TRENTON, N.J. -- Utility crews were working around the clock to clear toppled trees and other debris as power was slowly being restored to the hundreds of thousands of people in the Northeast who were affected by a fast-moving ferocious storm system that caused two deaths.
The line of storms - which packed heavy rains, lightning and dangerous winds - also knocked down dozens of transmission lines and hundreds of wires as it thundered through eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut on Tuesday night.
Crews were chopping up trees and repairing utility poles that were damaged or knocked down by the storms, which also disrupted mass transit in some areas.
Nearly 400,000 customers were still without electricity Wednesday afternoon. In Pennsylvania, PECO said about 137,000 homes and businesses were without power. Chester and Delaware counties were hardest hit. Officials said full service might not be restored to some customers until the weekend. For others, it may even be longer.
In New Jersey, nearly 180,000 homes and businesses were without electricity Wednesday afternoon. The southern New Jersey counties of Gloucester, Camden and Salem were among the most damaged areas.
Forecasters were trying to determine whether straight line winds or a tornado caused most of the damage. The National Weather Service said a 71 mph wind gust was recorded at Philadelphia International Airport.
The storm is responsible for at least two deaths.
A 15-year-old girl on a church camping trip was killed by trees knocked over in Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest.
In Maryland, Montgomery County Police said a 79-year-old man died Tuesday night after his pickup truck hit a downed tree in Beallsville after storms swept through.
In many areas, homes and cars were destroyed by fallen trees and transformer explosions.
Adrienne Johnson, who lives in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, said the damage to her block resembled the aftermath of a tornado. She said the uprooted trees were old and needed to be removed long ago.
Johnson was home when the storm hit around 6 p.m. Tuesday. She said some people ran to their basements.
"You could hear the thunder and once the thunder hit, you heard the trees snap, cracking," Johnson said. "It looks like a war-torn area. Trees are everywhere."
The PATCO Speedline between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia was not operating during Wednesday's rush because of power problems. But trains had started running again in limited service by Wednesday afternoon.
New Jersey Transit has suspended service on its Atlantic City rail line, while the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority suspended service along some regional rail lines.
Amtrak suspended its Northeast Corridor and Keystone services from Washington through Philadelphia and on to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Tuesday but restored service about two hours later.
Some passengers tweeted about delays that lasted much longer.
The NWS is investigating whether a tornado formed in parts of Gloucester County. Officials did confirm a small tornado briefly touched down in Wrentham, Massachusetts, near the Rhode Island border.
Connecticut's two largest utilities reported more than 19,000 customers lost power, with outages in Durham, East Haddam, Monroe, Redding and Ridgefield.
In New Hampshire, the fast-moving storm knocked out power in in Colebrook, Columbia, Pittsburg and Stewartstown, but most service was restored before morning.
Emergency officials say a storm-related service outage in parts of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware is preventing Verizon cellphone calls to 911 and other landlines. Officials say the outage is also affecting cellphone calls to non-Verizon cellphone numbers. Customers say they're hearing busy signals.
The strong storm system was the same that had spawned tornadoes in the Midwest, including at least nine in northern Illinois.