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Bethlehem Not Quite Past Sandy's Ravages

City turns its attention to seniors as hundreds of households in Bethlehem still lacked electricity on Friday night. City Compost Center open extra hours this weekend for cleanup.

 

The nightmarish aftermath of Superstorm Sandy may finally be drawing near a close for residents of Bethlehem.

On Friday night, the mayor’s office reported that there remained only 1,250 city households without power – 900 on the North Side and 350 in South Bethlehem. That estimate was significantly less than PPL’s estimate -- on its Outage Center Website -- of 4,500 households. PPL continued to give an estimate of 11 p.m. Sunday for having electricity restored to every household in the Lehigh Valley.

However, the utility did throw in one caveat to that estimate on Friday:

“Crews are discovering extreme damage in some locations and it is possible that small pockets of outages in places where crews are confronted with extensive work to remove trees and rebuild power lines could remain into Monday or Tuesday. If there are customers who are not expected to get power restored by 11 p.m. Sunday, they will be notified.”

Joe Kelly, the city’s director of community and economic development, said he could not explain the discrepancy between the city’s estimate of remaining homes without electricity and PPL’s.

But whichever number you believe, the remaining households in the dark was a vast improvement over the 30,000 city homes that were initially left powerless in the wake of the monster pre-Halloween storm.

Also, all but eight of the city’s 124 traffic lights were operational again, though eight still needed generator power. About half of the traffic lights in Bethlehem were dark on Tuesday.

Still, through a news release, Mayor John Callahan reminded residents that the city remains under a state of emergency with some households still lacking power – and perhaps heat – as temperatures were expected to drop over the weekend.

“It is really important that we look out for those without heat,” Callahan said.  “The elderly are particularly susceptible as temperatures drop.”

There have been four Lehigh Valley deaths resulting from the storm – two of them caused by hypothermia.

The city focused attention on two senior citizens’ developments on Friday, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to secure a generator for Kirkland Village, Callahan said.

At the same time, City Health Bureau employees worked with Wegmans to get a donation of food to the Rooney Senior Center, which also had no electricity as of Friday, the mayor said.

To aid in the cleanup, Callahan announced, the city will open up its Compost Center, 1480 Schoenersville Road, today and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to give residents an opportunity to bring in yard waste, which should not be left in the street, officials said.

“I want to thank city residents, business owners and visitors for their patience,” Callahan said.  “City employees in every department worked and are working as hard as they can to clean up the city.”

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