Philly region braces for another storm while thousands remain without power

Listen 5:11
(Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

(Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

The Philadelphia region is bracing for another winter storm Wednesday as about 20,000 people in the five-county area are still without power from Friday’s nor’easter.

The National Weather Service has declared several winter storm warnings in the region for “significant” heavy snow in Eastern Pennsylvania and North and Central Jersey.

Hundreds of crews continued to work Tuesday to clear trees and repair power lines damaged by the storm that swept in Friday.

The new storm is expected to drop several inches of snow across most of the state on Wednesday, with up to a foot possible in some areas. But the winds won’t be as strong as last week’s system.

Getting around on Wednesday

All Philadelphia public schools will be closed on Wednesday, as will city municipal offices.

Transit agencies are already adjusting schedules. SEPTA is urging commuters to plan ahead and, if possible, avoid unnecessary travel.

Regional rail lines will operate on a Saturday schedule with enhanced Wilmington/Newark Line service to Newark and Churchmans Crossing Stations. The Cynwyd Line will not be in service. NiteOwl bus service will not operate. For information on bus and trolley routes, visit SEPTA’s website.

PATCO will run on its “snow schedule” from midnight through 2 p.m. Wednesday. As part of the modified schedule there will be no express trains, no Woodcrest Local trains, 6- to 10-minute westbound service during morning rush hour, 10- to 12-minute eastbound service during morning rush hour and 15-minute day base service.

The City of Philadelphia has declared a snow emergency beginning at 8 a.m., and state offices in the city will be closed.

Residents parked on snow emergency routes are required to move their cars to allow for plowing and should be sure to park as far from the corner of the street as possible; vehicles parked too close to the corner get in the way of snow plows trying to turn corners. Check out this Streets Department Snow Emergency map to find out if you’re parked along an emergency route. Cars left on emergency routes will be moved to other parking spots to assist in snow plowing operations. If your car is moved, call 215-686-SNOW to find it.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority will be offering a flat 24-four hour $5 parking rate at the following Center City garages until the snow emergency is lifted.

  • AutoPark at Independence Mall (5th & Market Streets)
  • AutoPark at Jefferson (10th & Ludlow Streets)
  • AutoPark at the Gallery (10th & Filbert Streets)
  • AutoPark at Old City (2nd & Sansom Streets)
  • Parkade on 8th (801 Filbert Street)\
  • Philadelphia Family Court Garage (1503-11 Arch Street – Going south on 15th Street, enter the garage on the west side just after 15th & Cherry St.)

To receive the discounted $5 rate, customers must bring their ticket and pay at the PPA Management Office in each garage.

Travelers and those picking up passengers at the Philadelphia International Airport should check their flight status before leaving Wednesday. Contact your airline, get updates at 1-800-PHL-GATE, or check the Airport website, www.phl.org.

Power outages and restoration

Delaware County, which saw the largest number of outages from Friday’s storm, has been under a disaster emergency declaration since Saturday. On Tuesday afternoon, Montgomery County declared a disaster emergency, and all county offices and the Montgomery County Courthouse will be closed Wednesday.

In New Jersey, where 40,000 people are still without power, Gov. Phil Murphy has declared a state of emergency as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

In Philadelphia, if a tree falls during a storm and poses a safety threat, call 911. Otherwise, call 311. A crew of arborists from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation are on call to respond to tree emergencies, and they will come out to remove the hazard and any part of the tree that is an immediate risk to public safety.

The Philly 311 Call Center will remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to take calls for non-emergencies. Requests for salting and plowing will not be taken during the storm

Only just recovering

Residents in hard-hit Delaware County have taken to social media to air their grievances with the cleanup from Friday’s nor’easter — and to share the good news: The power is slowly turning back on as Wednesday’s storm threatens to put them back in the dark.

Parkside resident Todd Bennett started his Facebook group, “Todd’s Delaware County Weather!” in December to post predictions, storm warnings, school closings, and updates on conditions. Now, the group has more than 2,300 members.

The former KYW traffic producer and self-professed weather geek said this was the worst winter storm he has ever seen, namely because of the wind.

“I personally feel that PECO is doing the best they can with the amount of help,” he said. “I’ve seen tons of people out and about with crews working … I just think Americans are spoiled, and they want instant gratification.”

Bennett’s home lost power on Friday at 9 p.m., so he used a neighbor’s generator to charge his phone, posting updates on the aftermath of the storm throughout the weekend and into the work week.

“If Puerto Rico can go five months without power,” he said, “I can go without it for five days.”

Lansdowne Borough resident Cathy Shaw got her power back late Tuesday afternoon. Most of the town was restored on Saturday, she said, but her little pocket of the neighborhood was left out.

“I coped by sitting in the car a lot,” she said. “Just a big inconvenience, but manageable.”

The Lansdowne Public Library remains without power, and many traffic lights are still not working, but fallen trees were a particular concern for residents.

Benjamin Hover is the chair of the borough’s Parks and Recreation Committee, so after the brunt of the storm — and after making sure his own home had power — Hover ventured out to make sure none of the famous trees in the area fell on houses or caused major damages.

One tree in particular, a large Sycamore, has become a mascot of sorts for the borough because of its age and size.

“Residents who live in Lansdowne and are from there, they were concerned, given all of the storms … that the aged tree made it through,” he said.

And with the 125th anniversary of the town coming up (and the tree being a highlight of the celebration), Hover wanted to make sure it was still standing.

“I took a picture so everyone would be rest assured,” Hover added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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