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Utility crews were ready
A customer leaving the Giant supermarket at Eagle Villiage in Fredericksburg struggles
Dylan Speiser and his mother, Donna, dig a trench
At top, Sketch Ezman (left) and Guy Booth remove planks from the pier at Tim's II Restaurant in Fairview Beach in hopes of blunting damage from Hurricane Sandy. Bottom left, Ti-Asia Allen and Tatyana Nava watch a movie on a laptop at the King George shelter.
Twelve-year-old Tatyana Nava and her best friend, Ti-Asia Allen, do just about everything together.
On Monday, that meant hanging out at the emergency shelter at King George County High School, awaiting the worst of Hurricane Sandy.
Tatyana's mom, Laura Ruiz, brought the two girls to the shelter, along with blankets, clothes, medicine, snacks, a laptop and DVDs.
Ruiz said their home is surrounded by large trees and they were worried about one falling. They also have a well and were worried about not having water if the power goes out.
"We're staying until it's over," Ruiz said.
Ruiz and the two girls were among a handful of residents who went to the shelter Monday. More were expected later, with forecasts calling for the storm to intensify overnight.
Most other area localities joined King George in opening emergency shelters Monday. About 50 people were at Westmoreland County's shelter at Washington & Lee High School by late afternoon; the director said most of them were from low-lying areas and had left their homes as a precaution.
Stafford's shelter had only two people and Spotsylvania's held only three. The city of Fredericksburg hadn't opened a shelter as of 6 p.m., but was prepared to do so if needed, police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3103 provided a dry spot for about 50 homeless men and women. The post serves breakfast each Monday to the area's chronically homeless. Volunteers didn't want to send the men and women into the storm, so the post stayed open through the night, serving lunch and dinner.
At the King George High shelter, cafeteria manager Bea Smith made chocolate chip cookies and the staff prepared a dinner of Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and cornbread.
"It's just to put people at ease," said Anita Davis, the school system's coordinator of cafeterias. "You can't make them less scared, but comfort food always makes me feel better."
Cafeteria staffers weren't the only ones working Monday afternoon because of Sandy.
At Tim's II restaurant in Fairview Beach, owner Guy Booth and maintenance employees Leo Cabral and Sketch Ezman were pulling up every third board on the pier and bringing them inside. The gaps allow the Potomac River's storm surge to splash through the structure rather than carry it away.
It was a lesson Booth and his employees learned the hard way seven years ago, when tropical storm Ernesto damaged the pier.
Even as the boards came up Monday, Tim's II remained open. Booth said he didn't plan to close; his biggest concern was keeping seafood fresh if he lost power.
A few yards down the river, the Shore Store was also open. People trickled in, mainly buying beer, cigarettes and candy, storekeeper Tuffy Garrett said.
"It's all locals coming in today," he said. "And it's been slow."
Colonial Beach was quiet Monday as a steady rain fell and temperatures dropped. There were some heavy gusts, but officials did not expect the worst of the weather to arrive until the middle of the night.
Their fears seemed to be confirmed as night fell. High winds toppled a tree across State Route 205, the main road into town, and brought down a power line with it. Much of the town was without power as of 8 p.m.
Earlier, most of the streets appeared nearly deserted, with only an occasional car passing. The town opened a shelter at the high school at 4:30 p.m., but only volunteers and city officials were there.
Riverboat on the Potomac manager Laura Raley said business was good for a Monday. The restaurant, lounge and off-track betting parlor planned to stay open as long as the building had power, she said.
"This has been good for today," she said.
Steve Brown, a construction worker at the Dahlgren naval base, sat at the restaurant's bar Monday afternoon. Only essential personnel were working at the area's military bases, so Brown had the day off and was tired of sitting at home. "You can only watch so much TV," he said.
Operations were nearly normal Monday at the three Fredericksburg area hospitals, though some local medical offices closed early and will remain closed Tuesday.
The hospitals did not activate emergency plans. Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center reported only one canceled surgery, at the patient's request. At Mary Washington Hospital, the hallways seemed normal Monday afternoon.
"We haven't seen anything major," MWH spokeswoman Debbie McInnis said.
Pratt Medical Center, one of the region's largest physician groups, closed its nine offices at noon. The clinic moved some of its patients to morning appointments, but found that other patients were calling to cancel.
"Some simply can't get to us," said Bob Alexander, Pratt's CEO.
Things were slow at Stafford's Emergency Operations Center for much of the day Monday, but staff said they expected calls to pick up when the brunt of the storm hit overnight.
Though local government offices were closed, Stafford's in-person absentee voting precinct was open. Registrar Greg Riddlemoser said 65 people braved Sandy to cast early votes for the Nov. 6 presidential election.
--Staff writers Katie Thisdell, Jim Hall and Amy Umble contributed to this report.
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