D.C's “Most Unusual Week” Continues

First an earthquake. Then the aftershocks. And now an impending hurricane.

"This has been perhaps the most unusual week in the history of the District of Columbia," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said at his pre-hurricane news conference Friday afternoon.

Gray said the District will declare an emergency soon, which provides options for response and allows D.C. to ask for federal funds. Emergencies were declared more than 24 hours earlier by both Maryland and Virginia.

Gray, his staff, utility companies and others gave a rundown on how they are preparing for Hurricane Irene.

Gray said the District is preparing for 24 hours of hurricane conditions starting early Saturday afternoon, with 2-4 inches of rain (or more), winds up to 50 mph and possible flooding into late Sunday.

Sandbags are available for residents and the National Guard will be at the ready if needed. Many city services will be closed Saturday except for libraries and the DMV. Homeless shelters will be open all day long for those who have no where else to go to escape the storm.

There will also be shelters available for other people if they cannot stay in their homes. They will be the Emory Shelter (5800 block of Georgia Ave.), Turkey Thicket Rec Center (1100 Michigan Ave. NE), the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and the Benning Stoddert Rec Center (100 Stoddert Pl. SE). The Armory may also be available if needed thanks to the National Guard.

DC Water GM George Hawkins reminded residents that they don't have to buy bottled water to survive the storm. He encouraged people to fill up any containers they have with tap water and stick it in the fridge.

Mayor Gray made another suggestion.

"If you have trouble finding a gallon bottle, just go in there and pour out that wine, and fill it up with water," Gray said with a smile.

On a more serious note, the mayor urged people to use 311 to report problems throughout the weekend.

Pepco spokesman Bill Gausman said that the company -- which has been heavily criticized for its response after past storms -- has hundreds of crews ready, "more than we've ever had for a storm." A reminder was given that wire work cannot be done by crews while high winds are still in the area.

Metro Director of Emergency Management Peter LaPorte said that sustained winds of 45 mph would cause WMATA to consider closing above-ground service. That happened during Hurricane Isabelle.

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