BY MICHAEL J. RUDOLF
Wyoming County Press Examiner
A severe thunderstorm that ripped through Wyoming County on Friday afternoon uprooted trees and downed power lines, leaving some residents without electricity for much of the weekend.
"It was quite a storm and it hit quickly, said county emergency management director Gene Dziak.
Two people were injured as the result of the storm, Dziak said. A tree crashed through a porch at a cottage on the north side of Lake Winola, Dziak said. Two women who were inside at the time were taken to Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton with minor injuries.
According to Dziak, there were trees and lines down in just about every community.
The storm knocked out power to people served by three electric utilities in the county.
Penelec had about 7,000 customers lose power, starting around 2:30 p.m. Friday, said spokesperson Jody Place. The reports came from many parts of the county, with most of the outages in Nicholson, Meshoppen, Falls, Centermoreland and Tunkhannock.
"We had the majority back on by late Saturday," Place said. She noted that there were some isolated outages in several communities that took until Sunday to repair.
Homes along Mile Road in Tunkhannock Township appeared to be the last ones restored, Dziak noted, getting power back late Sunday afternoon.
According to Place, Penelec crews had to make repairs at 275 different places. She said 21 broken poles were replaced, and 65 sections of wire were hung.
Although unionized Penelec workers have been on strike since the middle of May, Place said the labor situation did not cause any delays in the repairs.
"I don't think it had any effect," she said. Place noted that management personnel with previous line experience were on the job, and contracted crews were also used. In addition, Penelec called in crews from other utilities owned by its parent company, First Energy.
In Tunkhannock itself, Mayor Norm Ball said there were several locations where limbs knocked down power lines. He said the worst damage was along Harrison Street and in the northern end of town.
Ball said there a tree fell and hit a house along Putnam Street, but the damage was minor.
There was extensive damage in Factoryville, according to Liz Ratchford, the borough's administrative coordinator.
Ratchford reported that trees were knocked down in several parts of the borough. Three trees came down across Riverside Drive, and a small tree hit a garage on Lindley Avenue, she said.
In addition, the winds were so strong they snapped the tops off trees in Christy Mathewson Park.
Broken limbs and branches were scattered everywhere, Ratchford added.
Several of the trees in Factoryville brought down PPL power lines as well.
"We were without power for about four hours here in Factoryville," Ratchford said.
The situation was worse in neighboring Clinton Township, Ratchford said.
There, trees blocked many roads, including the upper end of College Avenue, and the ramp leading from Route 6.
Ratchford said she heard parts of the township didn't have power restored until Saturday morning.
Rich Beasley, spokesperson for PPL, said there were about 200 homes and businesses in the Factoryville area without electricity in the hours immediately following the storm. PPL was able to have service to all of its customers restored by early Saturday morning.
Jeff Fetzer, spokesperson for Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative, said the storm did the most damage in the East Lemon and West Nicholson areas.
Claverack crews were hampered by downed lines from other utilities.
"There were some issues with some of our power supplier's lines coming down on top of our lines," Fetzer said.
He explained that the service lines from Penelec that feed into Claverack's system had to be repaired first before Claverack crews could work in that area.
That resulted in about a half dozen homes being without power until late Saturday afternoon.
It wasn't as though Claverack didn't have other work to do, though, Fetzer noted. In the hours right after the storm hit on Friday, he said the utility had about 4,400 customers without power, mostly in northern and eastern Wyoming County. Most of the damage was to customers served by transmission station near Oxbow Lake.
Fetzer said except for the handful of homes in East Lemon and West Nicholson, all of Claverack's service was restored by 2 a.m. Saturday.
The storm also had an impact on Tunkhannock's Founders' Day. A dozen vendors that were signed up to participate couldn't make it, said event coordinator Rich Santee. Most of them cancelled because they did not have power at their business location on Saturday morning, he said.