Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today provided an update on the state’s continued response to cleanup efforts in Northeast Pennsylvania following Tuesday’s snow storm. Specifically, the governor announced that Pennsylvania Game Commission resources will be utilized to help assist the City of Wilkes-Barre with snow removal.
“The aftermath of Winter Storm Stella has left many communities in the northeast stretched so thin, they simply aren’t able to dig out on their own,” said Governor Wolf. “We are working closely with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to meet the needs of these municipalities as quickly as possible, and in some cases, that means reallocating our resources and heavy equipment from state agencies like the Game Commission.”
The Game Commission is providing ten-ton dump trucks, backhoes and snow plows – run by Game Commission operators – to the City of Wilkes-Barre, which had filed a request with PEMA for assistance with snow removal.
Governor Wolf has allocated additional PennDOT resources, including loaders and dump trucks, to the City of Hazleton to help with snow removal there. PennDOT has also directed salt suppliers, through its contract through the Department of General Services, to replenish the salt supplies of municipalities’ in the heaviest-impacted areas prior to supplying salt to the department, should salt be requested.
“Helping to keep the public safe is our top priority and we’ve been working around the clock on that mission through this storm,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We’re happy to assist our local partners when we’re able to share our resources.”
Over the course of the last three days, PEMA personnel coordinated state resources to municipalities that requested snow removal assistance in both Luzerne and Wyoming counties. PEMA staff also provided guidance to counties for ways to seek support from local volunteer organizations for needs such as meal and medication delivery and shoveling private properties for those unable to do so.
“Recovering from a significant event like this is truly a team effort,” said PEMA Director Richard D. Flinn Jr. “We will continue to work with impacted counties to ensure that whatever assistance the state can provide is offered in those areas.”
Additionally, the Pennsylvania National Guard was tasked with missions in Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Monroe, Northampton, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, and Wayne counties to support law enforcement operations, emergency management, and 9-1-1 staff transport, as well transport of medical personnel to vital healthcare facilities. During the height of the storm, the Pennsylvania National Guard, Pennsylvania State Police, PennDOT,and the Department of Health also coordinated an emergency 80-mile transport of a 23-month old child in need of urgent medical care from Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
Before the storm, Governor Wolf made a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, which allows for the commonwealth to get resources to communities as quickly as possible when requested. Governor Wolf and PennDOT directed Three Mobile Equipment Teams to the northeast, in addition to the resources that were currently deployed there. Each team consisted of five plow trucks, 10 equipment operators, and one supervisor. Teams were dispatched from PennDOT’s northwestern Pennsylvania district to the Scranton area, from the Pittsburgh-area district to Monroe County near Stroudsburg, and from southwestern Pennsylvania to the Lehigh Valley area.
PEMA continues working diligently to process municipality resource requests by working with the counties. In addition, six PEMA staff were deployed as liaison officers to work in county emergency management offices where requested: Bucks, Carbon, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster and Union counties.
It will take several days for storm costs to be reviewed and submitted to PEMA. PEMA encourages municipal governments to track damages and costs and report them to their respective county emergency management agency.
Motorists can continue to check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles by visiting http://www.511PA.com. PennDOT’s Automated Vehicle Locator plow tracking tool is available for all of the more than 2,200 PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks, with vehicle locations viewable on 511PA.