Schools, government offices reopen; life slowly returning to normal
Updated: 3:25 p.m.
Slowly, Chester County is returning to normal in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. While the county got off fairly easily compared with parts of New Jersey and New York City, cleanup crews continue to work to remove downed trees and power lines as life started to return to normal for most area residents.
Some 17,000 homes remain without power in the county (another 22,000 are without power in Delaware County) according to PECO, Wednesday afternoon — and a total 375,000 homes and businesses in southeastern Pennsylvania were without power as of Wednesday morning. That’s down from a high of 800,000 homes and businesses — roughly half of PECO’s service base of 1.6 million customers.
PECO worked were in evidence in a number of areas in southern Chester County — which appears to have been hit harder on power outages than other areas in the county — including electric workers from around the country.
The power outages remain much worse in Bucks and Montgomery County and the company is moving most of its repair assets to those counties, where each still has more than 100,000 homes without power as of Wednesday morning.
Power outages appears to be the biggest remaining issue from the storm, which appears to do less damage than initially feared, but still took down trees, flooded local creeks and caused localized damage.
A handful of roadways remain closed in the area, as crews work to remove trees and downed wires. Much, if not all, of the flooding issues in the area seem to have abated.
Schools have reopened as have most municipal offices in the county. Chester County offices reopened this morning.
Gov. Tom Corbett extended the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot for next week’s election — the deadline has been moved back one day for each day county offices were closed. Because of that ballot applications will be accepted through 5 p.m., Thursday Nov. 1. All voted ballots must be in the office — the Westtown Voter Services office — by Friday, Nov. 2 by 5 p.m.
The state Department of Health issued suggestions for those coping with issues following the storm, Wednesday:
“It has been very difficult for all of us to experience or witness the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to parts of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas,” said Acting Health Secretary Michael Wolf. “While preparing for Sandy was vital, it’s equally important to take steps now to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy after the storm.”
Wolf said that Pennsylvania has a wealth of resources available to help everyone in need, but that there are also a number of common sense approaches Pennsylvanians can take to help ensure their continued safety. He provided the following information and tips:
· Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
· If your power is out, you may try to power your home by using generators or camp stoves, which can release carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is released from many types of equipment, builds up in closed spaces, and is poisonous to breathe. Leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1 if your carbon monoxide detector sounds. Get medical help right away if you are dizzy, light headed or nauseous.
· Keep as warm as possible when your power is out:
· Hypothermia is a serious condition that happens when your body temperature is too low. This usually happens in very cold weather, but can also happen when exposed to temperatures of 40 degrees or higher. Those most at risk include older Pennsylvanians and babies sleeping in cold rooms. If your power is out for a long time, stay with a relative or friend, or go to an emergency shelter.
· Prevent electrical injuries:
· Hurricane Sandy left dangerous power lines on the ground when it moved through Pennsylvania. Never touch a fallen power line or drive through standing water if power lines are in the water. Electrical wires on the ground may be “live” and could hurt or kill you. Avoid contact with overhead power lines while cleaning up after the storm and call the power company to report any fallen power lines.
· Make sure food and water are safe:
· Food – When in doubt, throw it out! If electricity in your home has been off for long periods of time, throw away foods that can spoil (like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leftovers, etc.)
· Water – If your tap water is unsafe to drink, local authorities may issue “boil water advisories”. Follow boil water advisories exactly to make sure tap water is safe before you drink or use it. If you cannot boil the water, use bottled water instead.
· Prevent unhealthy mold growth after flooding:
· Clean up and dry out flooded buildings within 24 to 48 hours if possible. To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water. Everything that floodwater has touched should be disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach in one gallon of water.
For more information about staying safe after Hurricane Sandy, visit www.health.state.pa.us and choose “Click Here for Hurricane Sandy Updates” at the top of the page. You can also visit www.pa.gov for more information and helpful resources.
Note to our readers: You may have noticed that the outage number dropped by 13,000 today — count us among the lucky number restored, some 48-plus hours before PECO’s original estimate. We apologize for any inconvenience, but we should start seeing a restoration of normal service. Thank you to the many readers who sent us reports of what it going on in their neighborhood, and thanks for the multiple offers of generators — a brand new one is stashed away, now, ready for the next outage. Stay warm, stay dry.