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Area residents standing up after Sandy's Sunday punch

  • CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Jim Belzner of West Penn Township helps out a neighbor by clearing a tree that had fallen across a driveway from high winds Monday night into Tuesday morning.
    CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Jim Belzner of West Penn Township helps out a neighbor by clearing a tree that had fallen across a driveway from high winds Monday night into Tuesday morning.
Published October 31. 2012 05:03PM

The sound of chainsaws filled the air Tuesday as people cleaned up fallen trees, and PPL crews worked nonstop to fix downed power lines in the aftermath of deadly Hurricane Sandy.

While the hybrid storm didn't bring as much rainfall as feared, high winds wrought havoc in our area. Area schools remain closed due to lack of power.

As of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, 285,966 PPL customers remained without power in 29 counties. That included 9,655 in Carbon County, 33,715 in Monroe and 9,065 in Schuylkill.

Northampton County was hardest hit, with 43,101 PPL customers still without electricity. In Carbon County, Mahoning Township had 1,483 customers out of power as of 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Penn Forest Township was next worse, with 3186 without power.

The storm also lead to tragedy in Penn Forest, when a person died when from fumes from a generator that was being operated in an attached garage.

In Schuylkill County, Rush Township suffered most, with 1,183 PPL customers out of power. Next hardest hit was Deer Lake Borough, with 660 homes without power. Tobyhanna Township bore the brunt of the storm, with 7,665 homes without power.

In addition to cutting out power, downed trees and flooding closed roads.

"I give PPL and all the emergency responders credit," said Schuylkill Township Commissioner George Halcovage, who showed up and offered help at the Tamaqua Salvation Army yesterday evening. "They hit essential areas first and have worked non-stop to restore power to remaining areas."

In addition to the media, he added that PPL, counties and local government have greatly utilized the website to keep people informed.

Route 209 south between Broadway Avenue and Route 903 in Jim Thorpe Borough was closed for awhile after a fallen tree brought down power lines. Hahns Dairy Road, between Cherry Hill Road and Golf Road in Lower Towamensing Township, remained closed as of early this morning due to downed wires, and Seneca Road, between Blakeslee Boulevard and Mahoning drives in Mahoning Township, remained closed due to a downed utility.

The traffic signal at Normal Square was also out of service this morning.

In addition, Laurel Road, between the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in Summit Hill Borough and Hacklebarney Road in Jim Thorpe Borough, was closed due to a downed utility, and Buck Mountain Road, between North Stagecoach Road in Lausanne Township and Lehigh Gorge Drive in Lehigh Township, was closed due to a downed tree in utility wires, according to the Pennsylvania department of Transportation.

In Schuylkill County, Route 54 between Fairview Street and Marian High School Road in Rush Township; Marian Avenue between Route 54 and Delano Road, also in in Rush Township, was closed due to a downed tree but is now open; Route 895 between River Road and Evergreen Drive in East Brunswick Township was closed and Sweet Arrow Lake Road between Route 125 in Pine Grove Township and Mountain Road in Washington Township was closed due to a downed utility.

The lack of power forced people into shelters, said Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Nalesnik.

"As of late last night, there were three shelters open. The Mahoning Valley Ambulance building; Palmerton's West End FireCompany, which housed 41 people, all from The Village at Palmerton; and Penn Forest Fire Co. No. 2," Nalesnik said.

Other non-sleeping shelters available include the Tamaqua Salvation Army, 105 West Broad Street, and the Rush Township Municipal Building, 104 Mahanoy Ave. Volunteers with the Tamaqua Salvation Army are also delivering hot meals to Eastern Schuylkill County residents not able to get to the Salvation Army. For delivery, call (570) 668-1234.

Many areas area expected to get their power back on by later today, although some areas, such as parts of West Penn, aren't expected to get power back for a few days.

PPL is encouraging residents to report any power outages by calling them at (800) 342-5775.

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