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'Persistent' storm leaves Eastern Pa. in the cold



Published: Sat, January 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) -- Utility crews continued to work Saturday to clear fallen trees and repair power lines in the wake of an ice storm that knocked out power for thousands of customers in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tens of thousands of homes were knocked off the power grid during Thursday's ice storm and thousands remained without power this weekend as work crews struggled to restore service.

PPL Corp. said roughly 53,000 of its customers were still without electricity Saturday. The power was back on in 143,000 households that lost their electricity for some period of time during the storm and its aftermath, but officials were worried that continuing cycles of rain and cold could cause further damage.

'Persistent' storm

"It's one of the most persistent storms we've had to fight in recent memory," said PPL spokesman Rich Beasley. "As soon as we get an outage taken care of that may affect several hundred customers, crews drive away from the scene. Then several hours later, that line is hit with another limb."

Allegheny power said it had about 1,200 people still without power near State College, down from about 15,400.

The worst of the problems began late Thursday when freezing rain that quickly turned to ice encased tree branches and utility lines from Centre to Luzerne counties.

The downed trees closed roads throughout the region and the power outages left some households without heat. Churches and fire stations were still operating temporary shelters in some areas Saturday. Phone service was out in some neighborhoods, too.

Wally Sarna, of Jeddo, said he woke up to a frigid house on Friday morning, then spent the day shuttling a generator between his house and his 75-year-old mother's in an attempt to give both at least a little heat.

"I hook the generator up to my furnace here for a little while, and then I take it down to her house and hook it up to her furnace," Sarna said. "My mom's tough. She comes from the old school. She can put up with almost anything."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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