Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Mayor Nutter assesses Sandy

Michael Nutter has led the city through multiple snowstorms, an earthquake and two hurricanes. He's happy that the city performed well under duress, but he'd be just as pleased not to be an expert in emergency management.

Mayor Nutter assesses Sandy

As Mayor Nutter watched more rain fall on Philadelphia late Tuesday, he was proud that his city had survived Hurricane Sandy, weary from lack of sleep, and a little surprised at his growing expertise in emergency management.

He’s steered Philadelphia through multiple snowstorms, an earthquake, Hurricane Irene and now, Sandy.

It’s experience no one wants, and as he headed out to PECO’s regional operations center in Plymouth Meeting Tuesday evening, Nutter said he has worked hard to figure out how best to get the public to understand the risks of natural disasters.

“Ccommunicating a message of this nature is difficult,” Nutter said. “On the one hand, you run the risk of scaring people. On the other hand, people will say it’s really not that bad - they’re just saying that. And striking that balance is a bit of a challenge.”

He felt like Philadelphians listened.

He want to the Lowe’s near his home Sunday to get a flashtlight and was pleased to say others stocking up, too.

“Folks were buying stuff, and they were out. They were getting their batteries. They were getting their flashlights,” he said. People also seemed to listen to city officials’ advice to stay indoors.

The mayor, a former DJ known for his musical knowledge, said he had no special soundtrack for the storm, just a solid mix of the music he usually plays, including “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool and “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine.

When he arrived at PECO’s offices, company president Craig L. Adams told him that at about 800,000 customers lost power during Sandy.

“It us our largest event ever iin PECO’s history. It was a huge storm,” Adams told Nutter and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, D-13, as TV cameras recorded the moment.

After utility officials showed Nutter the giant screen with its red-and-green grid that they use to track substation outages, the mayor joked about how the region’s many natural calamities had made him a frequent visitor in Plymouth Meeting.

“Apparently, it’s our annual visit to the operations center,” he said.

He praised utility employees for working in hard in dangerous circumstances.

“I don’t know how they do what they do, but I certainly don’t know how they do it in the wind and the rain,” Nutter said.

He and his team have been staying at a hotel near City Hall during the storm, but tonight, he planned to head home at last.

“It was something,” he said as his driver pulled up to City Hall, “but we got through it.”

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Troy Graham and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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