After snowstorm, digging out and ready to roll

No business like snow business: Jeff Toal carefully clears snow with a front-end loader from diminutive Daly Street in S. Phila.

As Philadelphia-area residents dug through nearly 30 inches of snow to find their cars and sidewalks yesterday, life began to return to normal, with buses and trains rolling again and airlines returning to the skies.

In Philadelphia, public and archdiocesan schools will be closed today, and a number of other area districts, including Cherry Hill and Haddonfield, announced schools would open two hours late.

Mayor Nutter lifted the city's snow emergency at noon yesterday, removing parking prohibitions on major streets.

SEPTA buses, trains, and trolleys, shut down Saturday by the snowstorm, began running again about 6 a.m. yesterday. Most airlines, except Southwest Airlines, resumed operations at Philadelphia International yesterday morning, where both main runways were open.

After Saturday's near-record snowfall, the region awoke yesterday to cloudless skies, and a warming sun aided in snow-removal efforts. Main roads were mostly passable, though many side streets and suburban roads were icy and treacherous.

With the temperature expected to fall to 13 degrees overnight, many streets are likely to be slick and hazardous for this morning's commute. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will have 50 salt and plow trucks out at 4 a.m. to deal with that, said spokesman Gene Blaum.

Near the South Jersey coast, more than 50,000 houses and businesses remained without power yesterday after heavy snow and high winds brought trees and limbs down on power lines, said Sandra May, spokeswoman for Atlantic City Electric, which supplies power to 126 South Jersey municipalities in eight counties.

Gov. Christie said Department of Transportation plows were helping utility crews get to the downed poles and wires in Atlantic and Cape May Counties, the two hardest-hit counties.

"This is one of those situations where we are challenged as a state," Christie said at the Cape May emergency center in Middle Township. "We have to work hard, work together."

Christie said he would make a decision soon about whether to declare a state emergency and begin the process of applying for federal money to help cover the storm costs.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Rendell declared a disaster emergency. Pennsylvania National Guard troops were deployed to assist state police in patrols.

Mayor Nutter praised Philadelphians' response to the storm, as he helped shovel snow in the 7200 block of Charles Street in the Mayfair section about 11 a.m.

"I want to say thank you to all the citizens of Philadelphia - what an incredible job," he said. "Most people are not putting the snow back in the street. We really appreciate that."

The mayor shoveled for about five minutes, with a gaggle of neighborhood children working alongside him.

Nutter said it was too early to estimate how much storm cleanup might cost the city. His administration also could not say how many streets had been cleared.

Joey and Rebecca Herrschaft, who live on Charles Street and watched the mayor's visit, said they thought the city was starting to do a better job of clearing streets.

"The plows hit this street four times already by my count," Joey Herrschaft said.

Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson said the city had about 450 vehicles plowing and salting Saturday and yesterday.

The Herrschafts' 7-year-old daughter, Victoria, is battling leukemia but braved the cold weather to meet the mayor.

"When we said the mayor is coming, she jumped out of bed and ran downstairs," Rebecca Herrschaft said.

Nutter said he had chosen the Mayfair block because he had heard it was well-organized. When he arrived, about 15 neighbors were already shoveling, their second day of such work.

South of Mayfair, through Port Richmond and Bridesburg to South Philadelphia, major streets and many smaller ones were navigable yesterday, but bumpy. Some side streets were untouched.

On Earp Street near Eighth and Reed Streets in South Philadelphia, three-foot-high drifts blocked much of the road. In the 700 block of Earp, neighbors had dug out about two-thirds of the street, said Angie Chan, who was busy sweeping snow from her sidewalk.

"The city doesn't do much on the small streets," she said, "so we have to do it all ourselves."

After an unprecedented decision to stop bus, rail, and trolley service on Saturday, SEPTA had most vehicles back on regular Sunday schedules. Buses were running with delays on many routes because of icy streets, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said, while most Regional Rail trains were operating close to on-time.

The Market-Frankford and Broad Street subways remained in service despite the snow.

"Shutting down the rail lines and bus service allowed us to get things running smoother this morning," Busch said. "Rails are looking pretty good. In general, things are running a little slow."

He said Route 35 buses were being detoured around icy spots on the hilly Manayunk-Roxborough route, and other routes were being detoured where road conditions required.

NJ Transit bus service in South Jersey, suspended Saturday morning, resumed normal operations at 6 a.m. yesterday.

Philadelphia trash and recycling scheduled for today will be picked up as usual, Tolson said. And Water Commissioner Bernard Brunwasser called on Philadelphia residents to help remove snow piled in front of the city's 75,000 storm drains.

Many churches canceled services yesterday, but Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church conducted two services via teleconference instead of asking members to come to the church on South Sixth Street.

About 100 phoned in or listened on the Internet to the 8 a.m. service and about 200 to the 11 a.m. service, said the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, the church's pastor.

The title of the sermon, selected before the storm, was "Call and Response," focused on answering God's call.

"I didn't plan that," Tyler said.


Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or

Inquirer staff writer Chelsea Conaboy contributed to this article.