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Gov. Tom Corbett signs disaster emergency proclamation in Pennsylvania

By 69 News, (follow: @69news), news@wfmz.com
Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 06 2014 06:34:18 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2014 05:33:12 PM CST

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a disaster emergency declaration for the state.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -

President Obama has declared a state of emergency for Pennsylvania, a move that helps the state tackle restoring power to hundreds of thousands without it.

Vice President Joe Biden made the announcement Thursday in Philadelphia, where he was unveiling Amtrak's newest engine and touting the need for more investment in infrastructure.

At the peak of the snow and ice storm Wednesday, some 849,000 residents were without power. That has since fallen to 451,000, with utilities and government officials warning that it may take until Friday, or even later this weekend, for everything to be restored.

Gov. Tom Corbett, who took a tour of storm damage with PECO crews in Montgomery County on Thursday, said assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be helped to supply generators for hospitals and nursing homes.

"There is still quite a bit of ice out there and I know that ice is complicating the work of the men and women who are out on the lines and trying to reconnect the grid," Corbett said.

Corbett earlier signed a disaster emergency declaration in an effort to assist state and local authorities in responding to the snow and ice storm.

The proclamation lets state agencies use all available resources and personnel as necessary to cope with the magnitude and severity of the situation.

"This storm is, in some respects, as bad or maybe even worse than hurricane Sandy. Why? Because in hurricane Sandy it was during the summer time, the weather was warmer, the workers were not dealing with ice and snow to work around," said Corbett.

Corbett said the workers fixing high voltage lines covered in snow and ice can be referred to as widow-makers because their job is so dangerous. That is why a local lawn company warns to be careful around trees with frozen branches.

"Stay away from them. If it is something you can kind of get to with a broom to kind of just jostle them and see if you can get the snow off. But ice, there is no way to get it loose," said Warren Shaub, with H&M Lawn & Tree Service.

H&M Lawn & Tree Service also told us that older trees are more likely to have branches snap and fall, causing damage to power lines and homes, so they said try and take care of the dead branches.

The time-consuming bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of Corbett's proclamation.

It doesn't restrict travel on roads in the state, but motorists are encouraged to only travel if necessary.