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Effects of Sandy might be felt for days in Tri-State

nearly 10,000 still without power

October 31, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Snow left behind when the remnants of Hurricane Sandy moved through the Tri-State area overnight covers the ground along Md. 77 at the Washington County-Frederick County line Tuesday morning
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

TRI-STATE — The Tri-State area was spared from the worst of the storm that had been Hurricane Sandy, but thousands could be without power for days, and many schools and government agencies remained closed on Tuesday.

As of 7 a.m., Wednesday, nearly 10,000 Tri-State area customers were still without power, according to FirstEnergy Corp.’s website.

Berkeley Countly, W.Va., topped the list with 3,661 customer without power and Franklin County, Pa., had the second-highest amount with 3,519 customers without electricity.

About 6 inches of rain fell from Sunday through Tuesday night, according to weather observer Greg Keefer’s website at http://i4weather.net/currentwx.html.

Winds were less than predicted by the National Weather Service, which lifted its flood watch for the Potomac River in Washington County and cut its high wind advisory by six hours to 2 p.m. Tuesday. Antietam Creek jumped its banks in the Sharpsburg area the Conococheague Creek did the same at Fairview.

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The highest wind recorded in Hagerstown was a 40 mph gust at 12:14 a.m. Tuesday, according to Keefer’s website. That was well below the 60 mph or above the weather service had predicted.

The rain will taper off through the rest of the week, with partly sunny skies and cold temperatures expected by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Sterling. Va.

The number of power outages in Potomac Edison’s service area fluctuated all day Tuesday as power was restored to some customers but other outages were reported.

It will take days to get everyone back online, Potomac Edison spokesman Todd Meyers said.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, 1,132 Potomac Edison cusstomers in Washington County were without power, according to FirstEnergy’s website. There were 1,054 without power in Morgan County, 220  in Jefferson County without power and 395  in Fulton County without power, according to FirstEnergy.

In the Garrett County, Md., town of Oakland Tuesday night, wet snow from the storm was still falling at 9 p.m. Tuesday and there was 24 inches of snow on the ground, according to a National Weather Service spokesman in Pittsburgh, Pa. Garrett County had 17,376 people without power Tuesday night, according to FirstEnergy.

“There are no restoration estimates right now,” Meyers said. “There is widespread damage throughout our service area.”

Potomac Edison is a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, which serves a wide area from Ohio to the Mid-Atlantic states. Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey have hundreds of thousands of customers without power, Meyers said.

Crews in less hard hit areas, such as Western Pennsylvania, are clearing up their work and will be reallocated to other areas, Meyers said.

The priority was to repair transmission lines, followed by restoring power to hospitals and public safety agencies, Meyers said. Distribution lines, which serve residential and commercial customers, are then restored, he said.

“You will see customers restored throughout this time,” although no estimates are being made of where or when, due to the severity of the situation, Meyers said.

Franklin County, Pa., had more than 5,100 customers without power at noon, or 9 percent, mostly in the western part of the county, according to FirstEnergy. Fulton County had 806 customers without power, or 13 percent.

Snow fell in some higher elevations of Washington County, including ridgetops along the Catoctin Mountains, and at the Washington/Frederick counties line. Meteorologist Brian LaSorsa of the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said the snow, which will coat grassy areas, could continue into the night and Wednesday morning, but was not expected to produce any significant accumulations, he said.

County government offices in Washington County, Franklin County, Pa., and Morgan and Jefferson counties in West Virginia were closed again on Tuesday. Berkeley County, W.Va., offices were open Tuesday. Schools in much of the Tri-State remained closed Tuesday.

Washington County government will be open Wednesday but county employees will be able to use liberal leave, county government spokeswoman Sarah Lankford Sprecher said Tuesday night. Liberal leave means workers can use some time to take care of personal responsibilities, such as taking children to school since Washington County Public Schools will be on a two-hour delay Wednesday, Lankford said.

Three emergency shelters were opened in Washington County, but only one — at North Hagerstown High School — received any people overnight. Six people stayed at the shelter, according to county spokeswoman Sarah Lankford Sprecher.

Temporary speed limit reductions ended at noon Tuesday, the Maryland State Highway Administration said, although people were still urged to limit travel.

Hagerstown Premium Outlets and the Valley Mall closed on Monday, but re-opened at noon Tuesday.

Hagerstown and Chambersburg, Pa., report that Halloween will go on as scheduled with trick or treat in both municipalities set for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The Hancock Halloween Parade has been canceled and there is no rain date, town officials said.

- Staff writer Dave McMillion contributed to this story.


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