People who went days without power following last month's snowstorm have spoken.
Pa. Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks Co., on Wednesday released results of an online survey she conducted following the rare October storm that knocked out electricity to thousands of people along the East Coast, some for as long as a week or more.
"More than 250 residents responded to my request for information with detailed accounts of their storm and power-outage experiences," Schwank said. "I am grateful for their input and believe the responses will help improve how our utilities and the PUC [Pa. Public Utility Commission] respond during emergencies such as this."
The results of the survey provided an eye-opening perspective of the storm’s impact and the response of the utility companies, Schwank said.
The survey found that 80 percent of people who responded went without power for more than three days. The outages lasted more than five days for 65 percent.
More than 40 percent of the respondents cited poor communication and financial loss as their chief concerns. Other concerns included inadequate maintenance of power lines, frequent outages and service reliability.
Schwank sent a letter to the PUC detailing the results of her survey and requesting a specific action plan from the commission.
"The purpose of this effort is not to castigate or vilify utility employees; indeed, the linemen and women and other workers worked very hard under extraordinary conditions to restore power," said Schwank. "The goal here is to get the commission to consider the real faces and real life impacts of the storm and the response of utilities to it and take substantive action to ensure that they do better in the future."
Two areas that need to be improved are the method and manner utilities employ to communicate with customers during outages and the extent and quality of their preemptive maintenance and equipment repair and replacement programs, Schwank said.