Hurricane Sandy Path: D.C. region bracing for major storm

A church sign in Kensington. (Photo: Suzanne Kennedy)

This summer's historic derecho knocked out power to more than 400,000 Pepco customers.

Kensington resident Victor Olason was one of those people who endured days-long power outage.

After what he experienced in June, he's worried going into next week's storm.

“I am concerned about power outages always because without power you're in big trouble,” Olason says. “We haven't had many other problems with storms here. It's the power that's the main thing.”

Pepco announced Friday that it is gearing up for a multi-day, all-hands-on-deck event.

In addition to its regular and stand-by contracted crews, the utility company is requesting 2,500 lineman, 400 tree trimmers and 400 damage assessors.

The company's call center will also be supplemented with additional staff.

“This is a hurricane. A hurricane is a major event,” says Dave Velazquez of Pepco. “Wherever it makes landfall...wherever the cone of winds are there will be significant damage. Its just too early to tell where that will be.”

Mary Swengros is taking no chances ahead of Hurricane Sandy. She, like others in Kensington, is getting prepared.

Along T Street northwest, in the heart of Bloomingdale, residents tried to clear leaves from yards. They hope to keep the drains as clear as possible.

“This here is ground zero,” says Bloomingdale resident Michael Pollard. “We have hills coming in all directions.”

They worked frantically putting screens over drains. Some residents already pulled out sandbags from this summer's string of floods.

The rash of floods has some residents making investments to try to keep their homes dry when the heavy rain falls.

Bruce McCracken hopes a backflow preventer will protect his home when Sandy strikes. Meanwhile as the storm approaches his frustration grows.

“The lack of preparedness by the city,” McCracken says. “The leaves are out we are afraid they are going to clog the drains they are not trying to help out.”

D.C. council member Kenyan McDuffie did come to help sweep leaves. He acknowledges the city has done little to alleviate the flooding problems plaguing this neighborhood.

“In terms of this weekend, it's going to be a challenge if hurricane Sandy comes our way,” McDuffie says.

So as the storm approaches the folks in Bloomingdale brace for this street to again become a river.

On the coast

Meanwhile, the Delaware shore is a study in contrast. It’s a beautiful day Friday and the Rehoboth boardwalk is as crowded as a summer's evening. But behind the scenes a wary town is getting ready for the worst.

The family that owns the old Funland Amusement Arcade is filling sandbags and boarding up windows.

“You know, we've never seen something like this so we just don't know what to expect,” says Chris Darr.

You can see that in-the-bullseye fear up and down the coast. At the Indian River Inlet, Jerry Perry is doubling up the dock lines on his boat.

“If it hits where they're saying in Jersey or up the Delware Bay, it could be pretty bad for Indian River,” he says.

In Dewey Beach, a massive sand plow rumbled up Route 1 to be ready to clear roads. Sharkey Shingledecker owns a landmark lunch place in town. He says Sandy is all anyone is talking about.

“We're all trying to gather up our water and some extra food for the house,” Shingledecker. “Businesses are preparing. We do think we're gonna get hit this is no joke. We're not taking it lightly.”

And yet there is that contrast. Rehoboth's Seawitch Halloween festival is expected to bring nearly 200,000 people to town tomorrow while the weather is still good.

“And then I think we'll see a pretty good exodus after that,” Darr says.