Mandatory evacuations were ordered for at least 11 communities, including the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach, a barrier island dotted with rentals, Accomack on the Eastern Shore, and low-lying areas of Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth.
The Navy ordered the Second Fleet out to sea to escape the storm.
Apparent tornado heavily damaged five homes in the Sandbridge area.
Last hurricane to hit the state was Isabel in 2003.
About 30,000 homes and businesses without power.
About 200 trees were down around the city.
Washington National Cathedral officials say Hurricane Irene has not worsened any damage from last week's earthquake that caused significant damage at the church.
Approach of hurricane forced postponement of Sunday's dedication of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Public transit in nation's capital never shut down.
Last hurricane to hit was Hazel in 1954.
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