More than 280,000 Peco customers remain without power this afternoon, two days after a storm slammed the Philadelphia region.
Fallen trees and branches knocked down power lines and disrupted traffic during the Wednesday storm, particularly in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery Counties. Peco has warned that fully restoring electricity would take multiple days.
As of about 1:40 p.m. today, 283,305 Peco customers continued to lack power. Chester was the hardest-hit county, with more than 94,000 homes and businesses without power. That was followed by more than 88,000 outages in Montgomery, 65,000 outages in Bucks, 25,000 in Delaware County, and 5,000 in Philadelphia.
In total, 715,000 Peco customers lost power during the storm, the utility's worst-ever winter outage incident and second only to Superstorm Sandy for the most outages during any one event.
Peco says it hopes to have heat and electricity running for most customers by the end of the day today. Some places, though, may not see their power return until Sunday.
Utility employees from out of state were expected to arrive in the region today to join the 3,000-plus Peco personnel working to restore power.
President Obama has signed a disaster declaration for the area, making the region eligible for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The storm caused major disruptions for motorists and public transit. SEPTA's Paoli-Thorndale Regional Rail line, which had suspended service since Wednesday morning, began running again just this morning.
With chilly temperatures -- the temperature remained in the 20s for most of the day Thursday -- dozens of powerless suburban residents sought refuge at Red Cross shelters.
Officials were warning those lacking power to exercise caution when using alternative heat sources inside. Residents were urged to avoid using grills or generators for heat indoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Area emergency officials responded to at least one incident of people sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning on Thursday.
Wednesday's storm consisted mostly of freezing rain, sleet, ice and plain rain. Another round of snow is likely to make its way to the region over the weekend. Philadelphia-area residents shouldn't brace for a major storm, though, as just a coating of snow to an inch or two of accumulation is expected, forecasters say.