(Staff Writer Charlene Sharpe contributed to this article.)
OCEAN CITY – As a wet and windy weekend came to an end, the overwhelming consensus in and around the region seems to be ‘another storm, another bullet dodged.’
Town officials worked around the clock all weekend through heavy rains, wind and tidal flooding, but despite forecasts that predicted flood waters could reach levels that haven’t been seen since Superstorm Sandy, that was fortunately not the case.
“The flooding, although an issue, turned out to be about a foot less than they projected,” said Ocean City Engineer Terry McGean. “That’s a big deal seeing as how flat we are downtown, so while we saw flooding, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, and certainly not as bad as during Sandy.”
Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins likened the task to trying to dig out of a snowstorm that’s still ongoing.
“It was a long and wet weekend, but it went better than we expected,” said Adkins. “It’s like trying to plow your driveway when it’s still snowing heavily. You know you’ll have cleanup at the end, but you have to stay in front of it.”
Teams of city workers pulled 12-hour shifts at a time moving sand and debris, assisting police and EMS, and blockading certain portions of the city when necessary.
Jim Smith of Delmarva Power and Control Inc. confirmed the power was cut only once during the storm on Friday afternoon.
Beach erosion was visible even before the full effects of the Nor’easter were felt, but McGean believes the erosion will not merit emergency replenishment of the beaches.
“It’s still a little too early to tell, but I think the beach is going to be okay,” said McGean. “We have no damage to the dune and we were helped by the scheduled beach replenishment that was done in 2014.”
Still, remnants of the storm’s impact are visible around the resort, including debris, downed signage, and mounds of sand that resemble snowdrifts that, in some portions of the Boardwalk, rendered it impassable.
However, the wind direction during the brunt of the storm, a north wind, rather than winds blowing from the east, helped spare the Inlet parking lot largely from much of the sand accumulation.
“We are out there in full force cleaning up the town from what the storm left behind,” said Adkins, “but the wind direction definitely helped us out, especially since we are trying to clean up and get out of the Inlet space in anticipation of the endless summer Cruisin’ car event happening there this coming weekend. But, I keep telling our guys, the sun is going to come out at some point and life will get back to normal.”
Normal working days might be a few days away for McGean and Adkins and other city workers, but both men share in the sentiment that the resort “dodged another bullet with this storm.”
Officials in Berlin said the town fared well in spite of initial predictions.
“We did better than expected considering the potential,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said. “We had no significant flooding, no significant damage.”
The town did go into the weekend well prepared however. Storm drains were cleaned and pumps were set up off Flower Street and William Street in case of flooding. In addition, municipal officials went a step further and offered free sand bags to Berlin residents.
“That is something that for major storms will become standard operating procedure,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “It’s another service we feel we can provide.”
Allen said the town had a supply of 1,000 sand bags, 500 of which were filled. Roughly 350 of those were picked up by residents. The rest will be stored until the town’s next potential flooding event.
“We’re stocked up and ready to go for next time,” Allen said.
She added that the sand bags provided residents with a way to prepare their properties in advance of the storm.
“It enables you to assess your own home and take steps,” she said.
In Ocean Pines, officials said they were lucky to see little significant damage from the storm. According to Teresa Travatello, marketing director for the Ocean Pines Association, tidal flooding was the biggest issue. She said the community saw just under three inches of rain and crews moved six trees that had fallen across roadways in the Pines.
Coastal flood warnings and possible tidal swells prompted school system officials to close Worcester County’s public schools on Friday.
“The process for determining school delays and/or closure is made by monitoring our roadways and the weather conditions/forecasts in partnership with local law enforcement and emergency services personnel,” said Carrie Sterrs, the school system’s coordinator of public relations. “A variety of information is gathered from across the county to decide the best course of action in keeping our students and staff safe during times of inclement weather. The safety of our students and staff is paramount.”
The school system issued an additional alert Sunday after a technical glitch on a local television station.
“For a brief time, the school closings ticker was incorrectly running that we would also be closed today,” Sterrs said Monday. “Although the station’s team corrected their mistake, we wanted to ensure that our students, staff and their families had accurate information regarding today’s regular operating schedule.”