For Hurricane Decisions
Being in Ocean City while Hurricane Irene was creeping north up the coast was an unforgettable experience. I heeded the mayor’s request to evacuate early Friday morning and I am glad that I did so. It was a very intense time, and upon reflecting back on the events of the natural disaster, there will be three main things I will take away from the experience. They are:
Troubling times bring out the best in people. It was heart-warming to know that friends, both old and new, were reaching out to lend a hand. As anyone who is familiar with downtown knows, a normal rain could bring flood-like conditions. On this specific trip, I was on my motorcycle, and dreaded to think of what would happen to my bike with the arrival of Irene. To my delight, many people reached out to offer assistance and advice to help me protect my special summer transportation during the storm. Sam, George, Spaz, Brenda, Chris, Jim, and Dick were among the many who offered refuge in their garages or other safe places on high and dry ground. I would like to thank each and every one of them.
It is time to stop bashing the workers in the public sector. Upon vacating the island early on Friday during the evacuation, I was caught up in a sea of traffic of folks that were heading out of town for their safety. License plates from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York could be seen. Many vehicles contained vacationing families who were sad to see their week cut short. Others, like me, were condo owners that feared the worst and wondered what type of destruction and insurance headaches may lie ahead. While the traffic was heavy heading out of town, the same could not be said for east bound traffic. The majority of vehicles I saw in this direction were convoys of Maryland State Department of Transportation workers, and other emergency personnel who were arriving to help limit the effects of the catastrophes caused by Irene. In recent years, it seems to have become fashionable to blame workers in the public sector for being under worked and over paid. I really appreciate the efforts of these folks and am glad they do the job they do. It is time that we all recognize their heroic efforts and I hope that second thought will be given before bashing them in the future. This includes some on our town council who continuously seek to reduce the compensation and benefit packages of those who serve our community so proudly.
The town we all love so much is one natural disaster away from being forever changed. I have been through several Nor’easters and tropical storms through the years while in Ocean City. Some were a bit frightening, but in most every case the real fear of death and destruction was absent. This is even true for Hurricane Gloria back in 1985.
To me, Irene was quite different. With talks of storm surges of six feet, and 12 inches of rain, she was to be taken seriously. It was an eerie feeling to see places such as Souvenir City, Candy Kitchen, Cork Bar and even 7-Eleven boarded up with plywood. While I guess I always knew it, I was reminded that we are one storm away from having the island so many of us call the home away from home forever altered.
While we dodged the bullet this time, it is important that in the future, we all again listen to the professionals and evacuate if we are asked to do so. Let’s not any of us be lulled into a sense of invincibility and think that we are immune from hurricanes. It will always be better to be upset that we had to leave when nothing happened, then to ignore evacuation orders and to later wish that we would have left if and when the big one finally comes.
M. Scott Chismar
Lake View, N.Y.
National Guard At Depot?
Have things become so unstable in Berlin/Ocean City/Ocean Pines that it’s necessary for Home Depot to post armed guards at the local store?
Have there been incidents in the past which would make the management feel it was necessary to take such a precaution in anticipation of a hurricane?
I found it rather chilling while shopping on Monday, a full day after all threats from Irene were over, to encounter a uniformed security person with a military-type weapon slung over his shoulder. When I called the store and asked why an armed guard was there, I was told it was for the safety of the customers. Really? Is this the wave of the future?
Mathias A Symbol Of Hope Editor:
It has been said through poetry and prose that "when I am old, I will wear purple". We would like to suggest that we not wait until we are old, but that instead we plan to wear purple — and pink, for that matter — as often as possible in recognition and remembrance of Kathy Mathias.
Purple is the color of hope and also the color most commonly associated with Relay For Life, the signature event of The American Cancer Society. Kathy circled the track at the North Worcester Relay year after year, and with each step she inspired others to celebrate, remember and fight back. And I am not sure about your dictionary but mine has a picture of Kathy’s smiling face right next to the word pink, as her work with the Pink Ribbon Classic in Ocean City is unparalleled. This series of activities and events used to promote awareness and fight against breast cancer would not be what it is today without her vision and leadership.
Having had the privilege of working with Kathy in recent years through our service to The American Cancer Society, I came to know her as a steady force of positive energy and eternal optimism. Her history with the organization dates back to her presence and involvement as one of the founding members of the American Cancer Society Board of Directors in Worcester County.
She was a survivor’s survivor, if you will. She walked the walk and talked the talk with pride, dignity and hope. She maintained a positive attitude and remained eternally grateful for the love and support of her family and friends every step of the way. She made sure she was doing everything within her power to improve quality of life and quantity of days for herself and others by being proactive – participating in clinical trials, speaking to groups and individuals on behalf of the American Cancer Society, and making the commitment to fight hard, especially in the fight against breast cancer.
Kathy Mathias will be missed. But there is no doubt she will be remembered with great fondness and admiration. She was someone who made a difference because it was the right thing to do. She cared little about the recognition and completely focused on outcomes. She believed in the power of research, education and in the mission of our American Cancer Society. She was a “do-er” and she was the first to sign up when she felt she had something to offer to a program, an event or a cause.
Her legacy will live on through Senator Mathias’s public service and the giving and caring spirits of both Lauren and Trevor. We thank them for sharing her with us and for allowing us to be part of her journey. To her entire family we extend our heartfelt condolences and we give thanks for the privilege of knowing her, working with her, supporting her and having her believe in us.
So again on behalf of the volunteers and staff of The American Cancer Society, let us not wait until we are “old” to wear purple (or pink) but instead let us remember Kathy when we walk the Relay For Life donning the color of hope, engage in the fight against breast cancer sporting all the pink we can find and carry on striving to eliminate cancer in our world in loving memory of a woman who touched so many lives, just because she could.
Rosemary M. Thomas
Impressed By Cleanup
I have been a homeowner in Berlin for over 16 years. I love this town and close to the top of the very long list of reasons I love Berlin is our awesome Stephen Decatur Park.
I chose my first home 16 years ago when my children were very young, due to its proximity to this beautiful clean space full of trees and clean safe playground equipment. My children are now grown adults yet I continue to enjoy this park almost daily. I particularly enjoy the jogging path that was added last year. It was a welcomed incentive to get reacquainted with the lost jogger in me.
This past Monday, after Hurricane Irene had safely passed, I ventured out for my morning run. The park was a mess. There were downed trees, big branches and debris covering the paths to the point where it was hard to see the path at all in many places. I and my fellow morning park goers were commenting as we passed each other how it was going to take what we estimated to be weeks for the park to be back to its normal pristine state. We all were doing our best to clear the path as we walked and ran. No one complained as we knew there were other jobs our hard working park and town maintenance workers were sure to be doing after the storm.
Today, Wednesday, I returned to Stephen Decatur Park to run around and over the trees and branches that I was expecting to find still there. To my amazement the park was beautiful. Completely clear of all broken tree limbs, downed trees and all the debris that hinder us just 24 hours earlier. So I wanted to write this letter to express my sincere gratitude to the amazing group of men that take such great care of our beloved Berlin. I regard these guys as my friends and neighbors and it is evident from the care they take in our town that they love it, too. Thank you.
Support For Beach Ban
After reading the letter in last week’s edition regarding a resident’s expressing her and her family’s supporting the banning of smoking on Ocean City beaches, I felt compelled to write in support of the idea.
In addition to breathing in second hand smoke from those who are smoking on the beach, there is also the problem of cigarette butts being extinguished and left on our beaches. I think it’s fair to say that by far, most people who do smoke on our beaches do not use ashtrays or any other good receptacles to collect smoking materials and discard them but rather bury them in the sand for someone else to clean up.
I have been living in Ocean City year-round for seven years and for the past couple of years, I have volunteered my own time to frequently walk up and down my side street with a broom and dustpan and I’d say that at least 90% of what I sweep up is cigarette butts.
I realize that there is the factor of tourism. We want people to continue to come and enjoy Ocean City and our beaches and those who do smoke have the legal right to do so. Since smoking has already been banned in all public places indoors, I think that the next "baby step" if you will, would be for the Town of Ocean City to seriously consider banning smoking on our beaches.
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, was a stunningly beautiful fall morning that belied the horror and tragedy that would befall our country. It was on that morning that we suffered an unprecedented attack that forever changed our nation.
Congress has designated September 11th as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance and there will be a Moment of Remembrance at 1 p.m. in which first responders, houses of worship, towns and others will ring bells and sound sirens.
As we come together as a nation to mark the 10th anniversary of that attack, we remember the more than 3,000 people who perished on 9/11. We also remember and honor the selfless actions of our first responders, including firefighters, police, paramedics and other emergency and medical personnel, who demonstrated extraordinary bravery and courage in our hour of need.
Much has changed in our nation since that day in September. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration focused on securing cockpits to prevent terrorist from gaining access. We now have air marshals on many domestic and international flights and every American knows that al-Qaeda and its supporters want to destroy our way of life. The establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was a result of the attacks and we have all come to live with increased security at airports, government buildings and other public facilities.
Ten years later, we can be grateful that the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, has finally been brought to justice. His death is an important milestone in the fight against global terrorism and a relief to the millions of Americans and others around the world who have suffered from the actions of al Qaeda. We still mourn the lives that were lost, but remain united in our resolve to defend our nation and protect it from those who want to do us harm.
As we remember the victims of 9/11 on this 10th anniversary, I also want to take a moment to honor the men and women in our Armed Forces who work every day to protect us from terrorists who want to destroy our way of life. Our nation is truly fortunate for the first responders and soldiers who have dedicated their lives to making us safer so we do not experience another 9/11.
U.S Sen. Ben Cardin