Bethlehem today continues a long, slow slog toward recovery from Superstorm Sandy, four days after it battered the region with record-high wind gusts that took out trees and power lines.
Restoration of electrical service to all of Bethlehem appears to be the greatest obstacle to normalcy in the city. Fallen trees also continued to be an issue, though it appeared that much of what remained was also related to PPL’s recovery effort.
For example, a downed tree that had blocked Center Street traffic -- and was also tangled with power lines -- near Macada Road was finally removed Thursday afternoon.
The utility company continues to say it expects to have the Lehigh Valley's electricity fully restored by 11 p.m. Sunday.
PPL is once again offering free coffee at Weis Markets in the Westgate Mall and on Crawford Drive from 6 to 11 a.m. today. It also continues to offer free water and ice to its customers at the same Weis Markets and the Supermercado Mi Tierra at 226 E. Third St. in South Bethlehem.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania plans today to close its temporary shelter at 2121 City Line Road in Bethlehem and open a new shelter at Dieruff High School in East Allentown – consolidating the shelters that had been operating in Bethlehem and at Agricultural Hall in the Allentown Fairgrounds.
More than 12,000 city homes – and 1,100 more in Bethlehem Township – still had no electricity as of Thursday night.
With six of 22 school buildings still lacking power, the Bethlehem Area School District decided to shut down for a fifth consecutive day today.
As more than a quarter of the city’s traffic lights still had no power as of 9 p.m. Thursday, Bethlehem Police continued to plead with motorists, via Twitter, to treat unpowered lights as if they have four-way stop signs.
“Stopping at an uncontrolled signal only takes a moment. Is it worth a ticket? Is it worth a life?” the tweet said. A dozen tickets were written on Wednesday, police said.
As uncertainty continued to surround power restoration at many locations, more and more events scheduled for the weekend were canceled Thursday.
- The ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, which has been without power since the storm, canceled its Musikfest Café show tonight with southern blues rockers Little Feat. The show will be rescheduled.
- Lehigh Valley Habitat for Humanity’s “” which was scheduled for Sunday at SteelStacks, was postponed until Feb. 21.
- The Lehigh University Philharmonic Orchestra’s scheduled shows tonight and Saturday at the Zoellner Arts Center were also canceled.
- The SAT exam scheduled for Saturday at Freedom High School was postponed until Nov. 17.
- And while the Liberty/Freedom football game scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday is still on, the traditional Freedom bonfire, which would have been held tonight, has been canceled.
- The Bethlehem Area School District extended its Oct. 31 tax payment deadline to today.