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170,000 customers in Pa., Md. still without power after storm; most outages are in Philly area

Posted: 02/8/2014 11:09 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 02/8/2014 12:31 PM

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PHILADELPHIA - About 170,000 customers remained without power in Pennsylvania and Maryland on Saturday, three days after a winter storm coated trees and electrical lines with ice.

The majority of those outages are in the Philadelphia area, where the utility PECO reported 155,000 outages.

That number includes nearly 60,000 customers in suburban Chester County, where 80 per cent of residents lost power after Wednesday's storm. Montgomery County still has 45,000 customers without electricity, while Bucks County has 33,000.

"We're vagabonds," said Robin Ross of King of Prussia, who has been on the move with her husband, shuffling between two hotels, their daughter's home in Philadelphia and their veterinarian's office, where they had taken their cat.

They checked on their house Saturday, but the power was still out. Neighbors who toughed it out for a few days with indoor temperatures in the 40s had finally given up and left, Ross said.

"Obviously, there's Mother Nature to blame, but with the power lines and the trees, they just haven't done enough (maintenance)," Ross said. "I would hope after this experience that they look closely at where the trees are with respect to the power lines because it wasn't a ridiculous amount of ice."

PECO spokesman Greg Smore said weakened trees and limbs continue to fall, creating new obstacles. The company expects to restore power to everyone by Monday.

"There's still a lot of extensive damage out there," Smore said Saturday. "We still have roads that are closed."

The outages that remained Saturday included about 12,000 Metropolitan-Edison customers in York County and 5,000 outages in Maryland.

More than 1 million customers lost power at the storm's peak, 850,000 of them in Pennsylvania. PECO alone reported 623,000 outages, making it the second-worst storm in the company's history, topped only by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The region, besieged by snow and frigid temperatures this winter, at least appears to have caught a break this weekend, as the latest snowstorm threat dwindled to a forecast that called for flurries to an inch of snow across the state.

Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman with the state Public Utility Commission, said the agency will review the state's storm response to see if any improvements can be made in terms of forecasting, planning for the storm or having supplies on hand to resolve outages.

"We understand people are frustrated. It is frustrating to have your power out for a long time, especially when it's this cold," she said.

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