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Power outages many after snow

December 07, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

With approximately 577 Allegheny Energy customers still without power Saturday night, electrical outages appeared to provide the biggest punch to the Tri-State area in the aftermath of two snowstorms.

More than 8,394 Allegheny Energy customers in the Tri-State area were without power at some point since Friday night, an Allegheny Energy spokesman said Saturday.

Tri-State area police and 911 dispatchers reported a few minor traffic accidents as thousands of residents cleared their vehicles to do some holiday shopping.

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The biggest power outage occurred shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday when a short piece of wire called a jumper short-circuited a substation in the western part of Martinsburg, W.Va., Allegheny Energy spokesman Allen Staggers said.

The outage affected a good chunk of northern Martinsburg and part of west Martinsburg, including City Hospital and several traffic signals, police and hospital officials said.

The backup generator at the hospital kicked in immediately so power was not interrupted and no patients were affected by the outage, nursing supervisor Mary Gay said. The hospital had 97 patients Saturday afternoon.

Main power returned around 2:45 p.m., Gay said.

The power outage only was expected to delay the arrival of dinner because the kitchen lost power, Gay said.

Martinsburg Police Cpl. Darrll Ruppenthal said the outage knocked out traffic signals at several intersections, including some at Queen Street and Edwin Miller Boulevard.

"My main concern was getting the traffic steady," Ruppenthal said.

Every officer on shift was ordered to direct traffic, Ruppenthal said. He also called deputy reserves in to help, but power came back on while they were en route, he said.

Staggers estimated about 2,500 customers were affected by the Martinsburg power outage. They were without power from about 1:10 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Power had been restored to 5,100 customers in Berkeley and Jefferson counties since Friday night. Staggers said 319 customers in those areas still were without power as of 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Approximately 900 customers in the Nipetown area outside Martinsburg were without power Saturday, he said.

There were many outages across the Tri-State area since Friday night as snow and ice built up on trees and branches fell or broke and hit power lines, Staggers said.

Some of Saturday's power outages were caused by snow coming off tree branches and the branches springing back up and hitting a power line, he said.

Most of the more than 8,394 customers who lost power during the storms lost it for a short period of time, Staggers said.

Approximately 15 customers in the Hedgesville, W.Va., area and four customers in the Hancock area had been without power since Friday night until at least 4 p.m. Saturday, Staggers said. They had their power restored by 8:30 p.m.

As of 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Staggers said:

  • Washington County had 10 customers without power and power had been restored to more than 1,600. There was a lengthy power outage in the Clear Spring area overnight Friday, but details were not available.

  • Frederick County, Md., had 130 customers without power and power had been restored to more than 220.

  • Morgan County, W.Va., had 114 customers without power and power was restored to 897.

  • The only outage reported in Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania was in Mercersburg, Pa., in Franklin County and affected four customers.


Emergency service operators and police agencies reported few problems with the weather after midnight Friday into Saturday morning.

One car traveled off Interstate 70 around 8:30 a.m. near Clear Spring and needed to be pulled back into the travel lanes, Maryland State Police in Hagerstown said, but a dispatcher said that was the biggest problem of the morning.

Officials in the neighboring counties in West Virginia and Pennsylvania said they did not have many problems either.

A Morgan County dispatcher said they had a few fender-benders, but "I'm not even sure if we needed an ambulance on any of them."

Pennsylvania State Police reported one accident Friday evening in which anyone was taken to the hospital.

According to a release, Amanda Yeager, 19, of Mercersburg, was southbound on Fort Loudon Road in Montgomery Township just before 6 p.m. when her vehicle skidded across the center line. Her 1990 Chevrolet Blazer struck a Ford Escape driven by Tony Daley of Mercersburg.

Yeager and Daley both were wearing seat belts.

Yeager was taken to Chambersburg Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman said Saturday night there was no one by that name admitted to the hospital.

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