Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Power slowly returning to Tredyffrin Township — 1,100 remain without power on Sunday night

Downed treeAs the weekend ends, there’s a snow/ice mixture falling outside, with a National Weather Service prediction of an additional 1-3 inches. After the last week this community has endured, no one is smiling about tonight’s snow or more in the forecast for later in the week.

It’s been five days since the historic Winter Storm Nika plummeted the Philadelphia region into darkness. At its peak, there were 850,000 utility customers without power; restoration of power has now brought the number down to about 38,000 remaining households. A review of the PECO website shows the majority without power in the region are customers in Chester County – 13,000 remain without power tonight. Tredyffrin Township remains the focal point of power outages in Chester County. Although there is improvement in restoration, there are still 1,100 households without power on this cold, snowy Sunday night.

Today I ventured out around the township and the vastness of the winter storm damage is remarkable. Although the tree damage is township wide, in my opinion, the highest concentration of damage is on Valley Forge Mountain. Both Tredyffrin and Schuylkill residents on VF Mountain have sustained major property damage – actually, I don’t think there are many houses that escaped the destruction. After driving in that area, it’s now understandable why I’ve heard it described as a ‘war zone’.

Other areas that continue to be plagued with power outages and/or property damage is the Great Valley, especially along Yellow Springs Road, Croton Road between Upper Gulph and Warner Roads, Strafford train station area including Crestline, W. Valley and Homestead Roads, Chesterbrook Boulevard, N. Valley between Swedesford and Lancaster Ave.

Although we all understand that this winter storm was monumental in many ways, once the region has its power fully restored, there needs to be a thorough review – what worked and what didn’t work. In my opinion, PECO came up short on a number of levels. First off, although the major power outage occurred on early Wednesday morning, it was Friday before PECO appeared to get itself fully mobilized, 48 hours after many residents had lost power. By Friday, it finally became obvious to PECO officials, that they needed to call in reinforcements – and help did come, from Arkansas to Canada. I saw one impressive line of 20+ Pike Utility trucks from North Carolina leaving PECO’s Berwyn location this afternoon. It was reported that over 5,000 utility workers arrived to help restore power to the region.

Arguably, the most annoying thing that PECO did was to provide misinformation to its customers – I have yet to find anyone who received an accurate estimated time of restoration from PECO. Rather than constantly changing individuals’ restoration time (making it impossible for people to plan) PECO should have just said that they didn’t know when service would be restored. That approach would have been preferable to giving people false hope with their ‘by 11 PM’ daily speech! We had a displaced family from Croton Road staying with us during the power outage and PECO changed their estimate time of restoration multiple times during any given day, adding immeasurable stress to an already stressful situation. And this went on for 5 days until late this afternoon when service was restored and they returned home to 30-something degree temperatures (inside the house!) and major tree damage outside.

My criticism of PECO is not directed at those men and women serving on the front lines during this winter storm. No, those workers in the field actually ‘doing the work’ are greatly appreciated and thanked for their efforts. It was wonderful how excited people became when they saw utility trucks rolling into their neighborhood! The criticism for misinformation, lack of communication and slowness to respond rests squarely with those at the top of the PECO pyramid.

One last note — If your power has not been restored, you need to call PECO and report the outage (again).

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  1. Monday, Feb. 10, 7 AM update from County Commissioner Ryan Costello:

    Latest: 10,000 w/out power. County Emergency Ops Center still pressing 110 percent to have PECO get the number to zero. We’re now entering long-term clean-up phase in close coordination w/ municipalities.
    The word moving forward is ACCOUNTABILITY, which can mean many things, here it means assessing the how’s and why’s of having any future similar incident enable a more expedited restoration of power. County has no ability to get your power back, but our “on the ground intelligence” has value and we want to make sure it’s put to full use. We will press for explanation in writing as to the “hiccups” last Wed/Thurs/Fri and how they’ll be rectified in a revised action plan. As we all appreciate now more than ever, there’s a huge difference in getting power back a day earlier, however long it may be for an individual household.

    Finally, “props” to the lines crews, municipal road crews/PD’s/fire companies/tree companies/shelters/other volunteer org’s that made a meaningful difference during times of stress, discomfort and uncertainty. Props to Chester County Department of Emergency Services leadership and staff – you’ve been a great resource for Chesco constituents.

  2. I just heard that power was returned to Valley Forge Mt. late last night. In an email to me, a resident described counting over 50 utility trucks descended on the mountain in the afternoon and the crews stayed well past dark to get the lights on! Unfortunately, the clean-up is taking much longer …

  3. As of 9:15 this morning we still have no power in the Deepdale neighborhood of Strafford. The evasive and misleading messages from PECO continue on Day 6 without heat, power, water. Disgusting.

    1. If the PECO website is up-to-date and accurate (?) — there remains 627 houses (of 13,600) in Tredyffrin without power. According to the site, the total in Chester County without power is 9,331 houses.

  4. PECO needs re-organization. Kudos to the men on the line, but the admin of this weather related/man enabled disaster is a disgrace.

    Who will stand up to this utility? Some one needs to be brought on the carpet.. their management of this is typically terrible.

  5. I agree that PECO’s response time and system for updating homeowners on when to expect power returned were woefully inadequate. I have called Congressman Gerlach’s office, as well as Rep. Kampf and Sen. Dinneman about PECO’s poor performance, and hope that system-wide improvements can be made. We are still out on School House Lane.

    1. Sorry to hear about School House Lane. Checking PECO, indicates that the number of houses without power in Tredyffrin is now 496. Have you been given an estimated restoration time from PECO? I recognize that their estimates on power restoration is sorely lacking but thought I’d ask.

  6. You know, after the power outages from Sandy, and various thunderstorms, even after ONE DAY without power in the past, perhaps all the folks complaining SHOULD HAVE bought a generator. Do you have an ipad? A smart phone? For the cost of $300 and a trip to Home depot, your could have been warm.. yes, its called a generator.. BUY ONE.. I am tired of everyone complaining about Peco.. Guess what folks, this type of storm is going to become commonplace. The globe is heating up, and mother nature is pissed. These peco guys are working their butts off to fix the power lines. HOW LONG do you think it would take you to do it? An hour, a minute? A day? Working not with robots, but with TWO HUMAN HANDS, in cold weather, a 16 hour day, and everyone complaining to you, and about you. Give these people a break! They didn’t ask for the storm, they didn’t cause the damage. Fixing power takes time… and manpower. Could you give an accurate time after assessing this type of disaster? Like down to the minute??? How do you think you could handle the situation better than the pros? Trust me, they don’t want to be working on this anymore than they have to. These men and woman have families, lives, things to do. They are spending 16 hours a day to HELP YOU!!!! What more do you want??? GET A GENERATOR NEXT TIME< IF YOU DON"T WANT TO SUFFER… Trim your trees, the limbs, be PROACTIVE to help yourself, rather than REACTIVE after the fact.

    1. Whoa … I don’t think anyone is blaming the people doing the work. I was very clear that my criticism is with the the top brass at PECO not the utility workers doing the work. As for estimated time of restoration — we get that it cannot be guaranteed ‘to the minute’ when the power will come on and no one is expecting that. Due to the magnitude of the situation, I suggested that PECO NOT give an estimated restoration time. The problem was that PECO changed the time all day long. I witnessed first hand, the updates changing 3 or 4 times a day — and at one point PECO told the homeowner that their power was ON, when it would be 3 more days before it actually was on. The homeowner had to continually re-enter the outage because for some reason PECO’s system was not keeping their house listed. PECO shouldn’t be giving people restoration times if they don’t know or if due to the severity of the situation, it is impossible to estimate. How about a recording from PECO like — “Due to the widespread power outage, we are unable to give you a time of restoration at this time. Please stay tuned, we will update as information becomes available”. That people can accept. Sure some would have complained but that’s a heck of a lot better than the additional stress and havoc created by PECO’s misinformatin.

      Again, I don’t think many people are pointing fingers at the utility workers themselves — not even the people who have been without power for 6 days. And for the record, we DO have a generator but a generator is not a panacea. It cannot be left unattended (like at night) and in our case, the generator only keeps the wells on and heat in a couple of rooms. Certainly better than a lot of people had but unless you have some very large (and very expensive) its effectiveness is limited. Plus — even if we had a very large (and very expensive) generator, my husband would never have gone to bed and let it run outside unattended.

    2. the generator may be a good idea. but you lost me on the rest… more junk science.. heat is causing the cold.. the snow and ice.. and mother nature is pissed… good night nurse.

      1. Mville — you might enjoy the junk science book recently released:
        The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert….and while it may not educate you, it might amuse you at the numbers of coincidences that come with the planet warming and the ice melting and species dying….and snow storms in Alabama.

        1. i will be amused… do we have an impact on the earth? Of course. are we headed for armageddon? im not worried, as our EPA is on the job. I just hope they can regulate and rule over India and China and Russia. as the dinosaurs were replaced eventually by humans, I am wondering how much more evolved the next coming will be.. I suspect you have the answer>?

  7. As someone who went 6.5 days without power, heat, or water, I tell those defending PECO to imagine experiencing those conditions for nearly a week. Get your hopes raised and then dashed day after day by the nasty and misleading PECO customer service people, Scramble to find a place to evacuate your children. We only got our power restored when an alert neighbor waved down a PECO truck on Monday night. They were leaving assuming they had done their job, when 18 houses were still without power. It is not the guys out there working in the cold, but the PECO administration that is at fault. There were crews parked at the library doing nothing waiting for assignments on Sunday, when the neighborhood bordering the library had dozens of families out of power since Wednesday! Now another storm is coming. Pattye, during the next storm can you use your blog as a place where people can post info to help those who have been wtihout power for so long? It is so difficult to find places to go for six days. You don’t want to be far from your house because you have to keep checking on it, yet it is 19 degrees out and you’re sitting in the dark and cold and praying not to get pneumonia. As a community we can do better to help our neighbors in need — because the PECO administration certainly isn’t doing anything.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! I am certainly willing to help anyway I can with Community Matters – happy to post individual needs, etc. After the next snow storm on Thursday and people start their massive clean-up, it would be good to have a list of good landscape/tree people, contractors, etc. I’ll be glad to compile a list and have it available on Community Matters. Email me the contact information at Having names and telephone numbers for good, honest people that can help with our property damage could help us all.

    2. stranded, also this past saturday there must have been an armada of electric company trucks from neighboring states in the mall lot… probably 75 huge trucks… wheres the dispatch?

    3. Perhaps we all need to realize — up close and personal — that our infrastructure is decaying. We only fix things when they are broken…(exception is AQUA, the water company, which has been very pro-active in replacing underground pipes in roads throughout the area).

      No New Taxes for our township….how long can we listen to that mantra and continue to ignore the crumbling infrastructure of our utilities, our roads, and even some of our buildings? Because the township building (T) is relatively new, and the school district now owns a condo, we still need to consider investment IN OUR COMMUNITY.

      Verizon and Comcast — believe me — they work hard because they both exist as competition. Go to a community with only one and you might see a very different service standard.

      1. “and the school district now owns a condo”

        Did I miss something? Is this tongue in cheek? What do you mean? Thanks.

  8. We’re really grateful to Verizon person was from Wilkes Barre …it’s was 8 days without phone & FIOS. ..

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