York utilities prepare for perhaps nearly as much Ida rain, although far less wind, than Louisiana


YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Local utilities are preparing for a storm that could be nearly as wet, although far less windy, than Hurricane Ida. What does that add up to, in terms of the impact on residents?

The good news: Only that combination of water plus wind tends to lead to outages as widespread as those in Louisiana.

“When you have a lot of rain and heavy wind, and those trees are standing soupy in water, that can cause a lot of difficulties,” explained Todd Meyers, a spokesman for Met-Ed, which serves much of York County. In other words, the water makes the soil less firm, and the wind blows the trees down. The downed trees, in turn, can lead to downed power lines.

Still, weather such as what Pennsylvania is likely to experience Wednesday can lead to outages, and the same weather can then cause those outages to linger for a different reason.

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“If roads are impassable under floodwater, or if roads are damaged, it’s hard to get to the repairs,” Meyers said.

Any power outages can also lead to water woes because water pumps depend on electricity. In other words, the two utilities don’t operate as independently of one another as might seem to be the case. But JT Hand, CEO of The York Water Company, said the company’s investments in generators should mitigate the impact of any power outages.

Hand spoke to abc27 at the site of a water main replacement project, which — along with 11 others like it — is being “buttoned up” ahead of the storm to “avoid any possibility that we’re gonna have some damage coming in from the rain as well as protect the motoring public,” Hand said.

The county’s emergency services off prepared for the storm by contacting the liaisons from York municipalities as well as those from police, fire, and emergency medical services agencies.

The best advice for residents when the storm hits? If you can stay home, do that. And if you must leave the house and approach a flooded roadway while driving: “If it looks like it’s bad — if your gut’s telling you ‘that doesn’t look good’ — turn around, don’t drown,” Ted Czech, spokesman for the Department of Emergency Management said.

Haven’t we heard that before? As in, maybe too many times?

Well, Czech says apparently, we haven’t heard it enough. As recently as when the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred caused flooding here less than two weeks ago, “we had 24 water rescues,” Czech said. “I’m not saying all of those could have been avoided, but some probably could have.”

The city of York, meanwhile, warned residents to avoid 10 intersections that flood easily.

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