Icy storm knocks out power to thousands in Lancaster County

With more than 50,000 PPL electric customers affected, Lancaster County was the hardest hit in Central Pennsylvania in terms of power outages from the icy storm.

In Columbia borough, about half the town was in the dark Wednesday morning.

Hours of freezing rain overnight into the morning brought the chill both outside and inside people’s homes.

“I woke up this morning and it was a little chilly,” said Ruth Motley of Columbia, PA.

At that moment, she realized her house had lost power. Tens of thousands of her neighbors in Lancaster County woke up to the same.

“I walked out of the house this morning and it sounded like thunder,” said Lee Stoltzfus of Wayne Plowing. “Limbs were falling. I live out in the country and it was an eerie feeling.”

The heavy rain and ice toppled trees and power lines and blew transformers, causing a flashing blue light show in Columbia for a brief period in the morning.

“Around 6:15, I woke up and I seen blue flashing lights everywhere,” said Robert Weirich II, who also lost power to his home.

It meant for a very early start and non-stop day for power crews and first responders.

“It’s a significant challenge,” said Chief Scott Ryno of the Columbia Fire Department. “We have our fire police out, we have our police department out, the fire department. Our streets department, you’ve probably seen them. It’s an all hands on deck morning.”

The outages affected about half of Columbia borough, taking traffic lights out, shutting down stores and prompting people to be a little creative when it came to keeping warm.

“Snuggling with the dogs, yeah, just layering and staying under blankets,” Motley said.

PPL spokesman John Levitski said he had no estimate as to when all of the affected customers will be restored. But he said the company is calling in extra help from its crews in unaffected areas and from other utility companies.

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