Philadelphia for the most part escaped the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, which swamped New York City and left a swath of devastation that stretched from New Jersey to New England.
Mayor Michael Nutter characterized the city as being in “premium condition” after the storm.
There was just one minor storm-related injury in Philadelphia, he said.
“We continue to assess the damage and clean up around the city,” said Nutter. “We will call on our state and federal partners, and of course Philadelphians themselves, to get the city up and running at full speed.”
On Tuesday, Nutter was unable to say how much the storm had cost the city in overtime and other expenses.
“We will do all of those calculations later,” he said. “Our primary focus has been on public safety.”
While Philadelphia was spared the kind of damage that devastated portions of New Jersey and New York, there was substantial flooding in some areas, most notably from two tidal surges on the Delaware River, one of which, at 10.62 feet, topped the previous record of 10.6 feet.
But by Wednesday, the city had returned to near normal.
City, state and federal offices were open, as were the city courts.
District Attorney Seth Williams reminded people with court dates that were canceled on Monday and Tuesday that they were not off the hook.
“They will see subpoenas for new court dates,” he said. “They can expect a call from the court.”
Students were back in school, though four buildings – Edison High School, Philadelphia Learning Academies North, B. Anderson Elementary School and Pennypacker Elementary School – remained closed Wednesday due to power outages.
“We expect to have a normal day, and a full day,” said Superintendent William Hite.
Regional rail trains were up and running with only minor delays. Traffic was once again flowing up and down Broad Street.
Though Center City remained largely empty Tuesday, much of SEPTA’s service in the city had been restored by noon, with the Broad Street Line and the Frankford El up and running. Nearly all bus and trolley routes were functioning as normal by Tuesday afternoon.
Amtrak resumed limited service on Wednesday. It had suspended all trains along the Northeast corridor during Hurricane Sandy. Service between New York City and Boston remained suspended Thursday.
Most flights had resumed at Philadelphia International Airport, though there were scattered delays and schedule changes throughout the week as Sandy’s impact rippled up and down the East Coast.
That did not mean no cleanup was needed.
Nutter, at a press conference on Tuesday, said there was still much to be done.
At that point, 65,000 people in the city remained without power; 340 downed trees needed clearing, 120 downed power lines needed attention, and crews were working to restore 73 traffic signals that were broken or lacked power. Transportation Commissioner Rina Cutler said they were being fixed “as we speak” at the press conference on Tuesday.
At the peak of the storm on Monday, the city and Red Cross were housing 380 people at shelters at West Philadelphia, Roxborough and Fels high schools. That number had fallen to 250 people by Tuesday and by early afternoon on Wednesday only 15 people remained at West Philadelphia High School. It was closed Thursday as residents returned home.
In addition to those forced to evacuate, Nutter said the city helped find shelter for 130 homeless people.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the city received 18,000 calls for assistance from Sunday to Tuesday. That was about 500 more than the city received last year during Hurricane Irene during a similar period.
“That’s not all that bad, considering the severity of the storm,” he said.
Ramsey added that most of the problems that remained by Tuesday were traffic control issues.
Fire and emergency medical crews responded to 1,300 calls Monday into Tuesday.
“That’s 300 more than the previous record of 1,000 set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Great service,” said Nutter, adding: “Let us thank our first responders and public safety personnel for their work during this storm.”
The mayor also reported that the city received 46 reports of structural problems related to the storm and that L&I was investigating them.