Suburbs Continue to Struggle Without Power, Start Getting Testy

In search of electricity, Wi-fi and hot water, residents are flocking to restaurants, the mall and even the Shore.

Photo | Larry Mendte

Photo | Larry Mendte. See more of Larry’s photos here.

Frustration is growing in the suburbs. Facebook friends in Bucks, Montgomery and Chester Counties, in Trooper, Devon, Bryn Mawr, Horsham, Huntingdon Valley, Glenside, Bensalem, Exton, Oxford, Chester Springs, Newtown, Churchville and Concordville all report power still out. PECO puts the number at a quarter-million. The situation is causing some to hit the Jersey Shore, some to get reacquainted with family and still others to turn on their neighbors.

“No water, power or heat over here in Concord,” Erin O’Neill reports from Delaware County. “I am able to stay at my fiance’s home, however, the rest of the family is old-schooling it and staying at home.” Erin keeps checking on her disabled mother who is stuck at home and has been told she will be without power until Sunday.

Kathy Bernard-Giosso and her husband from Bensalem are staying with her sister’s family in Northeast Philadelphia. “She has power, but it’s spotty, many in the neighborhood do not.” When Kathy called PECO, she got the same answer everyone else is getting, “Sunday night.” “It’s frustrating,” she said, “I’m just thankful I have family to stay with.”

Lisa Elias’s home is still without power, but she got out of town before she had to spend a night in the cold. “I’m in Ocean City, New Jersey. An early vacation,” Lisa told me on Facebook. Many people who have shore homes took advantage of the electricity near the beach. “My cousins still have no power in Dresher,” Steven Sigal told me, “Luckily they have a place in Margate.”

Tara Logan Elinski is spending her day at the food court in Exton Mall. “It still has power,” she wrote. “My home in Exton is out.” Tara, her husband and their four children have been staying at her parents’ home in Hershey Mills.

Dennis McCullough of Huntington Valley is without power, but staying home and doing just fine, thank you. “It’s not that horrible if you plan ahead,” he wrote. “Wood stove, oil lamps and a generator for the refrigerator.” I asked Dennis if he had to stay home to mind all of the contingency plans. “No sir,” he answered, “life goes on. I stoke the fire and go to work.”

After a barrage of Nor’easters, snowstorms and Hurricane Sandy, it appears many people were prepared for Icemageddon. “We bought and installed a Generac whole-house generator last year after Sandy,” Mairead Timoney-Wink wrote. Mairead lives on the Abington side of Glenside. She wrote to me from her parents’ home, three blocks away, because Comcast is out and they don’t have cable, phone or Internet.

Michelle Mandes Geer lives on the Haverford Township side of Bryn Mawr in Delaware County. “It is frustrating seeing my neighbors across the street who have had power all day,” Michelle wrote. “I am in the only block in the area without power. Makes no sense.”

As my wife and I were waiting for a seat at the Trolley Car Diner in Mount Airy, one of the patrons commented that “power envy” forced him to drive around to survey the grid.  “I want to know how PECO chooses which neighborhoods to service first.”  He said he was told that his home in Springfield, Montgomery County, may be without power for days.

Restaurants and coffee houses with power, like the Trolley Car or the Village Diner in Glenside, have been reporting record business over the past few days. “We have had a line every day,” according to my waitress at the Trolley Car. “A lot of them are from the suburbs. They are searching for power.” The waitress told us that she was working her second double-shift in two days. The difficult part is getting people to leave after they eat,” she added

At the Village Diner they were desperately looking for kitchen help. The only thing tougher to get than help is a place to charge your smart phone. There was a long line to get in to the tiny diner and then a longer line for any available electrical outlet. And try getting a seat at any area Starbucks and or Dunkin Donuts. Free Wi-fi and hot coffee are attracting those without power to claim a table and stay until closing.

If you live in the Ambler area and your hair is getting a little nasty from the lack of a hot shower, Salon Esperanza in the Broad Axe Shopping Center is offering a free shampoo complete with hot water. “Oh, and we have hot coffee and some good laughs,” promised Sharon O’Donnell, the owner. She also points out that they have Wi-fi and plenty of outlets.

Do you have a message for PECO? Post it in the comments section.

Follow @LarryMendte on Twitter.