State begins mopping up after Irene

Weather kills 4; Corbett seeks aid


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HARRISBURG -- Four men died in separate incidents in Eastern Pennsylvania Sunday as the result of strong winds and drenching rains caused by Hurricane Irene.

Gov. Tom Corbett, at a news conference at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency here, said a man who was in a tent in Dauphin County, near Harrisburg, died when the storm knocked down a tree that fell on him about 5 a.m.

A second man who was sitting in a camper in Luzerne County in northeast Pennsylvania died when a tree fell on his vehicle. The third victim was driving on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Carbon County when his car went over water on the road and he lost control, went over an embankment and struck a tree. No names, ages or other details were given about the victims.

The fourth victim, Michael Scerarko, 44, was killed Sunday when a tree fell on him in his yard in Stroudsburg. Mr. Scerarko pushed his son out of the way, but could not get out of the way himself, police said.

Mr. Corbett, who appeared Sunday with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and PEMA Director Glenn Cannon, also said he had sent a letter Sunday to President Barack Obama requesting federal emergency disaster assistance for 11 storm-damaged counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Wyoming and Wayne.

In addition, said PEMA spokeswoman Ruth Miller, "Other counties could be added to the request as the state goes through the damage assessment and recovery process."

Rain from the enormous storm fell as far west as Altoona, but the only weather effects in the Pittsburgh area were fluffy clouds and stiff breezes. The storm did have a local impact: Scores of flights from Pittsburgh International Airport to New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston and Washington, D.C., were canceled.

Mr. Corbett said that none of the four nuclear power plants in Eastern Pennsylvania -- Three Mile Island, Limerick, Susquehanna and Peach Bottom -- had suffered any "adverse effects" from the storm.

About 1,600 state National Guard troops were called out during the storm. The governor said they helped evacuate people stranded in areas of high water and set up a Red Cross shelter in Chester County.

While the hurricane moved out of the state earlier Sunday, the governor said state residents could still face a threat from high flood waters, and again urged motorists not to drive through standing water. He said damage could be caused by a rough road surface below the water as well as slippery conditions from road ponding.

Ms. Miller said that although the 45 mph speed limit that had been imposed on eastern sections of the turnpike Saturday has now been lifted, that speed limit is still in effect for some PennDOT-maintained roads in the eastern part of the state.

"Before motorists head out they should check www.511pa.com or call 511," she said.

Mr. Corbett said transportation was also getting back to normal in Philadelphia, one of the hardest-hit areas. The mass transit system, which had been shut down Saturday, was again operational Sunday and the Philadelphia International Airport was back in operation at 4:30 p.m.


Tom Barnes: tbarnes@post-gazette.com or 1-717-623-1238.


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