Post-Sandy cleaning begins
SHAMOKIN - The remnants of Hurricane Sandy roared through lower Northumberland County overnight Monday and with few exceptions, it's impact was less severe than originally feared.
Apart from one reported injury, short-term power outages and some damage to residents' roofs, this part of the coal region fared fairly well.
"It looks like we dodged a bullet there," said Mark A. Cox, public information officer for Northumberland County Emergency Operations Center.
Cox pointed to the damage caused in Schuylkill and Lehigh counties and beyond, saying, "The way the band went, it just missed us."
That's not to say Sandy wasn't a strong storm.
John LaCorte, National Weather Service meteorologist, spoke of some who may be feeling lucky or those who may have believed the original warnings were overblown, after the storm passed through the area.
"It depends on where you are. Lots of people don't feel lucky," he said, citing the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians without power and the millions more along the East Coast experiencing unimaginable flooding.
"It pretty much played out almost exactly what we were thinking. The lesser amounts of rain didn't lead to as much flooding as we thought," LaCorte said. "It was a big storm that affected millions, and it will take days, maybe weeks, to clean this up."
Local emergency medical technicians were responding Tuesday to a region near the N.J. coast, to assist first responders in the Garden State.
The Susquehanna Emergency Health Services Council Inc., which serves as the coordinator of emergency medical services in Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties, dispatched their "strike force team," with a convoy of five ambulances, a response trailer and a squad, on a Department of Health mission.
The affects of last September's Tropical Storm Lee had residents fearing a repeat of the flooding that plagued Northumberland County, but Sandy's real threat turned out to be strong winds.
Local measurements had wind gusts reaching 57.5 mph, strong enough to knock down several large trees and many more limbs in the area.
There were reports of roofs damaged in Shamokin, Coal Township and Mount Carmel, and a Monday-morning power outage disrupted electric service to more than 2,000 PPL customers in lower Northumberland County.
A tree fell on a power line in Coal Township's eastern end Monday, knocking out power to 2,023 customers in Coal Township and another 26 in Shamokin long before wind speeds intensified later that evening.
Power was restored to all customers here by early Monday afternoon.
Later outages totaled 2,072 and were reported in Northumberland and Riverside boroughs, Rush and Shamokin townships and beyond. As of 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, 592 county PPL customers, mostly to the north and west of the Shamokin area, remained without power.
Compared to counties to the east, Northumberland County fared quite well as far as disrupted electric service goes.
More than 403,000 PPL customers in 29 counties were without power Tuesday morning. In Lehigh Valley alone, more than 113,000 customers lost service.
By 5:20 p.m., more than 340,000 customers across the company's coverage area remained in the dark, so to speak - and that could last a while longer while PPL expects some customers to be without power for up to a week.
What Sandy wrought
Sandy, since reclassified as a post-tropical cyclone, had been forecast last week to drop between 6 and 10 inches of rain on the area and bring sustained winds up to 50 mph with gusts exceeding 60 mph.
Later forecasts downgraded the rainfall potential, between 2 and 6 inches. High wind remained a concern and as Sandy moved into the area Monday, Northumberland County was under both a high-wind warning and flood advisory.
Those warnings have since been lifted.
Ron Smith, manager of Northumberland County Airport, said the strongest sustained winds recorded at the airport were 43.7 mph and the strongest gust at 57.5 mph.
That fell within National Weather Service estimates Tuesday of between 50 mph to 60 mph.
Peak gusts of 48 mph were recorded at both Williamsport and Harrisburg airports, according to the airports' personnel.
An Aqua PA spokeswoman said 2.88 inches of rain fell in the Shamokin area Monday. Totals for Tuesday weren't immediately available because they are recorded in 24-hour cycles.
National Weather Service estimated between 2.5 inches and 2.75 inches of rain fell in the Susquehanna Valley through Tuesday morning.