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As heavy wind and rain is still generated by Hurricane Irene, more than a million homes and businesses are without power or phone service today Sunday. And as the storm moves closer, outage are expected to increase in the region.
According to the Washington Post, more than 30,000 Pepco customers had lost power by 9PM on Saturday. A Pepco spokesman declined to say if the numbers had been expected but he did tell the Washington Post that amid criticism of the company’s reliability, he would agreed that the storm will prove “a major test for the company.”
It was expected that the worst of Hurricane Irene was going to hit the American capital between Saturday night and Sunday Morning. Associated Press reported that the residents of Washington was just about to pull themselves together after the earthquake earlier in the week when this new force of nature came knocking. Forecasts expected several inches of rain and wind of up to 60 mph including possible flash flooding.
The consequences of the storm will prove a major test to the capital’s disaster preparation. “I don’t think Washington is equipped for a big storm or evacuation or anything like that,” Melvin Holloway, a retired District of Columbia water department employee told AP on Saturday. “There’s just no communication.”
One of the issues is the possibility of flooding but as the city has failed to renovate the flood-control system in time, the city must turn to sandbags in order to protect important buildings – not to mention people’s own homes.
AP reports that hundreds were lining up for up to two hours to collect sandbags for their homes. Around 15,000 bags were handed out in two days. “They should have done it earlier,” said one Tina Harris, 36, who had waited an hour and a half on Saturday afternoon.
In New York, the city has been bracing itself for worst case scenario and while the New York Stock Exchange is hoping to open on Monday, Hurricane Irene has the final say according to Reuter’s report. Given the pressure on the American market, investors may be a little anxious – and with good reason, as they rely on the NYSE to open for business. Since the marketplace, including the NYSE, is mostly automated, it is mainly a matter of reliable power. Unless there is a major outage, electronic trading will continue as normal.