The city manager for Alexandria, Va. has declared a local emergency, making it easier for the city to request assistance from the state.
Alexandria is used to dealing with flooding when heavy rains come, but city leaders say Hurricane Irene has the potential to dole out much more than routine conditions.
Old Town resident Alan McCurry said he and his wife are planning for the worst.
"We weren't during Isabel, but we're serious about this one," he says.
Hurricane Isabel, which hit in 2003, caused the Potomac River to flood nearly three blocks past its normal banks.
City communications director Tony Castrilli says there's no way to tell if Irene will pack that much punch. Because the river is tidal, Alexandria may not know what they're up against until after the storm has passed.
"Problems could be down the road. We won't be out of the woods for several days after this storm," he adds.
Right now, Castrilli says the worst part of the storm will hit Alexandria early Sunday morning.