Power restoration may take time in wake of storm

Photo by Yelena Kisler – The downed power lines seen here along Bucktail Road next to Grotzinger Road caused outages in many parts of St. Marys and Cameron County for most of the afternoon yesterday.Photo by Joseph Bell – Allegheny Motorsport located at 1275 Brusselles St., St. Marys, was one of a number of area businesses and residences which sustained damage during a brief but powerful storm that tore through St. Marys. A portion of the building’s roof was damaged during the storm.Photo by Joseph Bell – A powerful storm which swept the area Tuesday afternoon uprooted several trees and damaged power lines which led to extensive power outrages for residents.
Jake Perryman
Staff Writer

Work to restore power across Elk County may take time in the wake of a short but severe Tuesday storm.
The storm, which moved through the region early Tuesday afternoon, initially knocked out electric service to approximately 11,000 customers of West Penn Power in the county.
Initially, parent company First Energy's online outage map estimated restoration by approximately 3:30 p.m., but later damage assessments pushed that timeline back indefinitely.
Repeated attempts to contact a representative of First Energy went to a backup line intended to handle overflow customer service Tuesday afternoon. A representative finally returned a call for comment at approximately 6:30 p.m., saying the company could not provide a time estimate for restoration.
"There's significant damage there, so it's not all going to be back on today," he said, noting repair work was being prioritized based on the number of customers served. "Right now, we're focusing on getting transmission lines repaired. Our focus is to get those larger lines back on and recharge substations."
The company was calling in help from outside the region, the representative said, but Elk County was not the only region impacted.
"We have numerous West Penn Power crews that are on their way up there," he said.
Approximately 100,000 customers statewide were impacted as the storm moved all the way to the Delaware River.
"That big line that came through earlier today just kept rolling," he said.
Meanwhile, the storm downed trees and caused widespread property damage across the region, closing roadways.
As of Tuesday night, state Route 949 out of Ridgway leading toward Portland Mills still had a small portion closed, forcing traffic onto side streets. 
Businesses were closed across downtown Ridgway, while a few – such as Sheetz, which was operating on a cash-only basis – carried on in some form without power.
As of 6:30 p.m., only around 3,000 customers had had power restored, though that number continued to grow throughout the night.
Business and residential damage was well documented throughout St. Marys and Ridgway. Many structures sustained roof damage while multiple trees uprooted throughout the area. Trees and tree limbs damaged power lines throughout the area and made travel difficult for area motorists.
Adding to the dilemma was the lack of operational traffic signals throughout much of St. Marys. Many businesses along the Million Dollar Highway were not operational due to power outages.


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