Hurricane Sandy — the cleanup begins

Across the re­gion, PECO crews are busy restor­ing power that was in­ter­rup­ted by downed trees and power lines. Land­scap­ing crews are saw­ing their way through old, large trees that were toppled by the high winds that swept the re­gion last night. A drive through the Great North­east has turned in­to a maze of de­tours as or­ange cones and yel­low po­lice tape block off streets closed by fallen limbs and downed power lines. PECO says the num­ber of out­ages caused by the "Franken­storm" has set a re­cord.

In North­east Phil­adelphia, the cleanup began in earn­est Tues­day in the af­ter­math of Hur­ricane Sandy, a pro­cess that will take weeks, if not months, to fin­ish. Roads in the re­gion be­came a maze of de­tours be­cause of downed power lines and toppled trees. The sound of po­lice and fire sirens on Monday night, when the storm reached its peak, gave way to the sounds of elec­tric saws and chip­pers as the day dawned. Road­ways were blocked off by or­ange cones or yel­low po­lice tape be­cause tree limbs or downed power lines made the streets im­pass­able.

The high winds that ac­com­pan­ied the hur­ricane, later down­graded to a trop­ic­al storm, up­rooted en­tire trees and yanked branches off their trunks, leav­ing them dangling. There were sev­er­al re­ports of trees that had fallen and crushed parked cars and trucks.

Those streets that were not blocked were littered with small branches that had been torn by the winds, and wet leaves that made the as­phalt slick.

On Roos­velt Boulevard, one of the busiest roads in the city, many in­ter­sec­tions had traffic sig­nals that had gone dark, caus­ing mo­tor­ists on feed­er streets to pro­ceed with ex­treme cau­tion when en­ter­ing the boulevard.

Liz Wil­li­am­son, a spokes­man for PECO, said that 585,000 cutomers across the Phil­adelphia re­gion had lost power be­cause of the storm, in­clud­ing about 65,000 in the city of Phil­adelphia. But the utilty had re­stored power to 230,000 cus­tom­ers by mid day Tues­day.

Wil­li­am­son said the num­ber of power out­ages had set a re­cord for power in­ter­rup­tions caused by storm dam­age. She said it would take sev­er­al days to re­store power to all PECO cus­tom­ers, even though the util­ity’s usu­al work­force was be­ing aug­men­ted by util­ity work­ers who had come from five states to as­sist.

SEPTA had re­stored its Broad Street sub­way line, Frank­ford El and all trol­ley ser­vices by noon Tues­day. Re­gion­al rail lines re­mained shut down, though, be­cause of dam­age on all the lines.

Traffic lights on busy roads across the re­gion were out. There were re­ports at mid af­ter­noon of the traffic lights at Ashton and Wil­lits roads be­ing dark. Also, the traffic sig­nals at Cottman Av­en­ue and Hor­rocks Street were dark. On that corner, a brick facade of a Sprint store toppled over, caus­ing ma­jor dam­age to the build­ing.

An­oth­er busy road, Pine Road, is closed at Red Li­on Road be­cause of a large tree ly­ing across the road.

Shef­field Av­en­ue west of Frank­ford Av­en­ue is closed be­cause of lean­ing util­ity poles and dangling wires.

Ac­cu-Weath­er is re­port­ing that more rain and winds will con­tin­ue through to­night, but that they will taper off, and the worst is over for this re­gion.

Read­ers who have taken pho­tos of the storm dam­age can share them with the North­east Times by email at Write Sandy in the sub­ject line. Or, you can leave a storm-re­lated news tip at 215-354-3025.

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