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UPDATE: Gov. Corbett: Federal Resources Available to Pennsylvania After Superstorm Sandy

Two mega-shelters will open Tuesday afternoon to house evacuees from New Jersey, along with Pennsylvanians who need a place to stay, Corbett said.

UPDATE: Gov. Tom Corbett stepped to the microphone for Tuesday’s midday storm update after spending a half hour on the phone with President Barack Obama, who held a conference call with a number of governors whose states are affected by the storm.

Giving few details of the call, Corbett said the president understands that Pennsylvania still is dealing with Superstorm Sandy and is making the federal government’s resources available to the commonwealth.

Obama signed an emergency declaration for Pennsylvania early Monday that allows state officials to request federal funding and other storm assistance.

Corbett said it is too early to tell what funds Pennsylvania might qualify for; damage assessment numbers will not be available until next week.

The governor updated the death count from the storm to three—one was killed in a traffic accident in Somerset County and two were killed by falling trees in Susquehanna and Berks counties.

Two mega-shelters will open this afternoon to house evacuees from New Jersey, along with Pennsylvanians who need a place to stay, he said.

They will be located at West Chester University  and East Stroudsburg University.

At New Jersey’s request, Pennsylvania also is sending 35 ambulances and a mass-injury bus to that state, Corbett said.

More than 900 people are in Pennsylvania shelters now, he said. Of the 57 shelters that are open, 48 are run by the Red Cross, he said.

Eight hospitals are operating on generators, according to the governor, and more than 400 roads are closed in the state because of downed trees and power lines.

Corbett said that, in addition to Obama, presidential candidate Mitt Romney also called him to ask about what was going on and to wish his best to the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Earlier story:

As Pennsylvania cleans up from the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, Gov. Tom Corbett said 1.3 million customers are without power Tuesday morning, mostly in the southeastern part of the commonwealth.

Although the storm was not as bad as it could have been for Pennsylvania, Corbett said neighboring New Jersey and New York were hit hard and he will reach out this morning to the governors of those states to offer resources such as medical personnel and shelter help.

"If we have resources available, we will make it available" to those hard-hit states, Corbett said.

At a 9 a.m. briefing about the storm that has been downgraded to cyclone status, Corbett noted that thousands have been mobilized to deal with the aftermath including 2,500 out-of-state utility crews; 1,700 from the National Guard and 25 FEMA representatives.

He said two deaths from falling trees have been reported in Susquehanna and Berks counties. 

About 600 people are in 48 shelters this morning, he added.

Besides wind and rain, the storm also brought snow—6 to 9 inches in the Laurel Highlands and a few inches in Somerset County, Corbett said. 

He said wind and rains still are affecting the central and western parts of the state and major tributaries are being monitored closely for the flooding possibilities.

The commonwealth's priority is the restoration of power to 1.3 million customers, but that will take time, the govenor said.

"I’ll remind the people to be patient," Corbett said.

He said those without electricity should call their electric company to report the outage, but to call only once.

Corbett also said the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has four warehouses of food available, in case mass feedings are needed.

Travelers who need information about roads should call 511 or click on www.511.pa.com, the governor said.

Speed limit reductions on interstate highways in the state as well as truck and motorcycle restrictions have been lifted, Corbett said.

"I’m still urging people to be careful and stay off the roads if possible.”

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