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October 29, 2012

Washington Residents Brace for Hurricane Sandy

by Michael Lipin

Traffic here in the nation's capital was light and roads were mostly free of flooding at mid-day Monday as Washington, D.C. braced for Hurricane Sandy.  

Some Washington residents, like this man, took advantage of a lull in the wind and rain to do some last minute shopping.

"We've got bottled water and everything else.  But I just need some coffee and I'm too lazy to make it, so I'm just going out to Starbucks," he said.

Rob says he has a good idea of what to expect when the hurricane hits.

"I've lived around this area my whole life, so I know what happens when the rain comes and the trees go down and the power goes out.  I think [Hurricane] Isabel in 2003 was a lot worse.  But I think this one is just getting cranked up," said Rob.

With government offices and schools closed and Washington's mass transit system shut down, one couple is stepping outside their home for a short walk to the Anacostia River.  They say they are concerned about the risk of the flooding, but feel prepared to ride out the storm.

WOMAN:  "I actually grew up on an island, Trinidad and Tobago, so hurricanes were pretty normal events for us."

MAN:  "Everything is going good.  Everybody has been up to date with the new social media - with Twitter, Facebook - so everybody's more informed than they were in the past."

Washington, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is visiting the neighborhood and says her officers are monitoring areas where flooded streets and downed trees might cause problems.

"Since we're an emergency agency anyway, preparing for things like this is something we do on a regular basis, so we're at an advantage.  But coordination among all the agencies is critical right now," said Lanier.

Lanier says most residents appear to be heeding advice about the storm.

"I'd like to see everybody go home and wrap up on the couch with a blanket and some coffee!  But I think everybody's trying to get their last minute provisions in, and some food and things like that.  I think in the next couple of hours, this one's really going to pick up.  And when this one picks up, trees are going to start coming down.  We're going to have some flooding on the roadways.  And you're really putting yourself in jeopardy and making our job a lot harder if you are out here," she said.

Weather forecasters are warning residents to prepare for power outages and dangerous flooding of local streams late Monday and on Tuesday.