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WaPo's McCartney: D.C. Region Braces For Hurricane Irene, Political Climate In Va. Looks Good For Republicans

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Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney gives an analysis on this week's top stories including how the region will cope with Hurricane Irene and any trends that developed from this week's primaries in Virginia.

Hurricane Irene expected to cause thousands of power outages in D.C. area

Hurricane Irene is one of the biggest headlines this week; her pending arrival has people across the region hitting grocery stores, stocking up on sandbags, and evacuating in places along the coast. We had a big traffic problem earlier this week with the earthquake that hit and everyone trying to get out of town.

McCartney says a lot of people in the D.C. metro region should expect power outages. Pepco’s record for handling power outages is not the best. The good news, however, is that we have advance warning and the region has more experience now in handling these situations.

"This is looking like the worst storm since Hurricane Isabelle in 2003," says McCartney. "In our immediate area, it will probably not be as bad as Isabelle when it passed directly over the region. The center of Irene is well out to the east in the Atlantic Ocean. The beaches are going to be wacked severely – chance of major flooding there, and also up the Chesapeake Bay."

Pepco, which has developed this reputation as one of the least affective utilities in the nation, has already put out the word that they’re getting ready early. They have put out their first call to bring in help from the outside on Tuesday. They’ve already pulled in people from Ohio to help out in terms of restoring lines and dealing with trees. Fifty are arriving today. This is on top of 600 who are already here. They’re trying to be very realistic with people’s expectations, and they’re telling people that this will be a multiday event.

In regards to Metro, the transit system has already put down about 2,000 sandbags to keep water from flooding escalators.

"People will be watching to see if they can keep the trains moving, and get them back moving if debris falls on the tracks. The biggest advantage for Metro, and for the traffic, is that it’s the weekend, so we don’t have to worry about a rush hour, and schools and offices are closed. The one big event – the MLK dedication ceremony – was rescheduled."

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