OCEAN CITY – Ocean City officials say they are less concerned with Hurricane Joaquin and more concerned with flooding and the prolonged impacts of the next few high tide cycles in the resort.
At a press conference earlier this morning at the city’s Public Safety Building in mid-town Ocean City, Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald stressed that even though Hurricane Joaquin has trended out to sea, thusly taking the Eastern Seaboard out of the proverbial “cone of uncertainty,” the city is still bracing for a significant water event.
“What we face now is moderate to severe flooding over the next few days, probably until Monday,” said Theobald. “The hurricane is not the issue at this point, the issue is what we are facing now that is.”
Common sense and precaution was the message from both Theobald and Mayor Rick Meehan, who outlined current areas that are vulnerable to or experiencing flooding at this hour, particularly the downtown portion of the resort.
“Locals know where it floods downtown, and we implore people to use their better judgement and stay away from those areas”, said Theobald, “don’t try and drive through standing water and we urge everyone to use common sense.”
The biggest concern is the high tide cycles, which as of noon today, would likely push water levels to what they were during Superstorm Sandy, according to Theobald.
“There will be a few feet of water in those areas that are most susceptible to flooding”, he said.
Despite Joaquin’s new and perhaps less concerning track, the city has its EOC (Emergency Operations Center) open 24 hours a day, and will be monitor water levels and potential issues. Meehan stressed the prolonged impact of the storm over several days could prove a challenge.
“We are going to feel the effects of this storm for longer than we did during Sandy. We don’t want anyone to think that what we are dealing with right now is because of Hurricane Joaquin because it’s not”, said Meehan. “This storm will pass and then we’ll feel the effects of Hurricane Joaquin.”
The city will go through about 10 high tide cycles during these two storms, and that will create a lot of water that seemingly has nowhere to go.
The city has closed the beach, the inlet parking lot, and are bracing for significant beach erosion over the next several days.
“We don’t expect things to change for the next few days,” said Meehan. “Don’t get lulled to sleep after a few high tides, because we will feel the effects of numerous high tides. We will not lose our focus.”
Wind gusts are expected to reach 50 mph over the course of the next few days, and sustained winds could reach 35 mph.
“To have two different storms back to back always causes problems,” said Meehan, “instead of a two- or three-day event, this one will be more like five or six days.”