- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2012

On a typical morning, the staff at the Happy Paws pet grooming and boarding salon in Northwest Washington washes, trims and cares for as many as 40 dogs.

As Hurricane Sandy moved into the area Monday, however, the staffers who made it to work spent as much time playing cards as playing with pets.

“We’re playing Rat-Tat-Tat,” said Stefanie Duval, owner of Happy Paws, at 4904 Wisconsin Ave. NW. “Only three dogs have come in today. One person came because she lost power. One person came because she wanted to go to the gym. The third person came because she works for a news station and had to go to work.

“We’re staying open. But it’s quiet. Nobody’s coming.”

Across the Washington region and along the East Coast, Sandy’s arrival meant work, school and bridge closings, an emptying of streets in the nation’s most populous corridor. It meant television weather reporters in wind-whipped, rain-pelted network ponchos, unironically warning viewers to stay inside. It meant Washington Wizards forward Jan Vesely tweeting, “I thin[k] about all of you. I hope everything will be OK.” A handmade sign taped to the glass door of a Tenleytown electronics store read “NO C OR D-CELL BATTERIES.”

Mostly, it meant coping.

The Supreme Court was in session Monday — hearing cases involving national security and the resale of consumer goods manufactured overseas — but closed early, postponing Tuesday’s arguments until Thursday. Airports shut down, too, and Gallup’s pollsters suspended their daily “tracking” survey of voters with just over a week before the presidential election. The Tomb Sentinels who patrol the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery were among the few with outdoor jobs who reported for work.

Off work, working out

So did Bryan Bullock, a manager at Crunch Fitness in Northwest Washington.

“I told our staff to go home by 1 p.m. to be safe,” he said. “I’ll pretty much be the only one here. I’m supposed to stay open until 11 p.m. If I find that we still have power and other people lose power, we’ll stay open all night as a safe haven — a warm place to be, to take a hot shower.”

A few minutes after noon on Monday, Mr. Bullock said, about 60 people were exercising at his workplace.

“In the past 10 minutes, I’ve gotten 20 phone calls asking if we’re still open, how late are we going to be open,” he said. “I think people might just be getting stir-crazy.”

In Takoma Park, author and storm specialist Mike Tidwell was busy giving telephone interviews explaining Sandy’s power, how the storm’s surge could flood lower Manhattan, and why superstorms are likely to become more frequent and damaging because of climate change.

Mr. Tidwell also was working from home, where he was running an emergency pump on a window well located on the side of his basement.

“When it rains really hard and the water table rises, I have to go downstairs and turn it on every hour or so to evacuate the water,” said Mr. Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and author of “The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas and the Coming Death of America’s Coastal Cities.” “If the electricity goes off, I’ll have to manually bail.”

Story Continues →