Tens of thousands without power in D.C. and worst is yet to come

By Laurie SnowTurner

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 6:13 p.m. MDT

As rain from Hurricane Sandy arrives in Washington, Rick Campbell of Upper Marlboro, Md., reaches for sandbags to shore up vulnerable spots at The Pavilion at the Old Post Office, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. The Justice Department is seen in the background. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

J. Scott Applewhite, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washingtonians are in the thick of Hurricane Sandy, according to local news reports, and the worst is said to still be coming.

The biggest worry for most people is losing power as they wait nervously for what is to come in the next few hours – forecasters predict the worst of the storm will hit from Monday evening through midnight, bringing the heaviest bands of rain and wind yet.

Facebook and Twitter messages are dwindling as more people lose electricity. Messages like, “last post until the power comes back on” and “lost power at 3 p.m.” are popping up while local television stations are reporting that tens of thousands of homes are without power. Dominion Power in Virginia reports that power outages will peak between 8 and 10 p.m. Monday.

One Facebook user in Woodbridge, Va., posted, “Breaking News! This huge tree JUST fell on our neighbor’s home. They are safe. Really is nasty out there. Thank you to our Fire & Rescue teams who are working all night!”

Another in Washington, D.C. said, “The gusts just keep getting stronger, supposed to be like this all night. Glad we live in a row house…less likely to pull a Dorothy and Toto.”

From South Riding area in Northern Virginia, “It’s official. My neighborhood is in the DARK.”

From Chantilly area, ”Up to 50-mile per hour wind gusts. And yes it is still raining...25 hours now.”

From Herndon, “I think we will be sleeping in the basement tonight. Winds getting stronger. We still have power, but power is blinking off all around us. This is wild.”

From Arlington, “Creepy Halloween decoration turned essential hurricane items.”

About half of the homes in Herndon, near Dulles Airport, are without power. Fairfax County officials have told residents of two streets to evacuate immediately because of high tides estimated at 11 feet on Fenwick Drive and Arlington Terrace in Northern Virginia. People have been finding shelter at the Lee District RECenter in Alexandria and hoping they won’t return to their homes to find them completely flooded.

In Montgomery County in Maryland, State Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein confirmed one person has died in a storm-related accident.

Winds are reported in the area at about 60 mph with predictions that wind gusts will increase to 60 to 85 mph in the next few hours, causing more trees to fall and more power outages.

On Twitter, Bryan Norcross, meteorologist at the Weather Channel said, “For folks staying home, if you’re riding out the storm in a house surrounded by trees, stay on the opposite side of the house from the wind on a low floor. Close the curtains to cover windows facing the wind . . . but still be very careful near any glass that could break.”

Both Reagan National and Dulles Airports have canceled flights, stranding many travelers in the airports with little hope of getting flights out until Wednesday at the earliest. Schools, businesses, and government offices will remain closed again tomorrow, and the metro and bus system will suspend service for another day.

Laurie Snow Turner is a writer in the Washington, D.C.area. Check out her blog at lauriesnowturner.com.

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