PHILADELPHIA – Residents of this waterlogged city have been largely spared the worst effects of Sandy, the hurricane-turned-nor’easter that tore through trees and power lines overnight but did not deliver the catastrophic blow many had feared.
“We came through it pretty well,’’ Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told WPVI-TV news early Tuesday. No deaths were reported in the city, where about 50,000 customers lost power.
More than 1 million people were without power in Pennysylvania overnight, though electric crews working through the night managed to restore service to at least 200,000 customers.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, asked by reporter Tuesday morning whether the state had “dodged the bullet” compared with the more extensive damage in New York and New Jersey, replied: “Anyone without electricity is probably not saying we dodged the bullet.”
He added: “We don’t have a coastline. That’s what helped us considerably.”
Philadelphia had been directly in the projected path of the storm, which made landfall at about 8 p.m. Monday on the New Jersey coast. But much of the rain carried by the system swerved west and south, drenching Maryland but leaving southeastern Pennsylvania with lower rainfall totals than predicted.
The 2.36 inches of rain that fell on Philadelphia, according to the National Weather Service, was far below the 5 to 10 inches predicted. But Dover, just across the Delaware border, was drenched with 8.46 inches. More than 11 inches of rain fell on Wildwood, N.J., and 9.37 inches in Cape May, N.J.
High winds rattled windows throughout the night, downing trees and clogging streets with fallen branches and leaves throughout the region. About 230 trees fell in Philadelphia alone, Nutter said.
As New York and New Jersey coped with extensive flooding and wind damage, Pennsylvania focused on getting back to normal. Philadelphia International Airport reopened Tuesday but with few flights. The facility’s biggest airline, US Airways, announced that its flights at the airport remain canceled.
Four interstate highways that had been shut down overnight in eastern Pennsylvania, including Interstate 95, reopened to traffic Tuesday. But schools, universities and government offices in Philadelphia remained closed, and transportation officials were deciding when to restart the region’s rail, bus and subway service.
“The morning now is about assessment, cleanup and still about public safety,” Nutter told TV station NBC-10 in Philadelphia.
Two people died in Pennsylvania in storm-related incidents, Corbett said. An 8-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree limb in Susquehanna County, and a 62-year-old man was killed by a falling tree in Berks County.
In Philadelphia, the Delaware River crested at 10.62 feet, setting a record, according to Nutter. The Schuylkill River was expected to crest at 10.1 feet this afternoon, the mayor said. There were no reports of major flooding damage in the Philadelphia area.
The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for all of Delaware, most of Maryland, southern New Jersey and portions of southern Pennsylvania. High-wind warnings were issued for eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, and for most of New Jersey.