- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2012

D.C. residents in flood-prone areas such as Bloomingdale are on “pins and needles” as city agencies put the final stamp on plans to deal with heavy rains and potentially dangerous winds on Sunday into next week from Hurricane Sandy’s creep up the eastern seaboard, officials said Friday.

D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Democrat, said he will ask Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s cabinet for firm details on sandbag distribution, shelters for displaced residents and other efforts ahead of the storm’s landfall. Flooding and sewage back-up were constant problems for his constituents along the Rhode Island Avenue corridor during the summer, when heavy rains pummeled the region on multiple dates.

“Folks are anxious,” Mr. McDuffie said. “They want to know what preparations are in place to prepare for hurricane-like weather.”

Citywide, the mayor has asked D.C. agencies to join a conference call at 1 p.m. to discuss their storm preparations.

“We have a hurricane plan and we’re going to execute it,” Mr. Gray’s spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro, said.

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stressed there is a lot of uncertainty “four days out” from the storm’s likely turn toward the coast and collision with wintry weather from the North. In a conference call, NOAA meteorologists said rainfall amounts could total 10 inches toward the coast and 5-10 inches further inland, with current projections hitting Delaware and northeastern Maryland the hardest.

Winds could exceed 50 miles per hour along a vast swath from the coast to the Appalachian mountains, and parts of West Virginia could see a foot of snow, they said.

In the District, the storm’s ultimate path will dictate adjustments in the city’s plan, Mr. Ribeiro said.

“The storm’s track still varies wildly, depending on which model you are looking at or which meteorologist you’re following,” he said. “We’re not quite sure whether it’s going to be a glancing blow or a full-on hit.”

Mr. McDuffie said he has received assurances from Pepco, the power utility that serves the District and thousands of customers in Maryland, that it will have additional crews on hand to handle any power outages in Bloomingdale. Pepco received criticism in late June, when a derecho storm knocked out power among its customers for up to week during the heart of a heat wave.

The utility is scheduled to outline its storm preparations during a media event at 1 p.m.