Being in a coastal area, storms are nothing new to us who call this area home. However, last Saturday’s string of thunderstorms was unlike anything I have ever seen, particularly for those of us who live in Berlin.
It was known a string of serious thunderstorms were coming this way most of Saturday, a cloudy, rainy day itself, but there was never any mention that the storms would pound Berlin for about seven hours, beginning around 5 p.m. and lasting till midnight and leaving flooded streets, yards, garages, basements and living rooms behind and a few close calls on the personal livelihood front.
It was far worse than any hurricane or tropical storm I have experienced. I was living in Salisbury during Hurricane Gloria so I can’t speak to its extent with accuracy. The only true comparison I can make is to the back-to-back Nor’easters that hit Ocean City back in 2001. Ocean City residents will remember them well. It was late January and early February, and each storm was as destructive as the other. However, it was the second one that was a shot below the belt because it came during the recovery from the first storm.
I was living over the bay at 7th Street and Edgewater Ave. at the time, and I remember it well because I lost a car in those storms. As we all know around here, the devastating thing about Nor’easters, or coastal lows as they are often called, is they linger and punish for days. That’s why many locals say they are worse than fast-moving hurricanes.
The first Nor’easter was bad enough, packing powerful winds, way too much rain and causing severe flooding at all tides, but high tides were particularly fearful.
Because Edgewater Ave. floods during modest rainfalls and particularly in storms, I parked my old Mazda 626 in the parking lot across from the former Bailey’s Pharmacy and walked home the night before the storm was expected to be at its worst. It was a good thing because the bay easily covered Philadelphia Ave. during that storm and the ocean slammed the Boardwalk and parts of Baltimore Ave.
Once that storm had moved on, and the cleanup continued, a few days later another coastal low developed, shocking property owners who had just begun to recover. Probably a result of my young age, I wrongly figured the second storm could not be as powerful as its predecessor. My immaturity told me out of fairness it couldn’t be as severe. Therefore, I parked my car along Edgewater Ave. during the storm. I was wrong, as my vehicle was nearly covered by flood waters and ultimately damaged beyond its value.
What made that week so unfair was the relentless pounding and its back-to-back nature. I got to thinking about that storm this week, as I dealt with some major damage at my home at the hands of the wicked set of thunderstorms that easily dumped more than a foot of rain on Berlin, my hometown now.
It’s no secret Berlin is prone to flood, but last weekend’s storm, which moved from south to north at a snail’s pace, has nothing to do with that penchant. No town or city could have withstood the onslaught that was delivered that day and night.
Some folks lost all they had. My family and I lost a hot water heater, an oil-fired boiler and some special and sentimental keepsakes as well as other damage. I was lucky, considering some of the other stories I heard this week.
I really got to thinking about those back-to-back Nor’easters first thing Sunday morning during the cleanup operation that involved a generator, a sump pump and a trusty local business (OC Comfort Services, Inc.) that came to my aid. More severe thunderstorms were being predicted for Sunday, even before power was restored, and I feared more intense street flooding was to come and further damage inevitable.
Fortunately, those storms traveled from to our west and we were spared. We were lucky, which I know seems impossible to some right now.
However, there were no tragedies or serious injuries reported. There was no loss of human life that has been reported as a result of the storm. Sure, many of us are facing hefty bills as a result of the damage to our homes or vehicles that will not be covered by insurance, but we are lucky. That was a freak storm I will never forget, but I also know we were all fortunate it was not worse. That’s what I keep reminding myself.