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Weather challenges Somerset County first responders on New Year’s

January 2, 2019

Windy weather wreaked havoc on roads in Somerset County Monday night as the ball dropped on 2018. Reports of downed power lines and trees blocking roadways challenged emergency responders from midnight until mid-afternoon on New Year’s Day.

“With the increased weather related incidents, and the holiday, it was a busy period,” said Joel Landis, Somerset County Emergency Management Agency director.

Landis reported that 15 trees were down on roads and highways on the first day of 2019. He said there were two car accidents. State police couldn’t give any tally on the number of driving under the influence arrests that happened on one of the busiest drinking days of the year. A dispatcher from Somerset County Control said that the northern part of the county, along with Confluence, were particularly hit hard.

Confluence fire Chief Tyler Byrd couldn’t give too many details as to what happened, but he relayed what he had heard from his fellow firefighters.

“Confluence had one confirmed tree down and a little bit later we had trees and wires down,” he said. “We lost power for a few hours last night. It came on back pretty fast.”

About 1,100 outages were reported to Penelec from Somerset, Windber and Confluence shortly after midnight. They were all restored by mid-morning, according to Tricia Ingraham, Penelec spokeswoman. More than 370 homes were without electricity in Hooversville, where it was restored by 6 a.m.

Anson Bloom, Windber deputy fire chief, said his department had been working from 2 a.m. on Tuesday until eight hours later to deal with the wind’s aftermath.

“We ran a total of five weather-related incidents today. Mostly they were all trees down,” he said. “We had one tree on a power line, one tree on a structure. Pretty much it, trees and wires.”

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