Pennsylvanians in the central and eastern part of the state are bracing for days-long power outages as they keep an eye on Hurricane Sandy.
Swiftwater rescue teams have been ordered in from southwestern Pennsylvania to bide their time in Harrisburg in case they’re needed.
About 1,600 National Guardsmen are on active duty and awaiting orders, and state police are working 12-hour shifts.
Pennsylvania Utility Commission chairman Robert Powelson says utility companies are expecting to see a lot of trees and power lines downed during the storm.
“Are we overhyping this? Absolutely not,” said Powelson. “This event is going to have a profound impact on our utility footprints.”
Glenn Cannon says the outages are expected because of strong, steady winds that come as the ground is taking in more and more water.
“High impact winds, probably 40 to 60 mile an hour, and then occasional hurricane-force winds on top of that,” said Cannon. “And so, and then once the ground is saturated, 40 mile-an-hour winds will bring the trees down.”
Gov. Tom Corbett says even Election Day is a concern right now, as officials ponder the possibility the power grid might not be fully restored by next Tuesday.
He’s advising people voting by absentee to mail in their ballots, as state courts are closed.
Pennsylvania has opened 58 evacuation centers, which have a total capacity of 31,000 people.
The head of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency says residents of central and southeastern Pennsylvania should anticipate power outages that last days, not hours.