PENNSYLVANIA Gradually, power is restored to homes hit by holiday storm
Some folks in rural Pennsylvania are just recovering power from the Christmas Day winter storm.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Power flickered back on in homes across Pennsylvania on Sunday, giving some residents their first taste of electricity since winter storms marched across the state on Christmas.
Ed and Margaret Spielman got their electricity back for the first time since noon Wednesday, when an outage put an end to their Christmas dinner.
"It came on at 2 in the morning and my wife jumped up and took a shower," said Ed Spielman, 60, of Palmerton in Carbon County. "It was like stepping out of the twilight zone."
About 1,400 customers remained without electricity in eastern Pennsylvania at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, down from about 9,600 outages Saturday night. They were all in the Panther Valley in central Carbon County, and PPL Electric Utilities expected to have their power restored later Sunday night, spokesman Frank Baran said.
Most of those customers had only lost power over the weekend, when lingering snow and ice on tree limbs continued to bring down power lines, Baran said.
All but a handful of the outages in Berks County had been resolved by 2:30 p.m., a Metropolitan Edison Utilities spokeswoman said. The problems had been clustered in Hamburg and Reading.
The lengthy outages caused plenty of hardship.
The Spielmans lost freezers full of meat and other food. They got their drinking water from the grocery store, but used melted snow for cleaning and using the toilet. They huddled around a kerosene heater for heat during the day, then piled on layers of clothing at night.
Ed Spielman said he was glad to finally take a shower Sunday morning.
"I washed my hair two or three times," he said.
The storm, which brought snow and ice on Christmas, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
"We've had crews tell us they'd never seen anything like this in their careers," Baran said.
Among the buildings left powerless at various points during the week was Carbon County's Emergency Management Agency, which twice had to transfer operations and incoming calls to other counties while it worked to restore electricity.
The Times-News daily newspaper lost power at its Mahoning Township office on Christmas Eve and was unable to publish Thursday or Friday.
"It was something beyond our control. There was nothing we could do about it," said Fred Masenheimer, executive vice president of Pencor Services, the newspaper's parent company. He said he couldn't recall a previous instance where the newspaper hadn't published an edition.
Injuries and deaths
A mother and four young children in Mahoning Township were hospitalized Thursday after they were made ill by carbon monoxide fumes from a gas-powered generator. A similar mishap sickened several residents of an apartment building for the elderly in Jim Thorpe.
Two men died after suffering heart attacks while shoveling snow from the storm, Berks County officials said.
William D. Reitnauer, 57, died Thursday while clearing snow at his Muhlenberg Township home. Harold K. Bingaman, 78, was admitted to Reading Hospital after being stricken in the driveway of his Sinking Spring home, and died Thursday afternoon.