Less than 36 hours after the second worst snowstorm in Philadelphia history had passed, the region's towns and cities had largely cleared major thoroughfares and even secondary roads as life returned to something approaching normal.
Most suburban schools were open today, if a bit late, and city officials said they expect Philadelphia public schools to resume classes tomorrow as well. Garbage collection in Philadelphia is expected to resume tomorrow.
"Overall, when you think about what this storm represented . . . our folks have done an incredible job under incredible circumstances," Mayor Nutter said.
To be sure, many residential streets in the city remained unplowed, and even some that had been plowed were still difficult to navigate. But residents and veterans of past storms said the city was managing well, given the historic volume of snowfall.
"'96 was much worse," said Charlie Stinsman of South Philadelphia, referring to the only blizzard in recorded history to top last weekend's storm.
Then, many streets went unplowed for days, and trash lingered uncollected for weeks.
"I think people have to remember this was the second largest storm in history, so all things considered it seems to me like they did a nice job," said former Managing Director Phil Goldsmith, who led the city's response to snowstorms as a member of the Street administration.
At the peak of its weekend snow clearing operation, the City of Philadelphia had 600 employees plowing and salting city roads, with about 350 vehicles joining the effort, said Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson.
She estimated that 2,300 of the city's 2,500 miles of roadways had been plowed, but she was quick to say that "plowed" does not mean pristine.
"Our goal is to make streets safe for a vehicles traveling with discretion. It will not be blacktop everywhere," Tolson said.
Many larger roads, though, were completely clear by midday. Even the city-maintained sidewalk along Kelly Drive near Boathouse Row was so pristine that the large white mounds on either side of it offered the only evidence that snow had ever touched it.
Fares Washington was among the few pedestrians enjoying the Schuylkill views there. He drove in from Horsham, in part because he knows Kelly Drive is usually cleared of snow quickly. He ran about a mile and half and walked three, protected by a hat, gloves and layer of long underwear under sweats and a windbreaker.
"I just felt like I wanted to get out and get some activity," he said.
Philadelphia public schools will be open, operating on a regular schedule. That means the district's fleet of yellow school buses will be running, too, though parents are advised that delays in morning pick-ups and afternoon drop-offs are possible because of snow-related traffic.
In the five county region, PennDot used 7,500 tons of salt and about 15,000 gallons of brine on 3,530 road miles - or 8,915 lane miles. PennDot has agreements with 96 municipalities to plow the 1,264 miles of state roads within their jurisdictions. They had 425 trucks involved, 182 were PennDot trucks the others were subcontactors.
Over 500 employees both inside and in the field worked 12-hour shifts during the storm starting at 3 a.m. on Saturday, according to Gene Blaum PennDot spokesperson. Most workers were done by 4 p. m. on Sunday. About 100 trucks were out at 4 a. m. on Monday to monitor conditions for ice and do minor cleanups.
Nick Martino, the PennDot assistant district executive for maintenance in the five county area, sounded like a football coach after a successful win.
"Our game plan really worked," Martino said said. "We came out hard and early."
He explained how they "hit the salt heavy in the beginning" which prevented the ice packs from getting hold on the roads. They tried never to have more than three inches on the roadway and did their best to keep ahead of the storm.
Montgomery County Department of Public Safety Director Thomas M. Sullivan said that although snowfalls varied greatly in the county, with some areas reporting 12 to 18 inches, unofficially, he had not heard of any major problems. The county had a higher-than-normal number of auto crashes and house fires over the weekend, but Sullivan said he had not learned of any deaths caused by snowstorm-related accidents.
"We had a pretty significant snowfall, but the fact that it happened on a Saturday afternoon couldn't have been any better for us," Sullivan said. "People finished their shopping and headed home before it became much of a problem."
In Bucks County, a Quakertown man was killed and a young woman was injured in a snowmobile accident early Sunday, but no other major problems were reported by county officials.
"For us, it was minor. PennDOT and the road crews did an excellent job," said county emergency services director John Dougherty. "Even our accident totals were down from what they usually are. I think people took our advice and stayed home."
Motorists did have plenty of trouble this morning, particularly getting out of driveways or plowed-in street parking spots.
AAA Mid-Atlantic reported a record number of roadside assistance calls this morning - about 2,000 - mostly from motorists who needed a "tow and extraction" out of the snow or a battery charge.
The Pennsylvania State Police reported 311 crashes in the greater Philadelphia area over the weekend, including one fatality.
From 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday, the latest period for which data was available, there were 178 reported vehicle incidents in southern New Jersey, said State Police Sgt. Julian Castellanos.
An additional 29 incidents were reported at the southern end of the Garden State Parkway during that period, along with another 93 at the southern end of the New Jersey Turnpike, he said.
A spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation said it was too early to report the cost and amount of snow removed as a result of the storm.
"We will function throughout the winter and we are well supplied for any further weather, even in the near future," said spokeswoman Fran McCrory.
In Cherry Hill, township employees worked 36 hours straight over the weekend to plow, sand and salt roads, costing the township over $200,000 in overtime and other expenses, Mayor Bernie Platt.
The township deployed 41 snow plows and salt spreaders at the height of the storm, along with a crew of 63 public works employees and supervisors.
In Medford, a crew of two dozen has been working in staggered shifts around the clock since 5 a.m. Saturday, according to Township Manager Mike Achey. Over the following 24 hours alone, the township fielded 11 emergency services calls, 18 fire calls and 257 police calls, he said.
Clearing cul-de-sacs has posed a challenge, as workers had to haul snow away in trucks to open areas and the public works facility. In some instances, residents left their cars in the middle of the road and walked home, making it difficult for plows to get through, said Achey.
Costs associated with the storm aren't yet available, he said, "but it's not going to be cheap, I can tell you that. It's a big storm."
In Moorestown, officials recently set aside a reserve of $45,000 to handle snow storms.
"It's a lot of snow. . . . We're used to dealing with storms of lesser volume," said Township Manager Christopher Schultz.
In Haddonfield, the cost of the storm is not only overtime but also "the abuse of the (snow removal) equipment," said Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough.
She said Haddonfield is also trying to figure out what to do with all the mounds of remaining snow pushed to the side of the roads, adding that forecasted rain later in the week could help wash it away.
The storm has had a mixed effect on the borough's downtown retailers.
With Christmas just a few days away, snow hasn't kept customers away from the Happy Hippo toy store, according to manager Maryellen DeMille.
"They're coming, snow or no snow," she said.