The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 29, 2012

VIDEO | Thousands lose power

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Emergency crews were busy overnight responding to downed trees, power outages, minor flooding and flooded basements during the onslaught of the superstorm created by what had been Hurricane Sandy.

In Somerset and Bedford counties Sandy brought several inches of wet snow, bringing down more trees and snapping power lines.

As of this morning, Somerset County has 3,300 customers and Bedford County has 2,600 customers without power, First Energy/Penelec spokesman Scott Surgeoner said.

But in Cambria County, the high number of power outages feared did not materialize.

As of 10 a.m. only seven customers in Cambria County remain without power, Surgeoner said.

"There were not many who lost power, the winds in Cambria County were not as bad as anticipated," he said.

As long as wind gusts persist, the restorations will be hampered, he said.

"We have crews out, we can only work the crews in bucket trucks when wind is below 40 miles per hour," he said. "They are out and working day and night and will be working until we get everyone restored," he said.

REA Energy out of Indiana, with offices in Ebensburg, reported that 142 of its members lost power through the night, but as of this morning all had been restored.

In preparing for the storm REA had contractor crews from out of the area on standby if needed, but they have been released and made available to assist other cooperatives in the state, spokesperson Stacy Patterson said.

"In addition, REA has sent three, two-men crews to assist other Pennsylvania cooperatives in outage restoration," Patterson said.

Rainfall totaling more than three and a half inches was recorded over the past 24 hours at John Murtha Cambria County Airport.

Johnstown City Fire Department responded to about 30 calls since yesterday, but Somerset County appears to have sustained the most damage.

A bridge washed out on Shaffer Run Road near Moore School Road in Jefferson Township.

Somerset County 911 reports these roads also remained closed early today:

PennDOT adds these roads were still closed this morning in Cambria and Bedford counties:

Cambria County

Bedford County:

Cambria County dodged the Hurricane Sandy bullet despite a quickly rising Little Conemaugh River which had officials considering evacuations, Ron Springer, director of Cambria County Department of Emergency Management Services, said.

"We were very fortunate in Cambria County. Our rivers are okay," he said. "We were watching the Little Conemaugh and we had concerns about the Stonycreek."

The river flood watch started before 9 p.m. Monday when the Little Conemaugh in the East Conemaugh, and Franklin area into the city began rising quickly.

If it reached 85 percent of flood stage, residents would have been evacuated, Springer said.

But despite the rain, the water levels began decreasing and, as of this morning, are at about 50 percent of flood stage.

The 911 center received 125 calls Monday evening and over night, mostly power lines down and flooded basements, Springer said.

An emergency command center was set up to handle calls from residents with non-emergency concerns and questions, he said.

Downed trees, electric wires and flooded runways causing road closures accounted for the bulk of the problems in Somerset County late Monday and early today as a result of Hurricane Sandy, said Rick Lohr, head of Somerset County emergency management.

The heavy rain that pounded the state for hours turned into snow and slush in parts of Somerset County.

Lohr said that while all schools in the county are closed today, the Somerset County Courthouse is open and there have been no businesses reported closed.

There have been no reports of damage to homes or public infrastructure and no emergency evacuations due to the flooding, Lohr said one shelter has been opened.

The doors of St. Paul's Church in Somerset have been opened to provide shelter for residents of Village Way due to a power outage in the Brierwood section of Somerset.


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