It could have been a lot worse.
While Superstorm Sandy packed an unprecedented punch that left scores around the state without power and resulted in several deaths along the Eastern Seaboard, Cumberland County escaped the storm’s wrath almost unscathed.
As a result of the storm, about 200 area roads were closed due to flooding, downed trees and power lines and, as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, almost 400,000 PPL customers in 28 counties were without power.
Several municipalities, including Carlisle Borough, remained in a state of emergency and PennDOT crews worked feverishly on roads to ensure the safety of motorists who found it necessary to travel.
“We are doing pretty good even though there are people without power. The utility companies are doing a good job,” said Megan Silverstrim, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Department of Public Safety.
Silverstrim noted that there were concerns about the rain and wind left in Sandy’s wake and also areas where flooding and wet leaves made for dangerous ground for motorists to try to navigate.
One area, Alexander Spring Road near Carlisle Regional Medical Center, was closed because of flooding.
Silverstrim said emergency companies had been alerted to use an alternate route to and from the hospital.
“I think we fared pretty well compared to other areas in the state,” Silverstrim said. “The way this turned out, we were spared the worst. This could have been a lot worse in Cumberland County.”
PPL Electric Utilities spokesman James Naughton said those in Northeast Pennsylvania were the hardest hit in the state.
“We handle 29 counties in Pennsylvania and (as of Tuesday morning), we have more than 400,000 people without power,” Naughton said. “That is as bad as we thought it was going to be for sure, but what is surprising is that in Central Pennsylvania, we didn’t have the damage we thought we would.”
For instance, Naughton said, there were 1,080 customers without power in Cumberland County as of Tuesday morning, including 16 in Carlisle Borough, 12 in Camp Hill, 185 in East Pennsboro Township, 7 in Middlesex, 35 in North Middleton Township, 144 in Penn Township, 14 in Shiremanstown and 52 in West Pennsboro Township.
As of Tuesday evening, PPL reports that 226 customers are still without power in Cumberland County.
“At this stage, the storm has pretty much subsided,” he said. “We couldn’t work (Monday night) because the heavy winds made it unsafe for our crews.”
Also, while the storm severely damaged most of the East Coast, Central Pennsylvania’s damage proved not much different from a normal summer thunderstorm, Naughton said.
Met-Ed Utility Company officials said 3,000 of its customers in Cumberland County were without power as of Tuesday afternoon and 265,000 customers statewide had no power. Those numbers have decreased to 616 outages in Cumberland County, and 165,791 outages across the state as of Tuesday evening.
“We’re assessing the damage,” said Scott Surgeoner, spokesman for First Energy Corporation, Met-Ed’s parent company. “This is going to be a very significant storm for us. It has had impacts throughout the entire state, Ohio and New Jersey. At the very least, we’re looking at several days.”
South Middleton Township Supervisor Tom Faley said local crews worked during the night to secure downed trees and flood areas.
Faley said the intersection of Petersburg and Lerew roads were heavily flooded and the sector on Pine School Road between Frost and Oxford roads was closed because of downed trees.
“Overall, it was a bad storm particularly with the flooding,” Faley said. “Flooding was a significant problem, but we have had in past winters storms with the same effects. If there had been snow, it would have been far worse.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said on Tuesday that 433 roads and bridges are closed in the state and 1,700 National Guard troops have been deployed.
Corbett said 600 people are in 48 shelters and 38 counties are under emergency declarations.
Two deaths from falling trees had been reported in Susquehanna and Berks counties.
Also, Corbett said he would reach out to the governors of New York and New Jersey to offer resources such as medical personnel and shelter help.
“If we have resources available, we will make it available,” Corbett said.
Red Cross officials said they were prepared to help as many victims as possible.