Thousands of utility crews are pouring into the region ahead of Hurricane Sandy, and they are bracing for major power outages that could last much of the week.
"We were just down in New Orleans on Isaac," said John Gill, a lineman from Mississippi. "We stayed down there for six weeks."
Allentown-based PPL said crews have come in from as far as Michigan.
"We have about 15 hundred additional personnel to work with," said PPL spokesman Michael Wood.
According to Wood, since Hurricane Sandy is an unusually large storm with high winds expected until Wednesday morning, it could be awhile before crews can even start safely working on outages.
"The size of the storm, from side to side, is just going to cover our entire service territory, so it's slow moving, it will have effects over a long period of time," he said.
Last year, Wood said PPL spent more than $80 million dollars on storms -- including Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and the Halloween snowstorm. The utility was criticized for constant busy signals when customers called to report outages. Wood said a major overhaul of the phone system now means it can handle 75 thousand calls at a time.
"Anyone who loses power, we want to hear from you," he said. "Even if you've had trouble in the past, or you haven't bothered to call in the past, we want to hear from you."
There are a couple of ways to report a downed power line or an outage. You can call your utility provider directly, or you can use your smartphone. P PL and many other power companies now have apps where you can report an outage. You can also
To eport an outage:
First Energy (MetEd/Jersey Power & Light): 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877)
or Met-Ed's website