OCEAN CITY- Heavy seas, gale force winds and high tides inundated the resort area early this week, flooding streets, ripping the roofs and signs off buildings, knocking the power out for thousands and causing evacuations in some coastal areas nearby.
If May is National Hurricane Awareness Month, the rare May Nor’easter that lashed the mid-Atlantic area on Sunday and Monday certainly illustrated the need for the occasion. The storm began early Sunday evening with winds gusting and heavy rains falling and continued overnight and into Monday with surging tides, vast power outages and flooded streets, providing an extreme glimpse of the forces of nature. Old timers are fond of saying Nor’easters are typically more brutal in the resort area than hurricanes, and the storm this week certainly seemed to prove it.
By Monday morning, power was out across much of the region including West Ocean City and Berlin. The power did stay on in Ocean City itself, but the resort looked like a disaster zone. Bulldozers frantically pushed sand from the Inlet parking lot and the Boardwalk while the high winds and heavy surf continued to deposit it back. Sand piled up like snow drifts along the seawall, buildings and other structures.
Roof shingles, downed tree branches, pieces of business signs and trash barrels blew down Coastal Highway wreaking havoc on mid-morning traffic on Monday as fire trucks and police cars zoomed from one crisis to the next. By high tide late Monday afternoon, much of the downtown area was under several feet of water with roads closed from Philadelphia Ave. west to the bay including St. Louis Ave.
Around mid-day on Monday, the Coast Guard received a distress call about a large sailboat that had run aground off the coast of Ocean City at 10th Street. A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Ocean City and a Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City responded and pulled the reluctant sailor, identified as Robert Pollak of Sayville, N.Y., from the foundering vessel. According to reports, Pollak at first refused assistance from the Coast Guard, but was later hoisted from the vessel by helicopter and deposited safely on the ground at the Ocean City Airport.
Another mariner was not as lucky. Earlier on Monday morning, the 70-foot research vessel “Russell W. Peterson” foundered off the coast of Bethany Beach just up Route 1 in Delaware, and despite the Coast Guard’s best efforts to reach the vessel, an unidentified crewman perished in the storm.