Fallen palm trees lie on a road after the hurricane Sandy in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Thursday Oct. 25, 2012. Hurricane Sandy blasted across eastern Cuba on Thursday as a potent Category 2 storm and headed for the Bahamas after causing at least two deaths in the Caribbean.
Utilities and local governments throughout the mid-Atlantic region are getting ready for Hurricane Sandy, which could bring strong winds and rain to the D.C. area starting Sunday and heading into next week. States of emergency have been declared in Virginia, Maryland and the District.
Power companies ramp up
Dominion Virginia power crews across the commonewealth are already stocking up on supplies for their trucks and preparing to be on standby, company officials say. Dominion suggests customers clear gutters and remove debris from yards, charge up cell phones in advance and purchase minimum amounts of perishable groceries in case of outages.
Pepco, the electric utility that serves most of D.C. and the close-in Maryland suburbs, will discuss storm preparedness later today.
Maryland governments put preparation in motion
In Prince George's County, government officials are readying their command center and putting staff on standby. They'll determine today exactly when and under what conditions they'll bring in additional staff, according to Susan Hubbard with the county transportation department.
"Staff in all of agencies are on call who would have to do anything, from public works and transportation, to environmental resources etc.," Hubbard says.
Prince George's county is urging residents to head to the store early to stock up on necessities such as water and batteries, but to avoid buying too many perishable items in the event of a power outage.
Hubbard also reminded residents of the county's new 311 service for non-life threatening hazards. Requests can be reported via phone by dialing 311 or online at the County Click website.
"We ask folks not to call the emergency number unless it's a life threatening situation," Hubbard says. "They can call 311 to report flooding, trees down, or anything like that. It's staffed 24-7, and those folks working there will filter it out to the agencies that need to address the problem."
Virginia takes stock before Sandy
In Alexandria, city workers are sweeping the storm drains and catch basins of leaves to prepare them for the flow of water. They're asking that residents do the same.
"We're asking people not to rake their leaves into the streets this weekend, but to bag those in an effort to prevent the storm drains from clogging with heavy rains next week," says Tony Castrilli.
U.S. Navy bases in Virginia are also getting ready for a possible strike by Sandy. The commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic is ordering installations in southeast Virginia to operate under Tropical Cyclone Condition Four, which means base personnel are being told to remove debris from drainage areas and to secure objects that could be blown away, causing injuries or damage during the storm.
Meanwhile, weather experts are trying to decide if Hurricane Sandy is heading to the D.C. area and how long she'll stay. The storm is expected to run into a winter storm moving in from the west which could cause high winds, heavy rain, extreme tides and possibly even some snow in the western areas and higher elevations.
Latest forecast from NBC Washington
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