Irene postpones first school dayHotel aids residents with power outages

By on August 31, 2011

By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff, Staff Writer

Hurricane Irene took its toll on these trees which line the sidewalk outside Cocalico High School. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)Hurricane Irene took its toll on these trees which line the sidewalk outside Cocalico High School. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

The anticipated first day of school for Adamstown Elementary students was pushed back a day Monday due to a power outage resulting from the east coast’s Hurricane Irene, which unleashed wind and rain throughout the region on Saturday.

"There is a ‘line’ right on Main Street between Met-Ed and PPL customers," said Nathan VanDeusen, the school’s principal. "PPL customers were online and Met-Ed customers were not."

According to Kurt Eckenroad, Cocalico School District’s director of buildings and grounds, four Met-Ed crews were sent out over a 36-hour period of outage, the last one finding the culprit, a tree which had fallen on power lines.

"We were out of power from before 4 a.m. Sunday until about 2:30 p.m. Monday," said Eckenroad.

Adamstown students were able to start school on Tuesday, which consisted of the same activities that were originally planned for day one. District Superintendent Dr. Bruce Sensenig is hopeful that the students will not have to make up the missed school day.

"We will be applying to the state under Act 80 allowances and requesting an emergency exemption from the state," said Dr. Sensenig, who stated that after the application is submitted a formal approval will need to be made.

Scott Surgeoner, spokesperson for First Energy, parent company of Met-Ed, said that of the 500 Adamstown customers originally without power, 400 were still without it on Monday afternoon. He added, however, that by Tuesday morning there were currently no outages reported in Adamstown and 113 Lancaster County customers still were without power, most of those in Denver and Reinholds.

"Hurricane Irene did not discriminate with its winds," said Surgeoner. "Generally the power outages have been related to winds, trees or flooding."

PPL, who was estimating three to five days for power restoration in most cases, reported that as of Tuesday afternoon, the power of all 2,021 of its Denver customers had been restored; East Cocalico Township still had 24 customers without power but 231 had been restored; and West Cocalico Township had restored electric for 1,202, leaving 45 without power.

An area affected in the PPL outage was Denver Memorial Park. This particular case, according to borough manager Michael Hession, involved a tree that had fallen from across the street, requiring PPL to cut off the power on purpose so cleanup could take place.

"Main Street was shut down maybe a couple hours (on Sunday) and we closed off the entrance to the park," said Hession, who assured that no activities were taking place in the park over the next few days and estimated the work to be completed shortly.

Hession said the water level appeared to be down by Monday, even though just days before it had spilled from Cocalico Creek into Memorial Park and from Little Cocalico Creek into Bon View Estates Linear Park, removing segments of the stone dust trail which will be refilled later this week.

"In comparing this one with Hurricane Floyd," said Hession,"(with Floyd) the fire companies were busy with basements pumping out water; they weren’t getting calls with this one."

Even before the rain and winds began in Adamstown, Denver and surrounding areas, folks in coastal New Jersey and Maryland towns were being forced to evacuate, some choosing to go two to four hours inland. Sherie Stetler, general manager of The Comfort Inn of Lancaster County North, located off Route 272 not far from the turnpike, saw an influx of guests, causing the hotel to be booked Friday and Saturday night. This gave her an idea. On Sunday she decided to post on her Facebook, offering a $49 a night rate including breakfast to all families without electric.

"I said to call with the code ‘no power,’" said Stetler, who was amazed by the response she got from families who either had no electricity or knew someone who didn’t. "It was unbelievable."

Stetler plans to offer the deal until all electricity is restored.

While some residents were struggling with power issues and fallen trees, Kirsten "Irene" Worrall, originally of Denver and named after her late grandmother Irene, was getting married to her husband, Ryan Kelly. The two Ephrata residents planned a sunny ceremony and reception outdoors at Stoudtburg Village but had to opt for a white tent on the property, secured at the last minute in preparation for the storm that bears her middle name. The wedding continued despite the weather.

"It was a muddy mess by the end but we had a blast," said the bride.

The whirling wind and rain were not the only excitement in Kirsten Irene’s day, however, as her bridesmaid and mother-to-be, Toniel Fetter, went into labor right before the ceremony, and had a baby girl at Women’s & Babies Hospital by midnight.

"A lot of the bridesmaids were joking around with her about naming her baby Irene, but they had a name already picked," said the bride. More IRENE, page A10

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