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When Superstorm Sandy barreled up the East Coast, it wrecked property, killed dozens and left millions without power. While the massive hurricane spared much of northeastern Pennsylvania the most severe damage, power outages remained a huge problem.
Close to 100,000 were left without power during the height of the storm, according to numbers provided by the power companies across the region.
“Five days and we just kind of opened and sold cigarettes,” said Joe Hughes, owner of the Dalton Country Store who talked about how long his businesses was without power.
“It’s very unusual,” he said, adding that this was the first time in the history of his business they had lost power for this long. Normally, he said it’s just one day at the most. He said they were ‘not prepared.’ “We had a pretty good sized loss. Frozen food, dairy, meats — all that kind of stuff was gone.”
Hughes said the loss was in the thousands, but said he doesn’t think adding a generator system would be beneficial.
“I really don’t know because if you put in a generator system it would be very expensive to hardwire. It’s not just like plugging in your refrigerator at home. It’s very costly.” But cost depends on how much your business requires ‘necessary’ power.
“Most businesses need a liquid-cooled generator but it all depends on the type of business it is, what the electrical load is and the type of electricity the business has,” said Ben Rinker, an electrical contractor in Lake Ariel who installs generators in homes and businesses.
Rinker said a generator system can cost anywhere between $7,000 to $8,500.
He said many businesses can use a residential system because of their need. Once they upgrade to a commercial system, the price jumps; those systems can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $50,000.
Does it pay for itself?
“It depends what your losses could potentially be and it depends on your insurance and your peace of mind,” said Rinker. “If they have a grocery store, absolutely but if they have an office, people are going to call off because of the storm anyway and they won’t lose much.”
Rinker said he’s had a number of people call after Superstorm Sandy to set up generator systems in homes.
“There are people out there looking for them,” he said. Rinker has been in business for 25 years.
In Pike County, Sean Strub, owner of the Hotel Fauchere, Milford said they closed for a short period of time and weathered the best of the storm. For him and his staff and guests, it was much of a waiting game.
“We appreciated all the warning about the storm and were able to get refrigeration hooked up to a portable generator, so we didn’t have much loss. We closed for two nights, but then got power back and reopened on Wednesday,” he said.
“I live right in back of the hotel and I have a generator at my house. So I became power- central — phone-charging, showering and laundry central — for friends and neighbors, which was actually kind of cool. You really get to know your neighbors a lot better after they’ve showered in your house!”
Strub said after the storm was over, several customers came from the New York and New Jersey areas because they themselves were without power.
“People would come in and start sharing their storm stories and power problems with total strangers at the bar and quickly bonded,” he said.