By Maryclaire Dale
PHILADELPHIA: Utility crews restored power to thousands of Pennsylvania homes Saturday, but some customers in the dark for days after a tree-snapping ice storm may not regain power until early next week.
About 115,000 customers in Pennsylvania and Maryland remained without power late Saturday afternoon, and faced the prospect of a fourth night without electric heat or light. About 115,000 customers in Pennsylvania and Maryland remained without power late Saturday afternoon.
The majority of them were in the Philadelphia area, with utility PECO reporting about 107,000 outages, as of 6:30 p.m., down about 40,000 from Saturday morning.
The latest outages included nearly 47,000 customers in hard-hit Chester County, or more than one in five customers.
Montgomery County had about 28,000 customers without electricity, while Bucks County had 22,000.
PECO spokesman Greg Smore said weakened trees and limbs continued to fall, creating new obstacles. The company expects to restore power to everyone by Monday.
In Maryland, officials report about 2,000 outages.
The outages that remained Saturday included about 6,100 non-PECO customers in Lancaster and York Counties and 2,000 outages in Maryland.
More than 1 million customers lost power at the storm’s peak.
The affected area includes customers of two subsidiaries of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. — Potomac Edison in western Maryland and Metropolitan Edison in eastern Pennsylvania.
“We’re vagabonds,” said Robin Ross of King of Prussia, Pa., who has been on the move with her husband, shuffling between two hotels, their daughter’s home in Philadelphia and their veterinarian’s office, where they had taken their cat.
They checked on their house Saturday, but the power was still out. Neighbors who toughed it out for a few days with indoor temperatures in the 40s had finally given up and left, Ross said.
“Obviously, there’s Mother Nature to blame, but with the power lines and the trees, they just haven’t done enough [maintenance],” Ross said.
The snow-battered region appears to have caught a break this weekend, as the latest snowstorm threat dwindled to a forecast that called for flurries to an inch of snow across the state.
Elsewhere, crews were searching Saturday for a person who went missing after two people jumped from an interstate bridge in southwestern Arkansas into an icy river as a jackknifed 18-wheeler careened toward them early Saturday.
Three people were outside their vehicles after an earlier accident on the icy bridge when a commercial truck jackknifed and slid toward them. Two people leapt over the guardrail and into the water during 29-degree weather.
One person was recovered almost immediately.