By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — A tree fell and broke cross arms on a 69,000-volt transmission pole in Middleburg during Sunday’s fast and furious thunderstorm, affecting PPL substations across Snyder County and knocking out power to nearly 11,000 customers there alone.
That number was down to two Snyder County households without power as of 5 p.m. Monday, among nearly 200 homes in the Valley looking at nearly 24 hours with no electricity.
The transmission pole, south of Route 522 near Route 104, also feeds into other counties, accounting for the widespread outage. Union County, for instance, still had 143 homes without power after nearly 3,000 homes initially were affected by Sunday’s storm.
In Northumberland County, 44 customers still were without power at 5 p.m. Monday, down from nearly 5,000 affected Sunday. Sixteen customers in Montour County all had their power restored.
By 9 p.m. Monday, 77 customers in Northumberland County and 20 in Union County still were without power. Electricity had been restored to the last Snyder County customers.
Essentially, some repairs became more complicated as crews addressed them, said Teri MacBride, PPL regional affairs director.
“On some spans with lines down, crews would discover another thing down line,” she said, noting that 114 employees from Allentown, Hazleton and Lancaster came to the Valley to help with the restoration process.
Central Pennsylvania, particularly the Valley, had the most severe impact from the thunderstorm, MacBride said.
“Repairs, for the most part, are permanent, but some are temporary to restore the power so we can go back and fix them later,” she said.
There may be a lot of fixing this week. Meteorologist Brian Edwards, of AccuWeather.com, said this week in the Valley, temperatures will hover in the high 80s yet the humidity will make it feel hotter. For instance, Monday’s 81 degrees felt like 93 degrees with the humidity, according to AccuWeather.com.
The conditions are ripe for more afternoon and evening thunderstorms, especially owing to an expected, potent cold front Wednesday that will spark more widespread storms, Edwards said.
“We realize there are people still without power who need it,” MacBride said. “We will try to do outreach and encourage customers who must to get ice and water and to submit the bills to us.”
People are pretty in tune on how to keep cool for the most part, said Dr. Michael Donegan, director of the emergency department at Evangelical Community Hospital, Lewisburg. But in situations beyond residents’ control, like a power outage, people first should try to stay hydrated, he said, drinking plenty of fluids because sweating will shed water from the body.
People with medical conditions or taking medications that require they stay cool should go anywhere they can get air conditioning: a relative’s or friend’s home, the movies, even the mall for a few hours, he said.
“In order to stay cool, your heart is pumping blood to the skin, and that can stress the cardiovascular system,” Donegan said. This is perilous particularly for the elderly “because of medications or heart problems. For the body to stay cool requires work.”
If air conditioning isn’t available, try cool showers or baths, wiping down with a wet towel or spraying a mist of water on the body, Donegan said.
As for the power, stay in touch with PPL’s customer care center, MacBride said, and give as much information as possible about problems. The number is (800) DIAL PPL.