In the days before Hurricane Sandy, PECO, PPL and other electric companies warned that it could take days to restore power outages in the wake of the storm.
On Tuesday, it became clear to those in Central Bucks County that the companies weren't joking.
"Restoration of power to all customers will require multiple days. We ask our customers to plan accordingly," PECO, the largest electric utility in Bucks, said Tuesday.
PPL, which supplies towns in northwest Bucks County, also said outages could last for days, and "possibly up to a week."
Local officials were sending the same message.
"I don't expect to see power back on for a day or two, at least," Doylestown Borough manager John Davis said.
As of Tuesday evening, 198,210 electric customers in Bucks County still were without power. A "customer" is just that, and could indicate one person, or a family of four, or an apartment complex. So the number of people actually affected is undoubtedly higher than the number of customers affected.
In the case of PECO, crews worked through Sandy's beginnings and managed to restore power to more than 243,000 customers since the storm began on Monday, PECO said. But workers had to be pulled back when the storm intensified, and by 6 a.m. Tuesday, 585,000 PECO customers were without power.
When that power will be restored is anyone's guess, at this point.
"PECO can’t give us any information. It could be several days, it could be two weeks, it could be one day," Doylestown Township supervisor Barb Lyons said Tuesday. "There are multiple lines down all over."
Bucks County was hardest hit, according to figures from PECO that detail the breakdown of its customers without power:
- Bucks County: 195,000
- Chester County: 58,000
- Delaware County: 85,000
- Montgomery County: 177,000
- Philadelphia County: 55,000
By Tuesday evening, about 170,000 PECO customers were still without power in Bucks.
PPL said 22,221 of its customers are without power from Hilltown up through Quakertown. And FirstEnergy (Met Ed), which serves northeast Bucks County, reports 5,989 customers out in Tinicum, Nockamixon, Bridgeton and Durham townships.
The sheer amount of damage to the electrical system is slowing efforts to restore power, officials said.
Trees are down on electric wires all across Bucks County. And during the height of Hurricane Sandy, the eerie green lights caused by transformers exploding could be seen in the stormy sky.
PPL explained to customers on its Facebook page how it tackles mass outages:
"First priority is unsafe situations, such as downed wires, and restoring critical public facilities like hospitals. We then focus on major power lines and substations. Where we can, we use switches to reroute power to as many customers as possible."
PECO has 3,000 employees and contractors working to restore power, and another 300 additional linemen are expected on Wednesday, the company said. PPL and Met Ed also brought in extra help and lined up additional contractors.
Loughery said PECO is aiming to have 85 percent to 90 percent of its customers restored by Friday.
"We understand the frustrations of those without power," said Bucks County Commissioner Robert Loughery, adding that he and commissioners Charley Martin and Diane Ellis-Marseglia also have been without power. "PECO is working as diligently as possible to rectify the situation as quickly as they can."