Stories and Photos by Rick Hiduk
Linemen from Claverack and Penelec electric companies wait for specialists from Clearfield to arrive to lift high voltage Penelec lines off Claverack lines along Stanek Road in Meshoppen Township.
Those in Meshoppen Township who were not already up getting ready for the start of another work week were rudely awaken at about 6:35 on Monday morning by an explosion of a transformer that lit the pre-dawn sky for miles around. Numerous local residents and a portion of the Proctor and Gamble plant in Mehoopany Township were plunged into darkness.
The culprit was a heavy layer of ice that had built up during an overnight storm that began as snow and eventually changed to freezing rain, leaving secondary roads and private lanes and driveways glazed with about a half inch of ice.
According to employees from both Penelec and Claverack electric companies, whose lines cross in the vicinity of Stanek Road, wires snapped in the area of the Slumber Valley Campground as a result of the explosion. The high tension lines on the ridge about a mile above sagged and came into contact with local Claverack lines, creating a surge in both directions that tripped relays to residents along Stanek and Meshopany Ridge Roads.
Claverack employees were able to restore power to several homes fairly quickly but could not work west on Stanek Road until the Penelec high voltage wires could be raised. Penelec linemen on site had to wait for specialists to be sent from Clearfield.
The outage also affected subscribers of phone, internet and cable services in the area well into the afternoon. (Disruption of internet services resulted in a later posting of new EML stories and features than had been planned.)
A Blue Ridge Cable worker said that service to customers in the area of Stanek and Meshopany Ridge Roads was contingent on keeping two gas-powered generators running. Only customers to whom electricity had been restored had cable, phone, and internet service. One home showed the brunt of the power surge with black scorch marks radiating from the cable box on the side of the house. The Blue Ridge representative said that the customers were lucky that they did not experience a house fire.
Electric company employees were still working into the evening and indicated that power in the area might not be fully restored until the next morning. While some homeowners were fortunate enough to have back-up generators, many others remained dark as the sun set. Temperatures were expected to drop below freezing quickly after reaching the mid to upper 30s during the day.
Stanek Road was reopened at about 5:30 p.m.
A representative of Blue Ridge Cable company checks an amplifier on a pole in Meshoppen Township.
Faux Hill Road was one of several closed in Meshoppen Township while employees from two electric companies and an area cable provider worked to restore services to local residents and power to P&G in Mehoopany Township.
The cable box on the side of a Meshoppen Township home shows signs of the power surge that came through after two high voltage electric lines in the vicinity crossed due to an ice storm.