Many are still without power following a widespread blackout that left millions of residents sweltering in 90-plus degree heat. Utility and municipal crews worked through the July 4 holiday to restore power and remove downed tree limbs.
The death toll from the power-cutting storms and blackout has risen to 26 after two accidents in Virginia.
Several cities outright canceled their holiday parades and fireworks shows as they try to put their communities back together.
"They had been saying most people would have (electrical) service back by Wednesday, but we didn't want to risk having a big party in a home where you couldn't turn on the air conditioning, you couldn't turn on a TV or a computer," said Jeanette Oliver of Vineland, N.J. "Several people in our family are elderly, and you don't want them suffering with the heat and being uncomfortable."
In New York, about a dozen disabled soldiers - most triple or quadruple amputees - visited ground zero ahead of the usual throng of tourists. The visit was intended to salute service members who survived the post-9/11 wars to become miracles of modern medicine, and to promote two charities raising money for homes custom-built to ease their burdens.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.