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Philadelphia, suburbs emerge from Sandy

The scene at the corner of Chelten and Wissahickon avenues in Philadelphia said it all: A blue mountain bike, badly mangled and turned upside down, but still somehow tethered to a bicycle rack.

The scene at the corner of Chelten and Wissahickon avenues in Philadelphia said it all: A blue mountain bike, badly mangled and turned upside down, but still somehow tethered to a bicycle rack.

The city and its suburbs emerged shaken but largely intact Tuesday morning, after taking a night's beating from Sandy's high winds and rain. Some people remained in shelters, but waterways were receding in certain areas, and many residents were coming outside to survey the damage and take a deep breath of relief.

Travel remained challenging, with downed power lines and trees closing streets. SEPTA began resuming services at noon, hoping to bring the system to full strength piece by piece. Shopping malls planned to reopen Tuesday, though an estimated 1.2 million were without power across Pennsylvania.

A Peco spokesperson said total outages for Southeastern Pennsylvania reached more than 800,000 at the height of the storm, shattering previous records, and as of Tuesday morning 585,000 were without service. Restoration could take days.

What remains of Sandy, which has lost all its tropical characteristics, is moving westward and later in the day will make a northward turn toward New York state and Canada. Showers will continue here throughout the day.

In Philadelphia, scenic Rittenhouse Square was intact.

People jogged, walked their dogs or strolled with cups of coffee in hand. The only sign of Hurricane Sandy was the brown and gold foliage on the ground. Stores including Federal Donuts and Di Bruno Brothers prepared to open later Tuesday, while places like Manhattan Bagels at 18th and Sansom streets and Dunkin Donuts on 20th and Chestnut streets were already bustling.

Most people in the immediate area seemed to have power.

In Germantown, four big, old trees came down at the Alden Park Apartments, and workers were on the scene this morning. Further up the road on Wissahickon, tree branches had fallen into power lines.

Mayor Nutter told reporters that his administration will work throughout the day to lead the clean-up and get the city running normally.

The Delaware River spilled over its banks and onto Columbus Boulevard early Tuesday, but receded quickly as the rain slowed. Shortly after 9 a.m. today, most of the water was gone from the road, leaving behind branches, leaves, dirt and trash.

Boats anchored in the marinas near the Race Street pier bobbed peacefully in the water, with no signs of serious damage.

A walk along the Schuylkill Banks in Center City revealed almost no damage. The river was below the bulkhead. Dog-walkers out in force at the new dog park, students from Penn and Drexel traversed the Walnut Street Bridge, and no trees appeared to be down.

Elsewhere in the region, Delaware County officials say they largely got off easy, even in some flood-prone areas. Tuesday morning a police cruiser was still trapped by fallen trees at Naylors Run Park, near the Darby Creek, but the overall impact was less than expected and feared, according to Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

"We had no floods at all, " he said. About 8,000 power outages were reported, although some services already have been restored, he said.

Chester city spokeswoman Summer Freeman said about 100 homes lost power, and flooding occurred in a residential area that had been evacuated on Monday.

"We haven't had any unexpected flooding," Freeman said.

About 36 people remained in a Red Cross school shelter, and it was unclear when they might be able to return home, she said.

In Montgomery County, about 15 women spent the night at a shelter in Cheltenham High School, but the power went out at about 9:30 p.m. "All our food went bad," said Virginia Kremer.

In Elkins Park, a tree fell on a house on Chelten Hills Drive, but no one was at home at the time. Tree limbs were down on several blocks, including one across a playground fence at Myers Elementary School.

Roads and cars looked like they had been painted in gold and brown leaves. The Elkins Perk coffee shop, which hardly ever closes, did so on Monday but was back open this morning, a hub for people trading storm stories.

The streets were devoid of the SEPTA buses that normally grind down Montgomery Avenue on weekdays, and the parking lot at the Elkins Park regional rail station held but three cars.