Sandy: How bad could it be?

(CBS News) So just how worried should East Coast residents be about Hurricane Sandy?

East Coast prepares for Hurricane Sandy
Megastorm leaves 43 dead in its wake

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan hasn't ordered an evacuation yet, but wants everyone ready just in case.

"We are telling people to get prepared, go through your check list, make sure you have all your supplies," he said.

Sandy is expected to hit the most densely populated area in the U.S. 64 million people -- about one in five Americans -- potentially lie in the storm's path. Last year Hurricane Irene caused a loss of power for more than six million households in this region -- this time even more could be left in the dark.

"When you're facing 50-60 mile-per-hour winds with all the leaves still on the trees and a soaking rain for a long period of time, were going to see trees come over," said Ralph LaRossa, president of PSE&G.

Up and down the eastern seaboard more than 20,000 utility workers are standing by to turn the power back on.

Five refineries along the threatened East Coast, that produce seven percent of the nation's gasoline, are expected to suspend operations as early as Sunday. That could put upward pressure on the price of gas.

The storm is even affecting the presidential campaign -- parts of three battleground states -- North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio -- are directly in Sandy's path.

Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Mitt Romney have already cancelled scheduled events in Virginia. And both campaigns are also worried that the storm could hurt affect early voting in those battleground states.

To watch Chip Reid's full report, click on the video above.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.