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The utility requested 3,700 additional crews, but demand for assistance is competitive because of the size of the looming storm. From an industrywide perspective, about 15,000 requests for additional resources have gone unfulfilled in the Eastern states, Mr. Graham said.

Mr. Graham said crews may not be able to being restoration efforts until Wednesday because of the sustained high winds expected Monday and Tuesday. He also advised customers to report outages and downed wires.

“Any wire that you see down should be considered live,” he said.

About 20,000 people in the Hampton Roads, Va., area experienced storm-related power outages by Sunday afternoon, although many of them had their power restored during the day, Mr. McDonnell said.

Dominion Virginia Power has an additional 2,000 people on standby to help with power outages across the state, Mr. McDonnell said.

Residents prepare

The city of Alexandria offered sandbags to residents and businesses hoping to fend off rising water. In 2003, Hurricane Isabel pushed Potomac River water to historic levels, flooding Old Town’s cobblestone streets and even parts of the George Washington Parkway.

As he hauled sandbags to the front door of the Old Town restaurant where he works, Michael Solsberry said businesses could only do so much to defend against rising waters and high winds.

“Our window is 20-feet-by-20 feet,” Mr. Solsberry, 26, said. “There’s not a lot we can do to stop it if it’s coming down.”

In the District, Megan Baker, 32, rented a car Sunday to help carry the many bags of groceries she had purchased at the grocery store.

“I reverted back to my college years,” Ms. Baker, who lives in the H Street area of Northeast, said of her purchases. “Macaroni and cheese, potato chips, ramen noodles and beer.”

Ms. Baker said she also brought work home with her on Friday in anticipation of working remotely from the office on Monday.

Back in Alexandria, Shaquana Banks, 36, of Fort Lincoln, did not appear fazed by the mayhem at a Target store. Loading several bags into her car, Ms. Banks said she planned on purchasing only a few extra supplies ahead of the storm.

“I’m from the South, so I’m kind of used to hurricane anything,” she said. “I might pick up some extra flashlights and batteries, but all that other extra stuff? Meh.”

Despite reports that many grocery stores had run out of bottled water, Mitti Smith said the shelves were “overflowing” with bottled water at a Safeway in Northeast.

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