Closed roads, airline delays, power outages, cancellations hit business

October 30. 2012 12:00PM - Last modified: October 30. 2012 12:14PM

Jason ScottJim T. Ryan

Business travel and commerce will be slow today and have lasting impacts to come due to power outages, road closures, business cancellations and flight delays throughout Pennsylvania and much of the Northeast from Hurricane Sandy.

Some Central Pennsylvania business managers have said that many clients and customers are out of power and remain closed, with other businesses closing as a precaution.

BAE Systems, the London-based defense contractor, decided Monday to close its York County facility for today, spokesman Randy Coble said. How large an impact the storm had is yet to be determined, he said.

"Short term, this won't have an overall impact – we'll make up the lost time with (overtime)," Coble said. "A longer term thing – shut down for several days – would require an evaluation of demand to determine any impacts on delivery schedules."

Hurricane Sandy likely cost York-based Bailey Coach Inc.'s motor coach division about $12,000 to $15,000 in revenue between Sunday and today, President John Bailey said.

"We'll never get it back," he said, citing roughly 30 cancellations that included group trips to New York City.

And with all of the airports shut down, corporate travelers have had to rebook their plans, he said. Bailey said he expects airport travel services will resume tomorrow and bus trips could start up again Thursday.

"Fortunately, we have a lot of agents who have been able to work from home and get people rebooked," Bailey said.

Nearly 44,000 businesses and homes were without power throughout Central Pennsylvania this morning, including about 9,300 in Lebanon County and 10,100 customers in York County with subsidiaries of Reading-based FirstEnergy Corp. Here's a breakdown by utility for Central Pennsylvania:

• FirstEnergy – 24,940

PPL Electric Utilities Corp.– 13,420

Adams Electric Cooperative Inc. – 5,300 (includes customers in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties).

Mechanical services contractors like Secco Inc. in Lower Allen Township have been busy fielding electrical and plumbing calls, President Barry Kindt said.

The bulk of the service calls are coming from the Mechanicsburg and Camp Hill areas, he said, citing electrical cables being torn off homes, water coming into electrical panels and dripping onto basement floors and sump pump calls.

"We expect more today and tomorrow after the creeks crest and pending more rain," Kindt said.

The firm also received calls about roofing and siding repairs because of the high winds.

On the commercial side, Secco has fielded calls about large rooftop mechanical equipment. Much of that work was postponed until the inclement weather cleared out, he said.

Harrisburg-based H.B. McClure Co. said it is running at about 60 percent service capacity. Fuel deliveries of propane and fuel oil are running emergency deliveries only for the rest of today.

"We will be back to full capacity tomorrow," said Jeri Donadee, vice president of business development. "Construction departments for residential and commercial work are off until Wednesday. We are focusing on emergency plumbing and heating calls."

Many of the service calls have been about failed sump pumps and routine heating trouble calls, he said.

"It seems we escaped the most severe weather," Donadee said.

As roads reopen and power is restored to those who lost it, he said he expects the service call volume will go up.

PennDOT said this morning that about 160 roads were closed in southcentral Pennsylvania largely due to downed trees and power lines as well as roadway flooding. York and Lancaster counties were the hardest hit. The state did lift vehicle and speed restrictions on highways this morning.

Here's a breakdown of closures by county:

• Cumberland County – 5

• Dauphin County – 13

• Lancaster County – 40

• Lebanon County – 15

• York County – 58

PennDOT updates can be found at www.511pa.com.

Harrisburg International Airport said this morning that some airlines had resumed flights, but travelers should check with individual airlines for schedules, delays and cancellations. Flights to cities in the Midwest and South were expected to return faster than those to the Northeast, spokesman Scott Miller said.

Editor's Note: This item was modified from its previous version to include comments from Secco Inc. and H.B. McClure Co.


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