Storm knocks out 911 system

Last updated: September 7, 2023 - 7:20pm

BLOOMSBURG – Thunderstorms bringing high winds and heavy rain downed trees across Columbia and Montour counties Thursday, leading to road closures, causing power outages, and knocking the 911 phone system out of service.

Jeremy Brown, Director at East Central Emergency Network, said a fiber optic line was cut somewhere compromising service for Verizon customers in several counties.

“It’s just not affecting us, it’s affecting the whole central region of PA,” he said of the 911 phone systems.

Emergency centers sent out an alert advising the public that anyone with an emergency should go to the nearest fire station or EMS facility.

They could also call 570-764-2089, 570-764-1646, or 570-594-9706

He did not know when the service would be restored.

Trees and wires down

The storm rolled in shortly before 4:00 p.m. with rain continuing through the early evening.

Brown said there were about 50 calls for downed trees in the area, although that was a low priority compared to dealing with the 911 outage.

There was no flooding or washouts, although Davis Hill Road in Briar Creek Township is closed for the time being due to the storm, according to Brown.

All other road closures were temporary.

There were no automobile accidents.

Falling trees knocked down wires in several places, with reports of wires on fire in some spots.

About 3,000 PPL customers across Columbia and Montour counties were without power with service expected to be restored in most places between midnight and 2 a.m.

Cooler weather expected

The storms heralded cooler weather which will last through the weekend according to Nicholas Beaty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Channel at State College. 

“Temperatures were the warmest they were going to get today, and tomorrow we are still looking at mid to lower 80’s,” said Beaty. 

However, the temperature will take a dip Saturday into the 70’s 

More storms similar to Thursday’s are expected throughout the weekend with the area expected to receive an inch or two of rain, Beaty said. 

Drew Mumich covers Southern Columbia County and can be reached at 570-387-1234, ext. 1343, and

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