a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Surviving Stormageddon Day 3

Cold and ignored in Westmoreland County

By Scott Beveridge

WEBSTER, Pa. – Allegheny Power, you are not entirely to blame for the power outage in this tiny village nestled among four municipalities with a combined population nearly 30,000 people.

We here in Webster, Pa., have long known that global positioning systems direct first-time visitors, inexperienced ambulance drivers and delivery trucks to nearby Donora, in place of our houses.

So here I offer the utility company a photograph of as many as 10 trees that were uprooted by "Stormageddon" after it began Friday night, pulling down the cable and electric wires. My brother remarked just two weeks ago that there was no excuse for these trees being ignored by the power company for so long because some of them were already leaning on those wires.

Meanwhile, I saw my first Allegheny Power repair truck today across the Monongahela River in Donora, a town that never lost its power to the heavy snow storm. It passed too quickly before I had a time to flag down its driver and direct him to tiny Webster with a population of fewer than 200 people.

Linemen, if you see this, the answer to our power outage can be found on Webster-Hollow Road. There are signs directing motorists to Webster from Route 51 in two locations in Rostraver Township.

By the way, can anyone tell me the identity of the emergency management director in wealthy Rostraver? To this date Sunday afternoon, no one has gone door-to-door in Webster to check on the elderly and sick, or to direct the neighborhood without heat to the nearest shelter for warmth and food. It's shameful.

Here I sit at Ringgold High School, near Monongahela, where senior citizens have been sheltering and raving about the local police and firemen for the wonderful job they have done to get them to safety. Thank you Monongahela.


The situation facing the power company is much worse that it seemed before I ventured out of town this afternoon to Monongahela.

There are large trees down across utility wires along the entire 5-mile distance along routes 906 and 136 between Webster and that neighboring city. It will not be an easy task to remove them and restore power in the area.

Meanwhile, I passed a large convoy of line repair trucks tonight on Route 51 in West Mifflin heading south in the direction of Rostraver. The amount of houses without power in this area appears to be widespread along Route 201 in Rostraver and in Jefferson Hills, Allegheny County.

The natural gas heater and fireplace at my house had the indoor temperature at 68 degrees at last check. Others are not so lucky.


As it happens, I have taken in the evacuated neighbor's overly-attentive cat until this mother of a storm has lifted and power returns to the neighborhood.

The candles are lit once more. Abbey has fresh cat liter, food and water, yet she still whines.

Outside, really the only way to describe it would be to say a hurricane swept through here Friday. The emergency folks are saying over there in Washington County it could be Friday until power is restored in some parts there. Here, in Westmoreland County, I am still in the dark and no one has said, to my knowledge, when rescuers will chop up the hundreds of trees that have fallen around here in order to return power to these parts.

Meanwhile, the cat is crying, seemingly afraid of its new digs. I want to tell her she should be so lucky to be warm once more as the temperature is dipping outside to 10 degrees.

To her credit, it is dark and scary tonight.


MJ said...

Great pictures and story. Hopefully you guys get your power back soon.

Douglas Roesch said...

Welcome to 1850... We were very lucky not to lose power.