In Fairfax County, officials began evacuating people from the flood-prone Huntington community, beginning with Arlington Terrace and Fenwick Drive.
Officials in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York braced for significant damage and ordered some to leave their homes. . New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) ordered the evacuation of Coney Island and a huge swath of Lower Manhattan, and authorities shut down the city’s schools and its subway system, effectively bringing the nation’s largest city to a near-halt.
More than 60 miles inland, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) urged people to leave low-lying neighborhoods. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) blasted Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford as a “rogue mayor” for defying the governor’s mandatory evacuation order.
The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Christie said Langford had allowed people to shelter in city schools, including one that flooded. And rescue workers would not be able to get there until the morning, Christie told reporters.
“This storm is a killer storm that will likely take more lives as she makes landfall,” O’Malley said. “This is a very large and unprecedented storm. It will be a couple of days before it will be even safe to get linemen out on the streets [and] up in the bucket trucks and reconnecting people to power.”
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said Sandy “is unlike any storm I’ve seen in 20 years in office. It’s a very unique weather event this late in the season for the people of Virginia.”
Utility companies brought in extra repair crews from distant states after it was predicted that up to 10 million people might lose electricity. And the lights started going out as Sandy drew near.
For a time, the storm forced utility companies to call their crews in, as any wind above 35 mph creates hazards for workers who operate bucket trucks.
Weather forecasters said the confluence of intense elements was unlike anything they have seen before, particularly across a swath of the United States inhabited by almost 60 million people.
“Many have compared Sandy to ‘the Perfect Storm’ of 1991, and experts have warned it may be even worse,” said Jason Samenow of The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. “Generally speaking, though, each storm has its own character, and sometimes you just can’t compare until all is said and done.”
As the storm intensified at about 11:30 a.m., apartment building maintenance supervisor Bobby Richardson stepped into a 7-Eleven off of Wisconsin Avenue wearing a slick yellow rain outfit that made him resemble — to some extent — the Gorton's Fisherman.
Richardson said he had been out since 6 a.m. checking storm drains and gutters at an apartment complex near Connecticut Avenue and Rodman Street as the rain got progressively worse.
He headed to the convenience store a little before lunch so he could pick up a newspaper for an 87-year-old woman who is a family friend, Reotis Rogers.
Rogers usually walks to pick up a copy of The Washington Post every morning as part of her physical therapy but couldn’t because of today’s storm, Richardson said.
“This lady needs to have her newspaper every day,” said Richardson.
Lynh Bui, Ann E. Marimow, Lori Aratani, Emma Brown, Tim Craig, Aaron C. Davis, Hamil R. Harris, Ed O’Keefe, Laura Vozzella, Del Quentin Wilber, Debbi Wilgoren, William Branigin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Looking for something specific? Here’s a guide to our Hurricane Sandy coverage on washingtonpost.com:
Weather survival tips
Transportation: Metro, airports and more
Hurricane Sandy on social media
Politics and the storm