Hurricane Sandy’s path through Northwest Philadelphia: Day Two

Residents in pockets of Northwest Philadelphia are dealing with power outages, downed wires and fallen trees this morning.

NewsWorks will keep you continually apprised of storm-related issues in Northwest Philadelphia and beyond.

We have reporters stationed throughout the neighborhoods and will keep a close eye on storm ramifications in historically flood prone areas like Belfield Avenue and East Haines and Musgrave streets in East Germantown. By all means, send photographs or tips in to us as well.

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Check back throughout Tuesday and Wednesday for the latest from Northwest Philadelphia. 

5 p.m. Tuesday update:

NewsWorks’ Megan Pinto, reporting from Main Street in Manayunk, shared that power “has been restored between Shurs Lane and Cotton Street. Most sandbags outside businesses haven’t been touched.”

Also, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Housing Authority reports that the PHA will be open on Wednesday.

4 p.m. Tuesday update:

We added video from cleanup efforts on Midvale Avenue, where a falling tree smashed a car to bits, while blocking traffic for quite a while, and West School House Lane, where trees and branches were still being collected Tuesday afternoon.

You can see it at the bottom of this post.

2:20 p.m. Tuesday update: 

SEPTA has resumed much of its service including the Broad Street, Market-Frankford and trolley lines.  WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler reports that 80 percent of city’s bus service has also re-started but the transit agency is still struggling with a lot of downed trees on the Regional Rail lines.

1 p.m. Tuesday update:

Though Sea Isle City is not in Northwest Philadelphia, we checked in with Mayor Lenny Desiderio to see how they were faring down by the Atlantic.

“We have a lot of beach erosion, debris in streets, a lot of cleanup ahead. We’re just starting the process now,” he told NewsWorks. “No idea how many people stayed. When they saw that tide coming in, many realized they had to get out.

“I had no idea what to expect with this kind of storm, not knowing how bad it was really going to get.”

Noting that a reverse 911 call to locals enabled them to pluck some 14 residents (including an elderly man on oxygen) from harm’s way, Desiderio put things into perspective.

“No lives lost. That’s what matters most,” he said. “The property damage, and there’s a lot of it, we’ll fix.”

12:30 p.m. Tuesday update:

Darlene Wynne was watching TV with her husband and two kids inside their East Falls home on Monday night when Hurricane Sandy’s winds struck their front yard.

“All of a sudden, we heard a very quick and odd noise and I think it was the windshield breaking but we didn’t hear anything else,” Wynne said. “My husband went to the door and said ‘our tree fell!’ and I didn’t believe him; I thought he was just pulling my leg.”

The giant sycamore tree landed across the stretch of Midvale Avenue outside of their home, up the road from Thomas Mifflin Elementary School. It avoided all houses in the vicinity but did cause damage to a few of the cars parked along the street.

The understandably-shaken mother of a three year old and seven month old picked up the phone to call 311 but gave up after having to sift through a series of electronic prompts. Neighbors called 911 and, soon enough, fire and police personnel showed up in front of their house.

“Our front lawn, apparently, was entirely a rootball from a tree and is now totally ripped up and it took our steps and our railing up too,” she said. “It crushed my favorite Japanese maple and our two year landscaping, but that’s fixable. We’ve just got a big cliff if you walk out our front door now.”

One of the main concerns for the Wynne family is the water piping underneath the steps, which has gotten tangled by tree roots during storms before. So far, however, it’s showing no signs of damage.

A Fairmount Park official was on the scene this morning assessing the damage.

As a crowd of neighbors and their dogs crowded around the tree in disbelief on Tuesday morning, the Wynnes kept their cool, counted their blessings and laughed it off.

“It’s kind of humorous and it brings, in a weird way, the neighborhood together,” she said. “You get to come out and hang out with your neighbors like you haven’t in a while because no one can drive down the street.”

12:15 p.m. Tuesday update:

A group of Chestnut Hill residents gathered among the branches of a large downed tree on the 8600 block of Seminole St. late Tuesday morning.

Most of them, clad in rain gear, stopped to chat with their new neighbor Youngmoo Kim, who owns the home where the tree once stood. It’s now blocking car traffic down Seminole.

Kim, who moved in two months ago, said he heard the tree fall around 10 p.m. Monday. The electricity went out almost instantaneously.

“It sounded like something snapping and then we saw a flash and then all of the power went out,” said Kim of a crash that took down two utility poles and a speed-limit sign.

As neighbors introduced themselves and chatted about the storm, Kim said things could have been worse. His property was otherwise intact and the damage provided an unexpected opportunity for the block’s newcomer.

“A small silver lining to this is that we got to meet so many of our neighbors today,” said Kim with a smile.

12 p.m. Tuesday update:

Officials with the District Attorney’s office confirmed Tuesday morning that a Public Safety Town Hall meeting scheduled at Triumph Baptist Church on Hunting Park Avenue has been cancelled.

The DA’s office indicated that they will be rescheduling the meeting.

Also, the shelter at Cheltenham High School has closed due to a power outage. Shelters at Norristown High School and Pottstown High School remain open.

11:30 a.m. Tuesday update:

Crews with McFarland Tree Service worked to clear two completely uprooted trees at the corner of Westview and Sherman streets in Mt. Airy.

Eric Lopez, second climber with the company, said the “big emergency” job will take approximately 16 hours to finish.

Then, there’s cleanup.

“We got to make it look beautiful again,” said Lopez, as machines whizzed and whirred behind him.

10:15 a.m. Tuesday update:

From a police perspective, East Falls and Southwest Germantown weathered Sandy well.

As noted by Capt. Verdell Johnson, commanding officer of the 39th Police District, a few trees went down, but there were no losses of power and no flooding in the areas traditionally prone to flooding.

Asked to comment on a score of car break-ins along Midvale Ave. and Walnut Lane, Johnson said that while a few individuals took advantage of the opportunity that the storm provided, the thefts from autos were, unfortunately, nothing out of the norm for this area.

“As far as I can see,” said Johnson, “the 39th managed the storm very well.”

NewsWorks’ Aaron Moselle also reports that traffic lights are out at Morton and Baynton streets along Chelten Avenue in East Germantown.

9:45 a.m. Tuesday update:

Mt. Airy resident Clifford Wagner stopped his car (with his pooch in the back) to ask a NewsWorks reporter if he wanted to help him try and clear some downed branches that fell across North Mount Pleasant Avenue.

No such luck. The limbs were far too heavy.

Wagner, a scientist, said he was glad, nonetheless, that he hasn’t seen more tree damage so far. (He’s not looking in the right places.)

“I was so scared of this storm because I love these trees that we have. We didn’t lose any, just about,” said Wagner.

From the city comes word that the 311 call center said they’ve gotten 16,000 calls since yesterday. Monday saw nearly 9,000 calls, double the average.

9 a.m. Tuesday update:

NewsWorks is hearing reports of numerous instances of vandalism in East Falls and Germantown during the Monday night storm.

A NewsWorks reader sent in photographs of several car windows busted out with no evidence of storm-related projectiles.

Additionally, NewsWorks freelancer Kiera Smalls reported from the 100 block of Walnut Lane in Germantown that “in the midst of taking tree pictures, I walked by police officers talking to neighbors and each car had a busted window, but no trees or (projectiles) in sight.”

7:30 a.m. Tuesday update:

Residents in pockets of Northwest Philadelphia are dealing with power outages, downed wires and fallen trees this morning.

At last count from the American Red Cross, 55 people were in the Northwest Philadelphia shelter at Roxborough High School, along with six pets. NewsWorks reporters are heading out now to assess the damage.

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