There's nothing like a hurricane to make a man want to go fishing. There he stood, impregnable and determined, beneath a bridge over the Occoquan River. With a rod in his hands and a single, thin line of string bobbing violently in the rough water, the man waited for something to bite. Anything to bite.
"But I don't even like to eat fish," said Mohammad Siddik, of Lorton. "So if I catch anything, I'll just throw it back."
Despite the fierce winds and heavy rain, and regardless of warnings to keep clear of rivers and lakes, the 42-year-old fisherman spent Thursday, his regular day off, doing what he enjoys most.
"I heard the reports, but really, this is just rain. It's not that bad at all," Siddik said as he reeled his string back in, checked it over thoroughly and then cast it out once more into the murky, muddy waters. "I just love the water, and I love the view. And this is what I do when I don't have to work or I have free time."
About a hundred yards from where Siddik stood, two women in raincoats leaned against a car. The historic Town of Occoquan was eerily silent for the most part.
Ellen Jones, owner of both Irish Collection, a shop that sells items from Ireland, and Mill Street Gallery, an art store, stood by the car with Patch O'Riordan, her assistant manager. Both chuckled lightly as they said Hurricane Floyd looked much worse on TV reports.
"I came for the high tide and watched the water rise and fall. This was really nothing to worry about," Jones said, adding that both her shops face the river and that a real storm surge could have damaged both stores.
Along the river, at the Prince William Marina and the Occoquan Boat Club, rows of boats neatly lined the docks. The water calmly bobbed the boats up, then back down, up, then back down. No one was tending to the boats; most had done so the previous day, after news reports warned sailors about the storm and higher-than-usual tides.
Occoquan's streets were also empty. Automobiles were parked safely in carports and driveways, and little stirred, save for an occasional wood swing in an occasional grassy yard.
On Occoquan Bay, Tyme N' Tide Marina employees kept busy by watching television (not the news) and just "kicking back," said Bob Tyrrell, owner of the marina.
"We had a few people call up saying they wanted us to move their boats, and we spent yesterday [Wednesday] moving things off the shelf in case the place flooded," said G. Keith Black, parts and service manager.
Tyme N' Tide keeps all its patrons' boats locked in a multilevel garage, using forklifts to stack the boats neatly.
"We've been through this so many times, with other storms, that this is really just rain and not a whole lot more," Black said.
In and around Occoquan, most shops bore closed signs, while just a handful of stores waited, and hoped, for a customer.
United Parcel Service "has been here, and that's about it," said Linda Caldwell, owner of the Coffee House of Occoquan. "This is really nothing, and the world has to go on."
So Caldwell and her daughter-in-law, Kerri Caldwell, spent the day sorting through inventory while her grandchildren played in the coffeehouse.
"We're just thankful it wasn't worse or as bad as they said it was going to be," Linda Caldwell said. "Else we would have spent the day praying harder than we already are."