Superstorm Sandy may have been downgraded from a category 1 hurricane, but it unabashedly unleashed its fury Monday night, resulting in massive power outages, downed trees and more than 50 fatalities along the East Coast.
Nationwide, more than 7.5 million households were reportedly out of power in 17 states affected by the storm. Power is not expected to be restored for up to several weeks in some locations. People were also left without landline and cell phone service, mass transit and heat.
Tuesday morning, PECO announced more than 100,000 customers were without service in Montgomery and Bucks counties, PP&L said 22,211 lost power in Bucks, 10,642 in Montgomery, 2,815 in Berks and 116,736 in Lehigh. MetEd announced an additional 62,711 customers in Berks.
As of Wednesday morning, PECO still had more than 100,000 customers without power in Montgomery and Berks. PP&L cited only slight decreases in outages, the most in Lehigh with more than 14,000 customers regaining service. MetEd restored power to close to half of its customers, but outages remained for 35,594 in Berks.
Flooding was widespread. Rainfall totals were the highest in Maryland where they marked more than 15 inches at Andrews Air Force Base, while area totals ranged from 2-4 inches. And, in colder areas like parts of West Virginia and Maryland, 24-26 inches of snow fell. Wind gusts were marked as high as 81 mph in Allentown and 94 mph in Eatons Park, New York.
The devastation from Sandy wasn’t more evident locally than at Dr. Evan and Sharon Moll’s home in the 1400 block of Markley Road in Upper Hanover. Sharon Moll estimated about 150 trees were down on the property and said the destruction resembled that of a tornado.
“You can’t even see our house anymore,” she said. “It’s the most devastation I’ve ever seen. There are several trees on our house. During the storm we eventually went into the basement for fear.”
The property’s shed, fences, tennis court and driveway also sustained damage. An insurance representative will be at the home Wednesday to assess the damages.
Area fire companies responded to scores of calls for trees in the roadways, downed utility wires, sheared poles and blown transformers. Green Lane Fire Company responded to two calls for trees into homes, both on Oak Drive in the Green Hill Mobile Home Park in Marlborough. No injuries were reported at either of those locations.
Locally, multiple road closures were necessary due to damages. Early on in the storm, late Monday morning, Zeigler Road in Marlborough had to be closed for a tree that fell into a utility pole. Road closures continued throughout the storm, including a major closure along Route 29 from Tollgate to Route 100 Tuesday due to multiple large trees and utility lines down.
Damage due to the storm, which could easily be seen by walking or driving down most area roads, is estimated between $10 and 20 billion nationwide. And while Sandy may not have been the costliest storm by far to hit the region, it isn’t one people will soon forget.