Thousands of utility trucks manned with crews from a number of out-of-state locations are working around the clock to restore power throughout Pennsylvania, including Northeastern Pennsylvania.
A popular access road to enter and exit Interstate-81 in Dorrance Township was a busy place Wednesday.
Flag crews working at the intersection located at South Main Road and Blue Ridge Trail were busy Wednesday directing traffic into one lane while other crews in two bucket trucks from William E. Groves Electrical Contractors Inc., in Madisonville, Ky., were busy de-energizing lines to repair them and restore power.
"Groves Electrical Contractors are a sister company to PPL in Kentucky. We brought them up to help and they arrived on Sunday in the Lehigh Valley area," Martha Herron, PPL Luzerne/Schuylkill Regional community relations director said. "There were about 50 line crews sent to Genetti's as well as other staging areas throughout the PPL Electrical utility area."
Superstorm Sandy blew through Pennsylvania and the entire Atlantic Coast on Monday into Tuesday leaving devastation and in some cases death in its wake from heavy winds and rain that caused flooding in some areas and heavy damage to homes and businesses in other areas.
Several communities throughout the region experienced power outages due to downed lines, uprooted trees and flying debris that put homes in darkness and lives on hold. Schools closed, retail stores decided to close or not open at all, disrupting routines and normal functions for many.
PPL worked to get power restored in some areas but with thousands of customers in the dark and temperatures dropping to make it colder late Monday into Tuesday, patience was wearing thin on Wednesday. It is not as easy as some may think to restore the power to their area.
"When people expect that you can just get it back in service very quickly they may not realize that once crews are mobilized, damages must be assessed, a number of safety factors must be considered and when they arrive at the scenes lines must be de-energized to repair them," Herron said.
The crew in Dorrance Township worked to put 557 customers' power back on from St. Johns to East Hazleton, according to Herron.
"They came to help out from Florida, North Carolina and Indiana, working diligently to get all power restored by Sunday," Herron said.
More than 1,500 workers from PPL and its affiliates are working around the clock, as safely and quickly as possible to help restore power from the storm according to Herron.
The company expects about 85 percent to have power restored by Friday evening and officials say the crews are making significant progress in restoring power with the focus on public health and safety and to make repairs to bring back power to larger numbers of customers and places like hospitals a top priority.
Hazleton, Frackville, Bloomsburg, Lehigh Valley and north into northeastearn Pennsylvania should have the last of its power to customers restored by 11 p.m. Sunday, according to a PPL release.
An extra 150 utility workers are expected to arrive by Thursday from the deep south, increasing the total to more than 2,700 including PPL Electric Utilities' physical work force of about 500. The company release states that at least a half dozen states including Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Missouri and Wisconsin are expected to send more help to restore power in the state.
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, about 266,000 customers were out of service with most of that total in the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania sections of the state.
PPL reminds everyone to stay away from downed lines and poles and allow crews to take care of unsafe situations.
More information on what the utility is doing to restore power can be found on www.pplelectric.com.
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