More than 140,000 in region still without power
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More than 140,000 customers in southwestern Pennsyslvania remained without power this afternoon, and utilities predicted the effects of last night's high winds would linger for some into Wednesday or even Thursday.
The remnants of Hurricane Ike killed at least one person and left a trail of downed branches, debris-covered roads, and closed or delayed schools.
Duquesne Light, Penn Power and Allegheny Power are reporting that more than 140,000 customers still had no power. Duquesne Light said that 47,000 customers without power as of 2 p.m.
The company reported that hardest hit communities include Brighton, Hopewell and New Brighton in Beaver County; and Bellevue, Beltzhoover, Brushton, Hampton, Shaler and Richland in Allegheny County.
According to spokesman Joseph Vallarian, Duquesne Light sent 15 line workers to Texas to help with power restoration efforts there in the wake of Hurricane Ike. The workers, who are on their way back, constituted only 2 percent of the company's line workers, he said.
"That has nothing to do with restoration during the storm," Mr. Vallarian said. "The reason this is taking a long time is because there are something like 5,000 cases of wires down, numerous broken poles, trees everywhere."
Shortly before 1 p.m. Penn Power reported that 21,150 of its customers were without power in the Cranberry area, 19,350 in the Mercer County area and 13,050 were out around New Castle.
Spokesman Bart Spagnola said those numbers likely wouldn't change much in the next few hours, as crews that worked all night were to be allowed to go home and rest. He expected crews to be working through Wednesday to restore power, with a few customers remaining without power until Thursday.
As of noon, Allegheny Power reported having more than 22,000 customers without power in Butler County. Also, more than 7,100 customers in Washington County, 4,600 in Armstrong County, 3,700 in Westmoreland County and 3,000 in Allegheny County remain dark.
Spokesman Doug Colafella said Allegheny Power had restored power to about half of the 100,000 Pennsylvania customers who were knocked out. But the company estimated that it won't completely finish until tomorrow night.
An Oil City man was killed last night when powerful winds snapped off a branch from a tree and it struck his head, according to the Venango County coroner. Brendan Beck, 46, of Rich Street, was helping his father-in-law remove another tree branch from a roof when he was hit, shortly before 10 p.m. Mr. Beck suffered severe head trauma and died at the scene.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools were operating under a 2-hour delay. Parents can access information about school closings and delays on KDKA.com, the Post-Gazette's news partner. Commuters also can access the updated traffic conditions.
The Wabash Tunnel was closed around 6 a.m. due to the power outage but has since reopened.
The weather knocked several radio stations off the air last night. News/talk KDKA-AM went off around 9 p.m., although its back-up systems enabled it to get back on the air quickly, program director Marshall Adams said. The station provided news updates on weather-related problems overnight during the "Dr. Knowledge" program.
After an as-yet-undetermined time off-air, WYEP-FM (91.3) returned by mid-morning today.
The weather today was to be much calmer with temperatures in the 60s. Check out the latest conditions and forecast.
First Published September 15, 2008 5:54 am