Heavy rain falling on the already-saturated ground was one of the biggest worries.
People in flood-prone areas moved as much as they could to higher ground as the National Weather Service predicted the Potomac River would spill out of its banks Saturday.
In Hancock, where the Potomac is expected to rise just above flood stage early Saturday, businesses in the low-lying areas of town such as Pittman's Liquor and Sheetz were moving out, Hancock Mayor Daniel Murphy said.
"Those people down there have been through it before," he said. "We're just holding on, hoping everything goes well."
Washington County Commuter buses stopped running at 7:45 p.m. Thursday and were to resume at 8 a.m. today, weather permitting, Bassett said.
Commuter buses and school buses will be used to evacuate people to shelters at North Hagerstown High School and Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. if needed, he said.
Berkeley County Emergency Services Director Steve Allen coordinated a meeting Thursday among state, local and city officials along with National Guard, police and fire officials.
"We have a fairly dangerous situation at hand," Allen said. "Of course, it's the 11th hour but we want to make sure we're prepared."
Division of Highways officials put plows on the front of their trucks to help with debris removal. A contingent of military vehicles, including Humvees, rolled into town to help with post-Isabel efforts, including cleanup and transporting supplies.
Sheriff's deputies will work 12-hour shifts and four divers have been put on alert in case any water rescues are needed. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are gassed up and ready to go, Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster said.
Reserve deputies and Division of Natural Resources officers could help patrol any neighborhoods that need to be evacuated, since state Sen. John Unger said people are less likely to leave if they're worried about looting. For years Unger, D-Berkeley, has helped with relief efforts.
Two hundred extra doses of tetanus vaccine were shipped up from Charleston, W.Va., said Sandra LeMaster of the Berkeley County Health Department.
National Guard officials positioned four search-and-rescue teams throughout the region, including a 10-person team based in Martinsburg, said Barry Macciocca, a hazard mitigation officer from the state Office of Emergency Services.
Darrell Penwell, director of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Services, said he believes the flooding could be close to the levels seen in September 1996.
In that flood, water rose 11.8 feet above flood stage in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., filling buildings in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
"Between the wind and the rain, I think we will have a lot of problems," Penwell told the Jefferson County Commission during a briefing Thursday morning.
If the hurricane produces 3 1/2 inches of rain, there could be minor flooding, Penwell said. If more than 5 inches falls, there could be major flooding, he said.
Because Jefferson County Schools are closed today, rescue workers were able to set up Charles Town Middle School as a Red Cross shelter, said Penwell, adding that there will be cots for about 40 people.
Rescue workers are ready to pump basements that flood and contacts have been set up through the National Guard in case backup help is needed. Plans also have been put into effect to deal with possible power outages, Penwell said.
Chambersburg, Pa., and Waynesboro, Pa., lowered their reservoirs in anticipation of heavy rains from the storm and schools across Franklin County are closed today.
"We've been working at it and it's now down 10 feet below the spillway," Chambersburg Borough Manager Eric Oyer said of the Birch Run Dam, one of the borough's two containments.
"We will have public works personnel monitoring catch basins" and low-lying areas through the night, Oyer said. Crews are ready to block off to traffic any roads that become flooded overnight, he said.
"The emergency plan is in effect and all department heads have, individually and collectively, put their resources together," according to Oyer. He said the borough's emergency operations center was prepared for activation, if necessary.
"We're just preparing like we would for any heavy rain or wind," Waynesboro Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said. Streets and storm drains have been cleared of debris and trucks have been loaded with barricades in case any streets have to be closed.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell declared a state of emergency Thursday and the board of county commissioners declared one for the county, Franklin County Emergency Services Director Jerry Flasher said.
Don Eshleman of Frankin County's emergency management agency said 14 shelters were being opened around the county and manned by the Red Cross in case there were floods, power outages or other problems that forced people from their homes. Most are in fire stations and schools.
Staff writers Don Aines, Candice Bosely and Dave McMillion contributed to this story.