You know things are bad when your hometown and "ground zero" are used in the same sentence.

The ice storm that downed trees and limbs, cutting power to more than 1 million people, affected much of south-central Pennsylvania.

But York County bore the brunt, according to one person who ought to know.

"This was the hardest-hit area," said Chris Eck, spokesman for Met-Ed. "This is ground zero for us in this storm."

More than 120,000 customers in our area lost power at some point during the storm that moved in Tuesday and continued into Wednesday.

By Thursday, about 41,000 were still in the dark, and Eck said it would be days before the lights come back on for some.

When they do, the customers can thank 1,300 of the company's line workers – many who came to York County from surrounding states and worked around the clock in harsh conditions to restore power.

It might be cold comfort for those who spent days without electricity, but their inconvenience could have lasted much longer without the influx of out-of-state workers.

As often happens during major weather events around here, lending a hand was the name of the game after this storm.

By Wednesday afternoon, neighbors were helping neighbors with the cleanup, helping to remove tree limbs from yards, driveways and roads.

By evening, the American Red Cross had set up a shelter at the York County School of Technology, where those without power – and heat – could spend relatively comfortable nights.

Of course, they have to be fed, as well, and the staff at York City's White Rose Bar & Grill was ready to serve donated meals that first night.

General manager and partner Jeremiah Anderson received the request from the Red Cross around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

By that evening, Anderson's kitchen crew had planned and prepared 150 dinners – soup and chicken with sides of a vegetable medley and red-skinned mashed potatoes – and he personally delivered them to the shelter.

Anderson said the restaurant lent a helping hand because it was the right thing to do.

"We're just glad we could help out," he said.

The shelter at York Tech is one of several around the county still providing shelter.

And when those displaced by the storm require a bit more than a "cot and a hot," places like the York Jewish Community Center are offering more of the comforts of home.

The JCC is inviting anyone without power to the center for Wi-Fi, showers, heat and entertainment until 9:30 p.m.

"This will go on as long as people are without power," said Heidi Storey, associate membership director.

The York County SPCA is even offering emergency accommodations for pets particularly susceptible to cold, such as birds and reptiles.

"If someone finds themself in an emergency situation because of a power outage, we will do our best to assist them," said Melissa Smith, the SPCA's executive director.

This week's storm is just the latest in what's become a long hard winter. One might expect people to be tired and grumpy by now.

So it's especially heartwarming to instead see so many coming together in a time of need.