D.C. area preps for Hurricane Sandy

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Grocery stores were packed this weekend, with lines twisting into aisles and shelves becoming increasingly bare, as people prepped for Hurricane Sandy.

Rain is expected to hit the Washington area starting Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, with winds kicking up to 50 mph by Monday. Forecasters are predicting possible flooding and several inches of rain in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Both Virginia and Maryland declared states of emergency while local governments and utilities geared up to handle the expected storm damage and warned residents to be prepared. Metro was planning to place sandbags to divert water from portions of the rail system while area airports stepped up prestorm efforts and warned travelers to check for cancellations.

How to prepare for the coming storm:
» Stock up on emergency supplies including water, batteries, nonrefrigerated foods and flashlights
» Remove leaves from gutters and road drains to reduce flooding
» Get gas prior to the storm in case gas stations lose power
» Ensure outside furniture and yard decorations are secured in case of strong winds
» Check on neighbors who might be in need of assistance

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said at a press conference Friday that people should re ready for a long-duration weather event.

"Regardless of where it hits ...the National Weather Service has advised us there's going to be wide spread impacts around the Commonwealth of Virginia for a sustained period of time -- for three or four days," he said.

Other organizations are also preparing for the long haul. Thomas Graham, Pepco region president, said Friday the company will have more workers on-call to avoid the major outages that occurred during June's derecho storm.

"All we can do is restore the damage," he said. "We can't control the weather."

In the interim before the rain starts, local leaders are strongly recommending people stock up on emergency supplies, clean out gutters and clear streets of leaves to reduce flooding. Residents should also fill up with gas before the storm starts.

That's what shoppers were doing Saturday and stores were reporting jam-packed aisles and long lines.

At the Safeway in Dupont Circle, Store Manager Don Loschiavo said supplies were going fast.

"It's the normal things you would think (for a storm)," he said of the typical purchases, citing water and batteries as the top sellers.

He said the store plans to stay open during the storm if weather permits, and he imagines the flow of people won't slow down much.

"We'll be busy all day," he said before he turned to show a man where exactly the batteries were.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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