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Mid-Atlantic Blackout: Half Million Still in Dark

09-07-2014
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Nearly half a million residents in Pennsylvania and Maryland are still without power after a major snow and ice storm hit the mid-Atlantic this week. It could be several days before some have heat and lights.

Evelyn Ovens, 90, had been sitting in the cold in her Pennsylvania home with her dog, Sporty, for nine hours before help arrived.

"It was getting colder and colder by the minute," Ovens recalled.

Without a phone and heat, Ovens had an idea: she put a "Mayday" sign on her door.

"I got a big piece of cardboard, and I wrote on there, 'Help me,' and I put it out on the porch on my storm door," she said.

Meanwhile, her nephew, Paul Bailey, was becoming concerned as it had been several hours since he was able to get in touch with his elderly aunt.

Bailey recalled thinking, "something ain't right," before calling the police.

The chief of police was unsure of Ovens' exact address, so for almost four hours he drove around downed trees and traveled on closed roads until her sign caught his eye.

"So you know somebody's there to help you, and that's a good feeling," she said.

Meanwhile, utility crews from as far away as Canada and Arkansas continued working to restore power in the mid-Atlantic, after trees and limbs proved no match for the ice.

The Philadelphia area has most of the outages, with nearly 300,000 customers without power. Many residents managed to wait it out in a hotel.

On Thursday night, the Gibbs family huddled by the fireplace in their Villanova, Pa., home.

"It was really, really tough. My husband was brilliant. He grabbed a mattress and brought it down to the front of the fireplace with one kid on either couch," Michelle Gibbs said.

Nearly 200 people spent the night in Red Cross shelters in Chester County, Pa. Crews hope to have power restored for many people by the end of the day.

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