Westmoreland storm cleanup in full force
By Mary Pickels
Published: Friday, July 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A powerful storm on Wednesday downed trees and caused power outages in sections of Westmoreland County, including Derry Township, where it toppled tents and crushed animal cages at the agricultural fair but caused no injuries.
Richard Balik, chief of Salem Township Volunteer Fire Department, Company No. 1 (Slickville), said the department began receiving calls shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“We logged 34 calls, from about 20 incidents,” he said on Thursday.
Sections of Route 819 north, Athena Drive, Rock Springs Road and Church Street were closed at some point because of downed trees or power lines.
Route 819 and Rock Springs reopened, while utility crews continued to repair power lines downed by trees on Athena and Church on Thursday afternoon.
“We should have everything cleaned up by (Friday) morning,” said township Supervisor Bob Zundel.
He and Supervisor Ron Martz related incidents of motorists moving barricades or driving on the edges of roads that had been closed.
“They are taking their lives in their hands,” Zundel said.
Firefighters attempting to check on Floretta Johns, who is bedridden and depends on oxygen and a ventilator, had to follow Route 22 and Trees Mills Road to reach her Winchester Lane residence, Balik said.
Bill Johns had called 911 on Wednesday evening when his power failed. A battery back-up for his wife's medical equipment only lasts a certain time, he said.
With the assistance of township officials and firefighters, along with a neighbor, Johns said, three generators — the first two failed — were provided before power was restored at 3 p.m.
It was the first time his wife required a generator, he said, praising the township's efforts.
Balik said firefighters remained out until 4 a.m., blocking off roads, protecting people from power lines and directing traffic.
In Murrysville, a police dispatcher reported trees fell into the municipal building parking lot, but no vehicle damage or injuries resulted.
By midday, director of public works and parks Bob Bell reported all roads were open.
Traffic signals on Old William Penn Highway and Route 22 were working by Wednesday night, he said.
“We are cleaning up a lot of downed trees,” Bell said.
A crew of six municipal workers on Wednesday night had to return to their homes and retrieve chain saws to clear trees to reach the public works building, Bell said.
“We had crews out from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and started again at 6 a.m. (Thursday),” he said.
Mary Duncan, vice president of the Derry Township Agricultural Fair, said a corps of volunteers had begun working on erecting tents and placing coops for rabbits and chickens when the storm blew in.
At least five large tents collapsed, one while a man was working inside it.
The man was not injured, Duncan said.
The coops, she said, were “squashed.”
An electrical-box connection was torn off a pole.
“We hope to have everything up and running for Sunday's opening,” she said.
Duncan said she and president Melissa Monticue, secretary Megan Reed and treasurer Lacy Weimer have been involved with the fair for years.
“We have three days to try to get everything done. We plan to bust our butts,” she said.
West Penn Power spokesman Todd Meyers said about 50,000 customers lost power Wednesday night, with 22,000 of them in Washington County.
Westmoreland County customer outages numbered about 6,000 to 7,000, he said.
By 5 p.m. Thursday, West Penn Power's website showed 258 customers in Westmoreland County still lacked power, including 100 in Salem and 26 in Murrysville.
The site noted that power was expected to be restored to the majority of customers by noon Friday.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Husband to stand trial in Derry middle school teacher’s murder
- 4 Franklin Regional students remain hospitalized for stab wounds
- Mt. Pleasant to save with energy-efficient lighting
- Youngwood woman charged with selling heroin in Greensburg hospital
- Failed inspection could make Jeannette flood-control project more costly
- Scottdale center to host tribute to singing legends
- Westmoreland County shared ride program sees drop in usage
- Lt. governor to speak at Westmoreland County GOP’s Reagan dinner
- Latrobe couple charged with shoving guard, stealing from Wal-Mart
- Norvelt man’s art on display at Seton Hill University’s gallery
- None injured when car strikes school bus in Derry Township