Storm plunges 4,600 Columbia County residents into darkness

Last updated: December 26, 2022 - 11:07am


High winds and freezing temperatures that hit the region Friday into Saturday knocked 5,000 PPL customers offline, including about 4,600 in Columbia County,

As of noon Saturday, when temperatures reached their high of about 14 degrees, about 400 customers were still without power, said PPL spokeswoman Tracie Witter.

The Bendertown area was hardest hit at that point, with 167 customers out, followed by Buckhorn, where 152 homes and businesses were without power, and North Centre Township, with 133 customers in the dark.

There were also scattered outages in other areas.

Initially, PPL estimated repairs could take until 11 p.m., however, by 9:30 p.m., most were back on line.

Other regions were in worse shape. Near Lake Wallenpaupack, 630 customers were out of power. The utility set up 12 warming shelters where people could warm up and charge devices, though no shelter was listed locally.

The company called on other utilities to restore power, and received help from as far as Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Michigan.

In all, more than 2,000 utility workers, including PPL staff, were prepared to help get the electricity flowing again, Witter said.

The outages hit only a small fraction — less than a third of 1% — of PPL’s 1.4 million customers.

“Comprehensive line clearing, combined with extensive smart grid automation and investments in more storm-resistant poles and wires, have all helped to reduce storm-related outages,” Witter said in a written statement.

Still, in case of an outage, PPL advises people to keep their phones and other devices charges, and to have emergency kits with food, water, medication and pet supplies on hand.

The utility recommends people use flashlights instead of candles during outages to avoid risking fires. And it reminded people using portable generators not to use them in enclosed areas such as garages, where deadly carbon monoxide fumes could accumulate.

PPL also warned people to stay away from downed wires, which could be energized, and to keep a safe distance from utility crews making repairs.

Susan Schwartz covers the Berwick area. She can be reached at 570-387-1234, ext. 1306, and susan.schwartz@pressenterprise.net, or followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PESueSchwartz.

 

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