Photo by The Associated Press
(Blue Bell) -- An estimated 50,000 customers remain without power across central Pennsylvania, as clean-up operations from this week's winter storm are ongoing.
President Obama has declared a federal state of emergency for the commonwealth, which assists efforts to restore power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.
Governor Corbett requested disaster assistance from the federal government for seven counties hardest hit, including York and Lancaster counties.
"That will allow the release of a number of generators that are being shipped up already, because of the request, verbally, that we made last night of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to send equipment to Willow Grove, which will then be dispersed," Corbett says.
Those generators will likely go to hospitals and nursing homes.
"This storm is, in some respects, as bad or maybe even worse than Hurricane Sandy," Corbett says. "Why? Because in Hurricane Sandy, it was during the summer time, the weather was warmer (and) the workers weren't dealing with ice and snow to work around."
In York County, an estimated 32,000 customers are without power, while more than 8,400 homes and businesses in Lancaster County remain without electricity.
Corbett signed a disaster emergency proclamation last night, giving state agencies the ability to use all available resources and personnel. Normal bid and contract procedures are temporarily waived.
Officials are also warning about the safe use of space heaters, particularly the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dr. Donna Seger, a professor of emergency medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning aren't widely recognized by either the medical community or the general public.
``You don't think about it because you can't see it, you don't really know anybody that's been sick from it,'' she says, though in fact carbon monoxide can cause serious memory loss.
At the peak of the snow and ice storm this week, some 849,000 people were without power.
That number is now believed to be around 414,000 with utilities and others warning it may take until Friday, or even later this weekend, for everything to be restored.
Two state agencies, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Public Welfare have established a disaster distress hotline to help people cope with stress stemming from severe weather and power outages that are expected to last several days.
The phone number, 1-800-985-5990, is available to all Pennsylvanians to help ease the stress related to the circumstances surrounding the severe weather damage caused by the recent ice and snow storm.
Trained professionals will take phone calls to provide emotional support for callers. The TTY number for deaf or hearing impaired individuals is 1-800-846-8517. Help is also available by texting 66746.
Signs of distress may include any of the following physical and emotional reactions:
All calls are strictly confidential.
To track outages:
This story has been updated to reflect a drop in the number of outages in the state at 5:26 p.m. and again at 6:17 p.m. 2/6/14
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