With service restored to nearly 490,000 homes and businesses since Isabel barreled through central and eastern Pennsylvania, PPL Electric Utilities, Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S., expected to have the largest recovery effort in its history essentially completed Tuesday night (9/23).

PPL Electric Utilities put together a workforce of more than 2,500 people to rebuild power lines, replace poles and repair damaged equipment from Isabel, as well as provide customer service and essential support needs.

"Being without electric service is an inconvenience, and it can be frustrating for people," said John F. Sipics, president of PPL Electric Utilities. "We appreciate the patience that our customers showed and the encouragement they gave to the people whose hard work put the lights back on across central and eastern Pennsylvania."

Recovery work was complicated early Tuesday by a period of heavy rain and thunderstorms that crossed the service area causing additional outages. New outage reports received during the day may result in a small number of customers having their service restored on Wednesday.

In the days ahead, PPL Electric Utilities will be doing cleanup work and going back to make permanent repairs in areas where crews made temporary repairs to get customers back in service sooner.

Isabel affected the entire 29-county area served by PPL Electric Utilities and brought hurricane-force winds to the Lancaster and Harrisburg areas. The damage led to 4,000 repair jobs, more than any other storm in PPL history.

PPL Electric Utilities responded to Isabel with a force of more than 500 line crews -- using its own personnel supplemented by crews from other utilities and contractors. In addition, hundreds of PPL employees answered customer calls, made calls to customers providing information and offering assistance, assessed damage and provided other technical, logistical and administrative support.

"PPL people have been working around the clock since last Thursday (9/18) for our customers and communities," Sipics said. "Our dedicated employees made personal sacrifices, leaving their own homes and families for shifts of up to 16 hours to respond to this unprecedented challenge."

Despite the difficult, tiring work, the restoration was conducted safely. During the more than 100 hours of work -- and 4,000 repairs -- the company reported only a few minor injuries and traffic accidents.

In an area from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, Isabel left millions of people without power. As of Tuesday morning (9/23), about one million homes and businesses were still without power in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

"As we finish restoration work in our service area, we are making crews from other utilities and contractors available to companies that are still working to restore service after Isabel," Sipics said.

He thanked the companies that provided help to PPL Electric Utilities and its customers.

"We appreciate the fact that we can call on other companies and they are able provide hard-working crews that help us restore service faster," he said. "All of the companies that helped us did an outstanding job."

Companies that provided line crews, electrical workers and tree trimming services to assist PPL staff include:

Electric utility companies Massachusetts Electric, Northborough, Mass.; Narragansett Electric, Providence, R.I.; Granite State Electric, Lebanon, N.H.; Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; KeySpan Energy, Brooklyn, N.Y.; United Illuminating, New Haven, Conn.; NSTAR Electric, Boston, Mass.; and Hydro Quebec, Montreal, Canada.

Electrical contractors Henkels & McCoy, Asplundh Construction Corporation, Everhart & Hoover, T.C. Lloyd, Williamsport Electric, T. Ross Electric Contractors, KT Power Inc., B.J. Baldwin Electric, Harlan Electric Co., Three-Phase Line Construction, L.E. Myers, JCR Construction and Tall Trees.

Tree services Jaflo, Asplundh, Dincher Tree Contractor, Eastern Tree and Kocher's Tree Service.