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Saucon Valley Cleans Up from Sandy

Hurricane Sandy caused only minor flooding in the area. However, high winds brought down many trees and power lines, and the outage could last into the weekend.

UPDATES:

  • The Saucon Valley Middle School gym/locker rooms will be open for hot showers and the recharging of electronic devices Wednesday from 10am to 9pm. Residents must bring their own towels and toiletries.
  • PPL via its Twitter feed (@PPLElectric) said Wednesday morning that "we do expect that this will be a multi-day outage for some, possibly up to a week."

Editor's Note: "Like" Hellertown Patch on Facebook and follow us on Twitter in order to receive up-to-the-minute updates on weather, traffic, power and more. You can also like" Hellertown borough on Facebook and follow the borough on Twitter.

Although the heavy rain forecast for the area failed to materialize, Hurricane Sandy's high winds caused another major power outage for the Saucon Valley.

The blackout began Monday evening, on the one-year anniversary of the October snowstorm that caused another epic power outage.

In that storm, snow-laden tree branches collapsed on power lines and support towers, causing an outage that lasted for up to a week in parts of Lower Saucon Township.

High winds are to blame for the current outage, which a Hellertown official said PPL estimated could last three to five days.

However, shortly after that estimate was given, much of the south end of Hellertown and surrounding parts of Lower Saucon Township saw power restored, which readers celebrated with posts on Patch's Facebook page.

Late Tuesday PPL continued to report that more than 13,000 Saucon Valley customers were without power, with more than 4,000 restored since the start of the storm.

PPL's online Outage Center reported that about 47,000 customers in Northampton County and more than 100,000 customers in Lehigh County were in the dark, with the Lehigh Valley being one of the harder hit areas of the state in terms of the total number of people affected by the power outages.

Saucon Valley schools remained closed Tuesday, as did local government offices and most local businesses, many of which will likely remain closed Wednesday.

Although borough offices were shuttered, Hellertown Borough continued to post updates for residents via its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Saucon Valley School District superintendent Dr. Sandra Fellin announced late Tuesday afternoon that schools would remain closed for a third consecutive day on Wednesday "due to continued widespread power outages."

One of the few businesses that was open was the Lower Saucon Township Giant, which was able to serve customers on a limited basis thanks to back-up generators that were brought online.

Traffic lights at all major intersections in Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township were dark, which meant that motorists who ventured out to survey the damage inflicted by the storm had to drive with caution.

Some major roads remained closed, including state roads such as Hickory Hill/Seidersville roads between Mountain Drive South and Route 378 and Flint Hill Road between Waldheim Road and the Bucks County line.

A few local roads--such as Bingen Road between Saucon Valley and Old Mill roads--were temporarily reduced to one lane because of fallen tree branches.

As of 3pm Tuesday, however, assistant township manager Leslie Huhn reported that all local roads in the township had been reopened.

A post-storm update was also posted on the township's website: www.lowersaucontownship.org.

All throughout the township large trees were uprooted by Hurricane Sandy's strong winds, which thrashed them violently.

As a result, public works crews from both Hellertown and Lower Saucon were working long hours Tuesday to clear roads of debris and make them passable.

PPL did not offer specifics about when Saucon Valley customers can expect to have power back, but via the company's Twitter page it indicated that its crews' first priority is clearing wires from roads and restoring power to critical care facilities, such as hospitals.

Its second priority is to repair major line damage and substations, PPL said.

The company said it was assessing 3,300 repair jobs in 29 counties and being assisted by more than 1,600 crews brought in from other states.

PPL also announced the details of its free ice and water program for customers affected by Hurricane Sandy.

In Hellertown, a comfort center for local residents opened at Dewey Fire Co. Social Hall Tuesday afternoon. Hot drinks were available in the building, which has heat thanks to a recently-upgraded generator system.

The comfort station will again be open Wednesday from 9am to 9pm and also offers free Wifi and charging stations for electronics.

Full-fledged shelters remained open in Bethlehem and Allentown as of late Tuesday.

Both Hellertown Borough offices and the Lower Saucon Township municipal building will be open with limited technological capabilities on Wednesday.

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