The Virginia National Guard was authorized to call up to 500 troops to active duty for debris removal and road-clearing, while homeowners stacked sandbags at their front doors in coastal towns. At a Home Depot in Virginia Beach, employee Dave Jusino said the store was swamped with customers.
"We have organized chaos, is what I call it," Jusino said. "We organize a group of 10 associates, give them certain responsibilities and we just separate the lines, organize four customers at a time, load up their cars and get them out the door and then take the next customers."
Utility officials warned rains could saturate the ground, causing trees to topple into power lines, and told residents to prepare for several days at home without power. "We're facing a very real possibility of widespread, prolonged power outages," said Ruth Miller, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
Warren Ellis, who was on an annual fishing pilgrimage on North Carolina's Outer Banks, didn't act fast enough to get home. Ellis' 73-year-old father managed to get off uninhabited Portsmouth Island near Cape Hatteras by ferry Friday. But the son and his camper got stranded when high winds and surf forced the ferry service to suspend operations Saturday.
"We might not get off here until Tuesday or Wednesday, which doesn't hurt my feelings that much," said Ellis, 44, of Amissville, Va. "Because the fishing's going to be really good after this storm."
Last year, Hurricane Irene poked a new inlet through the island, cutting the only road off Hatteras Island for about 4,000.
In Connecticut, the Naval Submarine Base in Groton prepared to install flood gates and pile up sandbags to protect against flooding while its five submarines remain in port through the storm.