State of emergency declared in Pa.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in Pennsylvania.

The announcement came as thousands remained without power following two bouts of severe winter weather. The most recent storm occurred Tuesday night through Wednesday and left branches and wires heavy with ice, causing accidents and electrical outages.

Corbett made the announcement shortly after 9 p.m. during a news conference. “The state emergency declaration decision allows us to tap into our emergency state funds and to assist with costs related to the availability of the Guard, to opening shelters and to providing generators where needed,” he said. “The decision also positions us to access direct federal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

Corbett said the number of Pennsylvanians without power had fallen to about 586,000, down from about 849,000 Wednesday afternoon. He asked residents to remain patient, as it may take crews “several days” to restore power to some areas.

Accompanying the declaration was the activation of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Corbett said more than 500 soldiers were ready to respond, with nearly 300 of them listed on active duty throughout the state. 

A state-supported shelter capable of housing 1,300 people was opened Wednesday at West Chester University’s Sturzebecker Health Science Center, located at 855 S. New St. Sixteen other shelters and numerous warming centers also remained open statewide.