Roughing it - or not - in a hard-hit Chesco township

Posted: February 11, 2014

TREDYFFRIN While most of their neighbors sought shelter at area hotels in the aftermath of last week's winter storm, the Parker family hunkered down here in their Chester County home in a municipality that on Sunday still had some of the highest numbers of power outages in the region.

On their fifth consecutive day without the convenience of electricity on Knox Road, Kate Parker was making Spaghetti Os on their gas stove to feed her 14-year-old son, Tom, and his friend Fin Monahan.

"It's been a lot of soup and SpaghettiOs," Madeline Parker, 20, said as the family hung around the kitchen, made bearable by the living room fireplace nearby.

Rich and Kate Parker said it would have been hard to find a hotel with their two dogs. Plus, they had gone through a similar prolonged power outage – during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – and survived. So, why not do it again?

"It's been an adventure," Kate Parker said, still able to laugh despite the days of rough living conditions.

So, too, for a total of 1,629 Peco customers among the Tredyffrin powerless as of 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Parkers borrowed a generator to heat their water. And since most of their neighbors left town, Rich Parker, a real estate attorney in Wayne, took on the job of community watchdog. To avoid an accident at a nearby intersection that had a large tree down, Parker found a barricade and strategically placed it so cars would be diverted to other roads.

"Our complete township has been a no-show," he complained, citing what seemed to him an absence of police cars and public works employees since the storm. "Everybody split."

While Tom Parker and his friend downed SpaghettiOs, a promising sign appeared out front: Brian Kent, a utility worker from Rochester, N.Y., dropped off a new utility pole. Other utility workers were expected to come by later to install it and new power lines.

Just down the road from the Parkers, the Monahans were making use of nature by keeping perishable items in the snow. Ice cream cartons and gallons of iced tea were neatly placed in their back yard, along with a large cooler.

The Monahans weren't as adventurous as the Parkers, though.

With the first sign of power outages in the region Wednesday morning, the family booked two rooms at the Inn at the Union League in Center City. Todd Monahan could be close to his office at Jones Lang LaSalle and his two teenage sons to St. Joseph's Preparatory School.

But after a few days of canceled classes - and the prim and proper behavior required at the Union League - Monahan's sons couldn't wait to get home, even if it meant eating canned pasta for lunch Sunday with the Parkers.

Todd Monahan took stock of the damage in his otherwise picturesque neighborhood of large homes and expansive snow-covered lawns.

"All the evergreens that are down," he said. "It looks like a war zone."

One that got appreciably better Sunday afternoon: Power was back on Knox Road.

cvargas@phillynews.com

856-779-3917

@InqCVargas

www.inquirer.com/camdenflow

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