Nearly a million without power in Pa.
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HARRISBURG -- A weakened version of Hurricane Sandy traversed Pennsylvania without inflicting the damage received by neighboring New York and New Jersey, but officials said they could not predict when power would return to more than 1 million customers.
By the time it reached Pittsburgh late Tuesday, the massive storm that wreaked havoc on New York City and the Jersey shore had evolved into a winter storm with drizzling rain and winds of about 10 mph, Gov. Tom Corbett told reporters at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The storm had not caused major flooding, though smaller rivers and streams had warnings, he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Corbett said his administration would offer assistance to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York.
"Many times we wish we had oceanfront, but you certainly saw the difficult part of what a storm surge can do to a community, particularly like New York City and all along the Jersey shore," Mr. Corbett said.
"So we are breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief. I'll breathe a better sigh of relief when we get everybody back on line with their electricity."
Electric outages in Pennsylvania peaked at around 1.25 million customers, a number that dropped to 933,000 late Tuesday night, officials said. Nearly 2,500 utility crews from other states were in Pennsylvania to help restore power, said Robert Powelson, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. He and the governor said it was too soon to know when power would be restored.
"The amount of damage is still unknown, and what the damage is," Mr. Corbett said.
Three Pennsylvania hospitals are running on generators, down from eight earlier, Mr. Powelson said.
The state had opened a shelter at West Chester University to host 1,300 New Jersey evacuees and another at East Stroudsburg University for 500 New York evacuees. By evening Mr. Corbett said he had been told officials in those states believe they have enough shelter capacity.
Pennsylvania sent 35 ambulances and a mass-casualty bus to New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania urban search and rescue team, a 78-member crew, was sent to New Jersey then Queens, said Glenn Cannon, director of PEMA.
The governor spent 30 minutes midday on a conference call with President Barack Obama and governors of other states affected by the storm. Mr. Corbett said he was told the state would have direct access to the White House to address any needs.
"Power was one of his number one concerns, outside of what you see in New York and New Jersey with the flooding down there, and that he was going to make the agencies of the federal government available to us."
The number of deaths in Pennsylvania reported to be related to the storm grew to six on Tuesday, Mr. Corbett said. In addition to two deaths from falling trees, one in Susquehanna County and one in Berks County, a traffic fatality was reported in Somerset County, a death on an ATV was reported in Northampton County and a fifth person fell from a ladder while preparing for the storm in Lancaster County, he said.
As of evening, Pennsylvania had 45 shelters open with 449 people staying there, down from 923 people at noon, Mr. Corbett said. Nearly 2,100 National Guard troops had been deployed, primarily in southeast and central Pennsylvania, where they were unloading water and food from trucks, he said.
First Published October 31, 2012 12:10 am