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Tempers rise as power outages continue in cold Philadelphia

With snow flurries and subfreezing temperatures in the weekend forecast, about 150,000 homes and businesses in the Philadelphia region on Saturday were still waiting for power to be restored.

On Twitter, residents griped about downed power lines that were still sparking outside their homes days after they fell. People spoke of having to bundle up in layers and layers and drive to charging stations to keep their cellphones working. Some expressed frustration that some areas had power restored before their own.

More than 5,700 workers from across the eastern U.S. and Canada were working to restore electricity to people, some who have been without it for five days, according to PECO, the main utility company in the area.

“PECO claims 5K crews are working on the power outages but they sure aren't in my neighborhood. out since Mon. #PECOsucks #wheresmypower,” @lrupp said on the social network.

PECO was making progress as the day went by, restoring power to 12,000 customers during a four-hour span Saturday morning. Some consumers gave thanks to crews that have been at work since Tuesday to restore power.

"When [people] complain [about] PECO, I really wanna punch them.. I can make sure your power never comes back on," @mgriest_ said Saturday on Twitter.

The outage has left thousands of Pennsylvanians unable to watch the Winter Olympics and their Philadelphia Flyers hockey team, who were hosting the Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon. Full restoration wasn't expected until Monday, the company told reporters.

At one point this week, more than 40% of PECO’s customers were affected by a power outage. By midday Saturday, the figure was down to about 8%.

The outage is the result two snowstorms this week in the Northeast that ripped off tree branches, weighed down power lines with ice and split the wires in thousands of places.

A Philadelphia Red Cross spokesman said Saturday in a statement that nearly 100 people and a dozen pets stayed at the organization’s two shelters Friday night. That represented a drop from the several hundred people needing shelter earlier this week. One of locations was set to close Saturday.

Other utilities in the region also still had customers lacking service. PPL and Met-Ed both reported a few hundred customers without power. As many as 2,000 PSE&G customers, or about 2% of those initially affected, in southern New Jersey lacked power.

Sign behind me. #flyers #peco #nopower. pic.twitter.com/GXybmWY065

— Kell :) (@_kellMano) February 8, 2014

In eastern Arkansas, 600 customers, or about 1%, of the more than 48,000 who lost power Sunday remained without it a week later.

Snow and sleet is possible in the region through Tuesday, leaving utility officials on alert.

"We are closely watching the forecast for next Monday/Tuesday. More precipitation on the way. #readytogoagain," Entergy Arkansas posted online.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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