Officials urging public to stay off roads – expected to be treacherous
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
The $899 price tag was no deterrent for customers determined not to endure another prolonged power outage, no matter what the cost. Forty generators delivered to the Costco store in King of Prussia disappeared quickly, leaving latecomers disappointed.
Similar mentalities throughout the region resulted in a run on batteries, road salt, and food staples as the National Weather Service issued yet another dire winter storm warning – in effect from 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, until 1 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 14. Forecasters said the precipitation would begin as snow late tonight, mix with sleet Thursday morning, and possibly change to rain Thursday afternoon before returning to snow Thursday evening.
Accumulations of six to 10 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 30 mph are predicted – putting many residents in fear of downed trees and power lines again. Weather officials and county officials are urging people to avoid travel if possible, especially on Thursday when it is expected to be treacherous. Citizens are being urged to stock a home emergency kit with supplies to help them get through a potential three days without power.
Some area emergency officials said they found strength in numbers. Doug Smith, a West Brandywine supervisor and its emergency management coordinator, said his township formed a partnership with West Caln and Honey Brook to qualify them for assistance from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). Smith said two PEMA officials would work during 12-hour shifts that will begin Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and go until 7 p.m. Friday.
Smith said emergency workers “are wiped out” and they decided to go this route at the suggestion of Robert Kagel from the county’s Department of Emergency Services. “It was good advice,” Smith said.
Kagel said residents should be reminded not to operate generators, charcoal and gas grilles – or any other device that produces exhaust, smoke, or fumes – inside. “Equipment like that must be operated outside in a well-ventilated area,” he said.
In addition, Kagel urged people to call PECO – not 9-1-1 – at (800) 841-4141 to report power outages. “Be sure to call them two or three times a day to be sure they know your power is out,” Kagel suggested.
Many area events have already been cancelled for Thursday, and organizers of some scheduled for Friday and Saturday are weighing their options, with some anticipating futility. Paint-Out Chadds Ford, an annual plein air art event sponsored by the Chadds Ford Historical Society, was postponed from last weekend to this weekend due to the weather and is now canceled. “Maybe next year,” one of the organizers said.
The Chester County Commissioners took a different approach. Instead of postponing their meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 13, at 10 a.m., they moved it up, holding it Tuesday, Feb. 11, at noon. The commissioners announced Wednesday afternoon that all county government facilities will be closed on Thursday, Feb. 13.
The weather has even adversely affected the popular Unionville High Used Book Sale. Organizers say donations are down, and they are hoping that people will take some time to cull through their collections. Donations of books in good condition, movies, DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes are being accepted at all district schools until Feb. 19. The sale does not include gaming software like X-Box, Nintendo, Game Cube, or trade-size paperbacks.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers these tips to prevent pipes from freezing. Use foam to insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts. Place an insulating dome or other coverings on outdoor faucets and spigots to reduce the likelihood of the water freezing, expanding and causing costly leaks. If possible, drip your faucets to reduce the build-up of pressure in the pipes; even if the pipes freeze, you have released the pressure from the water system, reducing the chance of a rupture.