OCEAN CITY – Gov. Martin O’Malley came to Ocean City on Wednesday to take in the town after Hurricane Sandy.
As Mayor Rick Meehan, State Senator Jim Mathias and the governor, among others, strolled the Boardwalk they talked about how the beach replenishment project in Ocean City conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saved Ocean City’s Boardwalk.
“It is great to see the Boardwalk totally in place,” O’Malley said. “The mayor was just explaining to me some of the benefits you get from the beach replenishment, it is a big investment but it is also an investment that certainly paid off in this storm.”
Meehan looked back 1985’s Hurricane Gloria, a storm that destroyed the entire Boardwalk and caused significant damage throughout the resort.
Since the beach replenishment project was launched in 1991 when the Corps of Engineers designed a sea wall, sand dunes as well as widened and lengthened the beach to prevent damage during storms, there has been minimal damage to Ocean City’s Boardwalk.
“During this storm, we had no damage to the Boardwalk and very little if any minor damage to properties along the Boardwalk,” Meehan said. “That is proof that the beach replenishment project was a good investment by the federal government, state and the local area here in Ocean City.”
The mayor furthered that there was a team with the Corps of Engineers in Ocean City that day surveying the damage to the beach with a report to follow.
“If you ever want to see an advertisement for why we do beach replenishment this is it,” O’Malley said. “If it hadn’t been for the beach replenishment work done, you wouldn’t have a Boardwalk here to walk on.”
The governor arrived in Ocean City by helicopter taking in a view of the beach and Boardwalk before he landed. He acknowledged the loss of the end portion of the pier.
“We lost of a little over 100 feet out there,” the mayor said. “The ocean was angry and it was high surf that caused the loss of a couple of pilings but it is something that can be fixed.”
During his loop around downtown, the governor said he was thankful to see the island still here.
“The beach and Ocean City looked great,” he said. “It was a beautiful sight … looking at that approaching storm and now to be able to come over on a nice day like this to see the city intact and holding up very well is just a beautiful sight.
Earlier in the day, O’Malley met with Crisfield Mayor Percy Purnell to tour the damage and visit displaced residents.
“Crisfield really got walloped,” he said. “They have a lot of people that are still in shelters there … we want to get everybody out of that shelter and into some kind of housing again.”
O’Malley reported that damage assessments across the state are still under way. However, during the peak of Hurricane Sandy there were over 350,000 residents that lost power.
“We were able to get a lot of that power restored very quickly, some of that has to do with the better preventive maintenance and the utilities in the Washington area,” he said.
O’Malley said Maryland was on the weaker side of the storm as the eye of the hurricane passed over the state’s northeast corner.
“We were very fortunate in this storm and our hearts go out to our neighbors in New Jersey and in New York,” he said.
O’Malley furthered that as work is being completed in Maryland FEMA is re-deploying their assets to the north to better assist that area.
“As you look at this beautiful day and you look at Ocean City we just all have to say a prayer of thanks that we were able to dodge this cannon ball without taking anything away from how well all of the first responders handled it,” he said.