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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Write Sandy in the subject line. Or, you can leave a storm-related news tip at 215-354-3025.