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Article published October 31, 2012
County weathers Superstorm Sandy
Kelly B. Garrett Butler Eagle Staff
Tuesday morning found Butler County soggy but intact as the former hurricane now called Superstorm Sandy continued to sweep across the region. The 1,000-mile-wide storm made landfall early Monday evening in New Jersey, causing major damage along the East Coast and in New York City with 16 storm-reported deaths as of Tuesday morning. What was left of the eye of the hurricane was expected to move over State College by noon Tuesday and continue on a northern path, according to the National Weather Service. Zelienople Borough readied itself for the storm throughout the day Monday, wishing for the best, but preparing for the worst. The borough was last hit with flooding, especially at its now former water plant, from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan back in 2004. Mayor Tom Oliverio said he had letters ready to go out to residents if a State of Emergency had to be declared. “Hopefully, we’ll be OK for the next three days. But, you have to be prepared,” he said. Borough manager Don Pepe said the borough activated its emergency management office and dumped sand in two locations in the borough, behind the fire hall in case waters from Glade Run rise and at Market Street near Hazel Street for potential rising waters of the Connoquenessing Creek. “We’ll be monitoring the 911 Center and all of the borough staff is on call,” said Pepe. “We’re concerned about the high winds and potential electrical problems.” The borough operates its own electric system. “Everything’s ready heading into (Monday night). We’ll have to see what happens,” he said. Butler County government and court offices opened at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday as usual, while adjoining Allegheny and Beaver counties closed all or some of their offices for the day. But county officials did not take the storm lightly, spending much of the weekend and Monday discussing emergency plans and resource distribution. Steve Bicehouse, director of county Emergency Services, said Tuesday morning that the storm brought only the typical service calls for basement flooding and roads blocked by wires or tree limbs. “It looks like we dodged a bullet,” Bicehouse said. However, one road — Yellow Creek Road/Little Creek Road in Lancaster Township — was closed in both directions Tuesday morning because of a downed tree and utility lines, according to an e-mail from the state Department of Transportation. The road was to reopen by 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to PennDOT. Bicehouse said the county was prepared in case weather conditions worsened, but officials ultimately didn’t need to do anything beyond providing the normal service. “We are only forecast for 3 to 3.5 inches of rain in the county, but we are keeping an eye on all streams and creeks, especially the Connoquenessing Creek, which can cause serious problems,” Bicehouse said. School districts in the county either closed or worked on a delayed schedule Tuesday with Mars, Seneca Valley, South Butler and Moniteau districts closed, and Butler, Slippery Rock, Freeport and Karns City districts all on a two-hour delay. The Butler County Vocational-Technical School also was on a two-hour delay as was Butler Catholic School. Holy Sepulcher School was closed Tuesday. Eagle staff writers Bob Schultz, Tom Victoria and Sandy Pontius contributed to this report.