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Grazed by Sandy, D.C. returns to normal

| Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 5:08 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Government workers packed onto commuter trains and tourists flocked to the National Mall on Wednesday in the nation's capital, where there were few signs of the dangerous hybrid storm that blew through 36 hours before.

The Potomac River was swollen and muddy after receiving 7 inches of rain from Sandy, but Washington was largely spared the damage seen by other East coast cities.

“We got lucky. The storm went north. Though we did get a lot of rain, and we did get a lot of wind, we didn't get the brunt, clearly, like New Jersey and New York did,” said Christopher Geldart, the city's emergency management director. “Everything we could possibly do ahead of time to prep for this, we did.”

Even Pepco, the much-maligned local utility, was praised by officials for getting the lights back on quickly. More than 130,000 Pepco customers in the District of Columbia and its Maryland suburbs lost power at some point during the storm, but by Wednesday afternoon, fewer than 1,000 customers remained in the dark.

In June, a violent thunderstorm called a derecho left many Washington-area residents in the dark for a week, and Pepco was roundly criticized. But the slow-moving hurricane allowed the utility to start preparing a week in advance, Pepco spokesman Marcus Beal said.

“Overall, preparedness was really high for this,” he said.

On the National Mall, the only signs of the storm were puddles and downed branches.

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