HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvanians began returning to their normal routines Wednesday after making it through two days of rain and wind from Sandy, with many headed back to work and school amid a cleanup effort that had utility crews working to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
The storm that did so much damage along the coast before it drenched Pennsylvania was blamed for at least nine deaths in the state. It was more than a mild inconvenience for the million-plus who lost power and the countless others whose homes were damaged by blowing rain and falling trees, but it was not the disaster for the state that some had feared.
Gov. Tom Corbett said there were no reports of major flooding as the center of the weather system drifted west and its winds diminished to 10 mph or so.
"We are breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief," he said at a news conference late Tuesday at the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency outside Harrisburg. "I'll breathe a better sigh of relief when we get everybody back on line with electricity."
Power outages were the storm's most damaging byproduct, but the number of customers in the dark fell to about 800,000 by midday Wednesday.
In the hard-hit Philadelphia region, Peco spokeswoman Martha Phan said it could take a week for all service to be restored. The utility still had 375,000 customers without power Wednesday, down from a peak of 850,000 that made Sandy the most damaging storm in the utility's history.
For many, Wednesday meant going back to work as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's trains, buses, subways and trolleys were up and running again after being idled because of the storm. Some schools, however, remained closed because of power outages.
At a train station in downtown Philadelphia, Yvette Bradley, 35, an attorney who lives in the suburb of Willow Grove, hadn't been able to make it in to the city for several days because of the storm and subsequent transit shutdown. She said she was relieved to be able to get back to her morning routine Wednesday, taking regional rail downtown as she normally does.
"It was a relief to have it back," Bradley said. "It was on time."
On Tuesday, she said she hadn't wanted to drive downtown from her home about 15 miles north of Philadelphia, for fear of what the situation would be once she got closer to the city. "You don't really know what the city's going to look like," Bradley said.
Another commuter, Dan Brown, 29, said he, too, was glad to have transit service back to normal. But he was less than pleased with the reasons for his longer-than-normal commute Wednesday.
Getting off the subway and headed to his job as a designer, Brown had just dropped off a rental car. He needed the rental car because his own vehicle was crushed by a tree in the storm while parked on the street by his new house in south Philadelphia. He had just moved in a few days earlier.
"This is how you welcome me to the neighborhood?" he said of his car, which was totaled. "Better the car than the house."
Corbett said teams of state troopers and Guardsmen, and a couple of helicopters, would be deployed Wednesday to check out conditions in remote areas. A dollar estimate remained days away, at least.
In Lehigh County, the coroner on Wednesday announced two more deaths from the storm.
Tammy Kerosetz, 48, was pronounced dead at her Lower Macungie Township home from carbon monoxide poisoning Tuesday evening; authorities said she had been overcome by exhaust from a portable generator.
In South Whitehall Township, Theresa Schlitzer, 86, was pronounced dead of hypothermia Tuesday after being found unresponsive in her yard following prolonged exposure to the storm.
The other storm-attributed deaths included an elderly Lancaster County man who fell from a tree he was trimming in advance of the approaching storm and a teen who struck a fallen tree while riding an ATV in Northampton County.
In eastern Pennsylvania, a 66-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning and several other people were taken to a hospital after being overcome by fumes from a generator running in a garage because they had no electric power, and a 90-year-old suburban Philadelphia woman was found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator turned on when the storm cut power to her home.
An 8-year-old boy died when a tree limb fell on him in Franklin Township, north of Montrose. In Berks County, a 62-year-old man died after a tree fell on top of a house in Pike Township, near Boyertown. And in Somerset County, a woman died when the car in which she was a passenger skidded off a snowy, slushy roadway and overturned into a pond.
Despite Sandy's huge size and soaking rains, landlocked Pennsylvania managed to avoid the kind of widespread, catastrophic flooding that marked Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011. It also fared far better than New York and New Jersey.
Associated Press writers Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, Peter Jackson and Marc Levy and Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Joe Mandak in Pittsburgh and Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report.