Powerless In Pennsylvania And Awaiting The Storm's Return

Over 400,000 people in Pennsylvania still have no power following this week's ice storm. Many won't get back their power back before Sunday — but another winter super storm is expected over the weekend, worrying officials and residents over how they will stay warm.

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In Pennsylvania, some 350,000 customers are still without electricity. That's down from 623,000 who originally lost power because of Tuesday's ice storm. Today, President Obama signed a disaster declaration for Philadelphia and surrounding counties.

And NPR's Jeff Brady reports the federal government is sending generators to help restore electricity to key facilities.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: This is second worst storm in the history of the local utility PECO. The only storm that left more people without power was Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Hardest hit by the ice storm, the suburbs north and west of Philadelphia. Near the town of Glenside, a utility worker repaired the cross-section on one pole damaged by the storm.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)

BRADY: On the other side of town, two men spent the afternoon tromping through a thick layer of crunchy snow, to clear Doug Kroll's front yard.

DOUG KROLL: Well, we're trying to clean up a large branch that fell from this maple tree.

BRADY: Kroll says he's driven around the community the last few days to survey damage.

KROLL: I've seen several hundred properties just in the last three days. And I would say every property has a major tree limb or tree down.

BRADY: Kroll is worried about snow and even colder temperatures in the weekend weather forecast. That's one reason even more crews will be traveling to help out Pennsylvania than did after Hurricane Sandy. Governor Tom Corbett says cleaning up when it's cold is tougher.

GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT: At some point, we're going to have over 5,000 individuals from around the country, as far west as Chicago, I believe, and as far south as Washington, D.C., coming in here through their mutual aid assistance agreements with the other companies that are going to be working 16-hour shifts.

BRADY: Governor Corbett says the president's emergency declaration today means federal help is on the way.

CORBETT: Seven flatbeds of equipment generators that are coming with, you know, I believe, about 60 teams.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The first wave...

CORBETT: The first wave, 60 teams that will install those generators where they're needed, as needed.

BRADY: Corbett says nursing homes and health care facilities are the priority. While crews have made progress restoring power, authorities are warning others may not get electricity again until the end of this weekend. With temperatures in the teens, authorities are encouraging people to find someplace warm to go, such as one of the shelters set up around the region.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia.

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