While the rains and wind from Hurricane Sandy subsided in the Lehigh Valley within a matter of days, the financial and emotional toll continues to linger on.
The storm which pummeled coastal regions, destroyed property and left masses of people feeling helpless is now projected to cost $60 billion nationwide.
Approximately 443,000 Pennsylvania Power and Light customers lost power due to downed limbs and lines resulting from the Oct. 29 storm. The utility provider had 2,500 linesmen working on restoring power to all of their customers in the eastern part of the state. Vice President of Distribution Operations for PPL Dave Bonenberger said they worked diligently on staff logistics in order to restore service as swiftly as possible. He said the effort has been "immense, time consuming and labor intensive."
PPL provided 10-pound bags of ice and three gallons of water a day for customers with extended outages. The supplies were made available at various Weis Markets, Redner's Markets and Wegman's locations.
The utility company brought in workers from at least 10 different states which more than tripled the existing PPL workforce.
Met-Ed, another local utility company, also had approximately 252,000 customers impacted by the storm.
Chief Deputy Coroner Paul F. Hoffman Sr., D-ABMDI confirmed seven deaths in Lehigh County attributed to Hurricane Sandy.
Governor Tom Corbett declared a statewide disaster emergency for Pennsylvania Oct. 26 to enable state, county and municipal governments to respond effectively to the impact of the hurricane.
The proclamation authorized state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation. The time-consuming bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, were waived for the duration of the proclamation.
Corbett issued the disaster proclamation based on the recommendation of Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Glenn Cannon and forecasts from the National Weather Service.
Staff at the state's Emergency Operations Center, located at PEMA headquarters in Harrisburg, monitored conditions statewide to assess conditions and coordinate to support county and local officials in affected areas.
The American Red Cross set up a shelter at Dieruff High School, Allentown School District, for residents of Lehigh and Northampton counties. A Red Cross telethon Nov. 3 raised $23 million in donations to support hurricane victims.
The Red Cross is always accepting donations to be applied to disaster relief and has reached critical levels of blood supplies due to canceled blood drives. Visit their website at www.redcrosslv.org.
On Oct. 31 St. Luke's University Health Network reassured the public its patients were being well cared for during Hurricane Sandy. Each hospital was fully staffed and supplied with food, water, linens and medical supplies for all patients and staff. St. Luke's Allentown Campus, Anderson Campus, Miners Campus, Quakertown Campus and Warren Campus operated with power fully intact. St. Luke's University Hospital- Bethlehem was powered by backup generators. On Oct. 30, each of the hospitals instituted an incident command situation to handle potential power outages and issues related to the weather.
Prior to the storm, extra food, water and supplies from vendors were delivered, staffing and planning for overnight stays were established and facilities were prepared for all possibilities.
Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest and 17th St. remained on commercial power during the storm and afterward. Backup power was ready to go in the event power was lost at those two locations. Staffing went well throughout the storm and into the middle of the week as things began to get back to normal.
The hospital made arrangements and did have more than 150 staff sleep at the three hospital sites overnight Monday and Tuesday to ensure adequate staffing in the event some could not make it in due to damage and road closings.