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From Wolf Blitzer Reports staff:

A wind surfer takes advantage of the wind as he passes the Washington Monument on the Potomac River on Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Washington, D.C. is usually a city bustling with traffic, tourists, TV cameras and lawmakers. But today -- it was anything but.

The District is now a virtual ghost town as citizens and visitors prepare for Hurricane Isabel.

The federal government is shut down with only essential personnel required to show up for work.

The Metro subway system is locked up.

Many commuters, some high profile, are relying on Amtrak trains to get them out of town. But those trains are heading only in one direction -- North -- away from Isabel. Former Sen. George Mitchell said, "With the storm coming I was scheduled to leave later today, but I decided to move it up as with everyone else leaving town."

The streets grew increasingly quiet throughout the day.

Shops in fashionable Georgetown closed.

Paddleboats usually full of tourists floated empty -- tied down to weather the storm.

The runway at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland were empty. Even Air Force One moved inland.


There was some activity -- including a few brave -- or foolish -- tourists.

Two young Chilean tourists said their dad was still ready to play outdoors. "He wants to get a kite," the girls said.

Construction crews spent the day building barricades along the Washington Harbor business district.

The owner of Jack's Boathouse on the Potomac finished up his preparations, saying the worst trouble will come after Isabel passes, "There is more anticipation for the real flood, which is two days after the storm, from up river in the mountainous areas."

At the District's Department of Public Works there was a fairly disorganized attempt to hand out free sandbags.

One worker said, "It's coming. I can feel some of the wind now. It's coming. So I'm already prepared for it. I got my candles, and got some flashlights, and my batteries and everything at the house. Got plenty of water and juices. Got plenty of sandbags too. You know I got that. I'm working with them now."

The line of cars stretched as far as the eye can see. Each waiting for the allotted seven half-full sandbags.

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