Centre County cleaning up storm damage

Centre County is still cleaning up after a powerful storm swept through the area Monday evening, downing trees and cutting off power for thousands of residents.

There were about 8,000 West Penn Power customers without power in Centre County, according to the company, as of about 5 p.m. Tuesday. Power may not return for everyone until about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

West Penn Power spokesman Todd Meyers said that 30,000 people in Centre and surrounding counties lost power during Monday’s storm.

“We’ll tackle the largest outages first no matter where they are,” he said. “Then we work our way down like ripples in a pond. There are still plenty of big outages out there. ... Please, please be careful. Be cautious of downed wires. They may still be energized. If you see it, call 911, your local fire department or us at 888-lightss.”

Spring and Harris townships have about 2,500 customers without power, the most of any municipality in the county. Almost no one in Millheim, Centre Hall and Walker, Potter, Penn, Miles, Haines and Gregg townships has power.

External crews are being brought into Centre County to help restore power, according to Meyers, who said that Centre County was hit the hardest in central Pennsylvania. Most external crews are from the Reading area.

As a result, school was canceled for both Bellefonte and Penns Valley area school districts, according to announcements from the schools. State College Area School District canceled State High’s day due to the campus not having power.

Centre County 911 services handled 508 calls between 6 p.m. Monday and 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, 911 Director Dale Neff said. A large amount of the calls involved fallen trees or trees down on power wires causing fires.

“It was a hectic time for us here,” Neff said.

Both the Centre County Emergency Management Agency and Centre Region emergency management were opened, he said, and were instrumental in notifying outages to West Penn Power, Comcast and Verizon.

“Stay safe,” Meyers said. “This was a particularly dangerous storm that caused severe damage. It may be a few days before things are normal.”

State College police were dispatched to “numerous calls,” Lt. Bradley Smail said — mainly downed trees and wires.

“You don’t know going out if they’re telephone lines or power lines when you get the call,” Smail said.

The station received several calls regarding malfunctioning traffic lights, including the intersection of North Atherton Street and East Park Avenue, he said. Several trees fell on houses and vehicles throughout the borough as well.

No additional officers were needed, he said, but day shift officers agreed to stay on a few extra hours to assist the night side.

Centre County Emergency Management Director Jeff Wharran presented the board of commissioners with an update on storm damage Tuesday.

The county experienced road closers due to “minor flooding,” downed trees and power lines, but Wharran said the floodwaters have receded and roads are open.

“To my knowledge, all roadways are open,” Wharran said. “We want to caution the motoring public to use caution and look for lines that are still down or trees and utility poles that might be on or near the roadways.”