The sun was shining brightly as a signifier that Hurricane Irene was over as Mayor Michael Nutter (D), Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and a handful of other local officials gathered for a press conference Sunday evening.
If it wasn’t for the Schuylkill River still overflowing above Kelly Drive, you might not have known the storm took place at all. Nutter was applauding police, PECO employees and clean-up crews for the hours of work they had put in during and after the hurricane.
“PECO really has been kicking it out, with about 4,000 people on the ground. They brought people in days ago to get ready for this event. They’ve been turning that service back on throughout the day,” Nutter said.
He added that there are still some heavy winds, and more trees might go down through the night.
“Trees are still going down and knocking others out of service. They will get to you, it may take a little while, but they are doing everything possible,” Nutter said.
Corbett recognized the 1,600 members of the National Guard, who came to help the city and surrounding counties while it was under a state of emergency.
“A lot of these men and women are out there today have also served over in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re really truly somewhat volunteers,” the governor said. “And from across the state, you have volunteers that came here to Philadelphia and went over to Allentown and Bucks County and Wyoming County. The vast majority of people who are working as rescue people are volunteers and I think we all need to give them a round of applause and thanks for what they do.”
The officials at the conference, including Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montgomery) and Chaka Fattah (D-Philadelphia) also thanked workers and volunteers, but pointed out that there are still some places that are recovering. Main Street in Manayunk, Kelly Drive and parts of Northeast Philadelphia are still seeing flooding, as are river communities in Montgomery and Chester counties. Many Pennsylvanians evacuated still cannot return home or are without power.
Earlier in the day, Corbett told reporters in Harrisburg that he asked President Barack Obama to declare an emergency in the state, and specifically in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia counties, among others, according to ABC27.com.
There was a silver lining in the few clouds left over Philadelphia Sunday evening. Mayor Nutter said that SEPTA services are running again, full trash service will be available Monday, and that city employees will return to work Monday, as well. He said Philadelphians reacted to the storm warnings well, and he was proud of the citizens.
“When folks pay attention, when they do what we ask them to do, when everyone’s engaged and involved, you see the positive things that can happen, even in a time of potential great tragedy. This is a testament to the citizens of the great city of Philadelphia,” Nutter said.