FEMA focuses on power restoration in storm-ravaged region

    The Philadelphia office of Federal Emergency Management Agency is a hive of activity post-Sandy. The regional office assists state and municipal relief and recovery efforts in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

    Notice that New Jersey is not on that list. The significant storm damage on the Jersey Shore falls under the responsibility of a different office, Region II.

    In Region III, FEMA workers are  conducting some search-and-rescue operations in Maryland, and clearing debris that’s blocking relief efforts. But the main concern right now is power. As of Tuesday afternoon, 1.2 million people in Pennsylvania were without electricity.

    “Currently we have a number of generators moving in and around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania per the Commonwealth’s request,” said John McGowan, director of response operations at FEMA. “Until the electrical companies can get that power back on permanently, we’ll be putting generators in critical areas such as hospitals, nursing homes, 911 center, any centers that are considered to be critical.”

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    Before Sandy landed, President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Region III. A subsequent expansion of the declaration is forthcoming, which will release more federal money to FEMA.

    U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says he will ask the President to include debris removal in that declaration.

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