- Some schools reopen, but trees, power lines still down around county
Updated: 11:20 a.m., adds water info, warnings
Slowly, slowly power is beginning to be restored to the more than 100,000 PECO power customers still without power as of Friday morning. While most power is expected to be restored by tonight, some locations may not see power back until the middle of next week, the company said late Thursday.
The company says it has more than 3,500 crews, including many from neighboring utilities working on repairs — but the work is going slowly, in part because it is dangerous because of the icing conditions to work through the night.
Meanwhile most county schools are closed again — Downingtown, Unionville-Chadds Ford and West Chester Area schools all opened this morning with a two-hour delay, all others remained closed Friday — as some roads remain blocked by downed trees and power lines.
In situations where downed trees and power lines are intertwined, PECO must dispatch specially trained crews — municipal road crews cannot removed the downed trees.
For those without power and heat, Chester County officials have a shelter open at the Sturzbecker Health Center at West Chester University, 855 S. New Street, West Chester, where residents can stay overnight, get warm or use the facilities. This shelter is pet-friendly – pets are being housed in a separate building from the human residents – cages and food will be available.
Meanwhile, municipal governments, some of which themselves still have offices without power, such as Caln, continue to work to aid powerless residents and have put out the word on opportunities for get power for mobile devices or water.
The Verizon Charging Bus will be at the Giant Shopping Center today from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. A second charging station is located at the shelter at West Chester University. Both are free of charge to use.
Pennsylvania American Water Company has a water tanker available to assist residents with inoperable wells. Water will be available Friday February 7th from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Rock Run Water Plant, 198 Waterworks Rd. West Caln Township.
A second water station has been set up at Modena Fire Company, but residents are asked to bring their own water containers.
The state has set up a confidential hotline for those suffering from stress because of the ongoing emergency.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Public Welfare (DPW) announced that a disaster distress hotline is available to help citizens cope with stress stemming from severe weather and power outages that are expected to last several days.
The phone number, 1-800-985-5990, is available to all Pennsylvanians to help ease the stress related to the circumstances surrounding the severe weather damage caused by the recent ice and snow storm.
Trained professionals will take phone calls to provide emotional support for callers. The TTY number for deaf or hearing impaired individuals is 1-800-846-8517. Help is also available by texting 66746.
Signs of distress may include any of the following physical and emotional reactions:
Some of the symptoms includ: sleeping too much or too little; stomachaches or headaches; anger, feeling edgy or lashing out at others; overwhelming sadness; worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty, but not sure why; feeling like you have to keep busy; lack of energy or always feeling tired; drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco more than usual; using illegal drugs; eating too much or too little; not connecting with others; feeling like you won’t ever be happy again; and rejecting help.
All calls are strictly confidential. Counselors can also provide information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families, tips for healthy coping, and referrals to local crisis centers for additional care and support.
Power restoration continues in fits and starts, with some areas seeing power restored, while neighboring areas remain in the dark. As an example, along the US-corridor in Longwood, some retailers got power back Thursday, while The Longwood Shopping Center remained dark. A couple of retailer did open — the Radio Shack in particular, on a cash-only basis, offering batteries and mobile accessories.
That is a story echoed around the county, as few incidents have been reported and many with power have offered to help out those without, sharing warmth, and even the use of warm showers in some cases.
Meanwhile, the county’s road’s have taken a hit from the constant freeze and melt cycle — and the salt needed to keep them safe. As but one example, there is a car-sized pot hole on Creek Road in Birmingham. As most municipal crews are currently dedicated to tree removal and other emergent issues, the battered roads remain hazardous in places. Caution is urged for all motorists, as well as reduced speeds.
For those with power coming back on — the county health department is offering some guidelines on what to keep and what not to keep from your refrigerator and freezer: