Hurricane Irene: D.C., Maryland, Virginia impacts

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As waves rolled onto the wide beach, only a smattering of visitors was on a beach that normally would be packed on a sunny, hot Friday.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Dawson Taylor, 88, was one of the handful of people strolling down the 3-mile boardwalk. He owns 10 hardware stores in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. "We've had two fantastic days, of course, selling hurricane supplies," he said. "Batteries, water, plywood - everything you can think of."

But Dawson, who reminisced about a 1933 storm that slammed Virginia Beach, said Irene has got him worried. "I'm concerned about this one," he said. "I've been through a lot of them, but 110 miles sustained winds, that concerns me a little bit."

Tim Riley, a battalion chief with the Virginia Beach Fire Department, said officials were confident a recent beach replenishment that tripled the width of the beach, to 300 feet, and an elevated boardwalk shields the city's main tourism drag from storms. He said the seawall was built to withstand storm surges of up to 16 feet. He said most of the major high-rises were also built to weather fierce storms.

Down the road in Sandbridge, where a mandatory evacuation took effect at noon, traffic was light on the only road out of town and several people enjoyed the beach Friday morning.

At Sandbridge Community Chapel, workers lined glass doorways with sandbags and brought plastic playground equipment inside to keep it from blowing away. Homeowners in the area boarded up windows at their cottages with plywood and moved loose items like outdoor chairs, benches and grills inside.

John Landbeck of Aberdeen, Md., spent Friday morning packing up the vacation home he was renting and pulling his fishing boat out of the water. He planned to ride out the storm at a hotel in Chesapeake and return to his rental for another two weeks once the storm passed.

"We won't sit out in a storm like this, that's stupid," he said.

Tropical storm force winds are expected Saturday in Virginia with the storm's brunt coming in Sunday morning's wee hours.

The storm that is making its way up the East Coast is supposed to pound the area with rain and possible flooding.

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