So last week the editors here at the Pocono Record sent me out to the West End to report on how it was affected by Hurricane Sandy. I came back to the newsroom with a decent amount of good information, but we had so many reporters covering Sandy and had so much “copy” that a lot of my stuff didn’t make it into the paper. So I thought I’d post what didn’t make it into the paper here, on the blog. After all, I saw seagulls in the parking lot of West End Plaza. Now when’s the last time you saw seagulls in the Brodheadsville? Think about it. Anyway, here is a sampling of things seen and heard in the West End on Oct. 30, 2012, a day after Hurricane Sandy hit.
•A key traffic light at the corner of Gilbert Road and Route 209 in Gilbert was out. According to an employee at the Turkey Hill near this traffic light, the light had been out for more than 24 hours. Many traffic lights around the county were out on Tuesday. Motorists mostly got along by acting as if there were a stop sign at the intersections where the traffic lights were out. However, some motorists weren’t behaving that nicely. At this traffic-light-less intersection in Gilbert. “Everyone’s acting like they have the right of way,” said Crystal, an employee at the Turkey Hill. Still, Crystal said she hadn’t seen any accidents. The Turkey Hill in Gilbert had no power on Tuesday afternoon; signs on its pumps read, “out of order.”
•Utility crews from other states actually were called in and were working. PPL Electric Utilities and other utility companies in the region always say just before a large storm hits that crews from other states are going to be on standby, to help, if need be. Well, on Tuesday, there was a need, and out-of-state crews were hard at work in our area. On Gilbert Road, many workers from Kentucky Utilities Company, or KU, which is owned by PPL, were doing power line repairs near Altemose Drive. One of the workers, who had slight Southern accent, said he liked Pennsylvania and had done work in this state for PPL before. He couldn’t comment any further.
•Many stores were without power. At the West End Plaza in Brodheadsville, many cars drove into the parking lot and then promptly drove out. That’s because all the stores in the strip mall were either closed or looked closed. Actually, the only store that even looked remotely open in the shopping center was Radio Shack. A note in Radio Shack’s window said the store was only accepting cash.
•Out of place wildlife were present. For the first time, this reporter saw seagulls in the Poconos. Two seagulls were walking around in the West End Plaza parking lot. The Poconos is about 100 miles from the ocean, so it’s by no means a big hang out for seagulls. Seagulls are said to come inland when big storms hit or are expected. The birds wait out the storms in fields and marshes and, well, in parking lots, apparently.
•Kinsley’s ShopRite became the place to be. Kinsley’s, which was operating on a generator, almost seemed like an oasis, considering that so many stores in the West End had lost power. The mega supermarket was operating on a huge generator and all its sections were open. Local folks really started swarming the place on Tuesday. A Dunkin’ Donuts nearby didn’t have any hot water in the morning and therefore didn’t have any coffee. This sent more bleary-eyed customers over to Kinsley’s in search of java. In addition, many local residents who had lost power on Monday and Tuesday headed over to the café at Kinsley’s and were hanging out there, using the cafe’s Wi-Fi and watching its TV. “This is really a refuge,” said Diana Diamond, of Gilbert, referring to the café at Kinsley’s. Diamond and her 13-year-old daughter came to the store after their power went out. “Yeah, it’s great, we can watch TV, go on the Internet. They have nice clean bathrooms. And if we’re hungry, we can always go downstairs to eat,” said Diamond as she sat on a circular couch with about six other folks who also came to the supermarket’s café because they had lost power.
•The storm prompted some funny exchanges between people. At the Turkey Hill in Gilbert, which did not have any electricity on Tuesday afternoon, one man walked in and said, “Why don’t you have any lights?” to which the manager behind the darkened counter replied, “Oh, we’re trying to save on electric.” The man then said, “I guess this is a good way to go green.”