County.
More than half of the hundreds of thousands of PPL Electric powers customers left without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are now back in service. Many of those still affected reside or work in rural areas.
"We continue to make progress, and the more than 5,000 people supporting the restoration effort - including more than 3,000 workers in the field - have started to turn the tide," said Dave Bonenberger, vice president of Distribution Operations for PPL Electric Utilities.
"But we still have a lot of hard work ahead. Right now, we have more workers out there making repairs than in any previous storm. It is time-consuming, labor-intensive work. We're working around the clock and as hard as we can to get the lights back for everyone as soon as humanly possible. We still expect to have 80 to 85 percent of affected customers back in service by Friday night."
Utility workers from at least 10 different states, including PPL Electric Utilities' sister utilities in Kentucky, are supporting storm damage restoration.
The utility is also working to address technical issues with some automated restoration time notices to customers that in some cases may be providing conflicting or incorrect information. The company is committed to providing customers and public officials with as much information as it can about the progress of the recovery effort.
Information on what the utility is doing to restore power, including a list of locations where customers can obtain free ice and water, can be found at www.pplelectric.com.
Customers who have not yet reported outages are asked to call 1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775) or report online at www.pplelectric.com. The outage web site is adapted for mobile phones.
PPL's website states, "Where it can, the utility uses switches to reroute power to as many customers as possible until repairs can be made. Higher priority goes to repairs that will get the largest numbers of customers back in service as quickly as possible. Repairs then go to smaller neighborhoods and individual homes and businesses."
"We know being without power is not easy. Many of PPL Electric Utilities' employees working on the restoration effort also are without electric service at home," Bonenberger said. "We remind all customers to stay safe. That includes staying away from downed wires and safely operating portable generators."
Members of the Tamaqua Salvation Army and Schuylkill Haven Army Reserve, in their HUMVEEs, worked together today to transport and deliver hot meals to many areas still without power.
"Our Tamaqua Salvation Army is open 24 hours a day to anyone struggling without power," said Tamaqua Salvation Army Major Sharon Whispell. "We will remain open as a shelter as long as there are many areas in Schuylkill and Carbon County still without power." In addition to providing sleeping cots, volunteers will also be serving hot meals throughout the day at the shelter. Whispell stressed for everyone to check on their neighbors and pass the word about the Salvation Army outage shelter. For deliveries or more information, call the Salvation Army at (570) 668-0410 or (570) 668-1234.