High winds that came with the winter storm which blew through the area on Friday played havoc with local communications and electrical systems throughout the area.
Emergency Management Coordinator Gene Dziak reported that many people could not use their cell phones on Friday because Verizon Communications experienced major problems due to a failure in one of its fiber optic lines.
Problems with Verizon’s cellular service extended to other sections of Pennsylvania. As a result, many attempting to contact Wyoming County’s 9-11 center via the cell phones were unable to do so.
Dziak also reported that the winds knocked down many trees in Wyoming County, blocking roads and causing power outages in some areas.
Schools were again closed, and many events were canceled on Friday, as a result of the inclement weather.
Also, because power was out in Nicholson during the storm, plans were made to move some of the residents from SJ Bailey Apartments. However, before the move was made, power was restored to the area around 12:45 p.m. on Saturday.
During the storm a car overturned in Susquehanna County near Meshoppen, spilling gasoline into a local creek.
Dziak said he dispatched one of his people to the scene at the request of Susquehanna County.
Dziak reported the electric companies were contacted where the trees took down the lines, to make certain the power was turned off.
Under such circumstances, the electric companies are first contacted to make certain the power is shut off before the trees are removed, Dziak said.
Penelec spokesman Scott Surgeoner said that about 1,500 customers Wyoming County were without power on Friday and Saturday. Most of the outages were caused by the high winds knocking down trees and power lines. Surgeoner said that crews worked through most of Friday night and Saturday morning to restore service, except when the winds exceeded 40 miles per hour. In such situations, it is not safe to send people up in a bucket to do repair work, he explained.
Jeff Fetzer, vice-president of communications for Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative, reported that power went out to about 2,000 customers during the weekend. The hardest area hit was east of Tunkhannock, he said.
Claverack crews were out replacing utility poles damaged by the high winds, Fetzer explained. Crews worked throughout Saturday night, and power was restored to all Claverack customers by 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Some PPL customers in Factoryville and other locations were also without power due to the storm for as much as 18 hours.
According to a PPL spokesman, as many as 104 customers in Wyoming County were without power Saturday morning out of the 5,899 typically served.
The downed trees also caused problems for drivers - particularly those which blocked the roads.
Dziak reported that PennDOT crews were busy removing trees from state roads, while maintenance personnel from municipalities worked to clear the local roads.
PennDOT spokesman Mike Taluto reported that crews were also busy keeping the roads clear in Wyoming County during the storm.
“We had 17 plow trucks out, five loaders, 10 graders and one anti-icing truck,” Taluto explained.
There were 11 temporary workers assisting the 33 regular crew members, working over a 24-hour period in 12-hour sifts.
Crews were put on notification at midnight on Friday, Taluto said, and a stand down order was issued around 3 p.m. on Sunday.