OCEAN CITY — Ocean City officials were preparing for the worst and hoping for the best last weekend as Tropical Storm Hermine made its way up the coast, but despite some of the ominous predictions, there was little impact on the resort apart from some minor beach erosion and typical flooding in some of the downtown areas.
Hermine reached hurricane status as it ripped across Florida last week and began its unusual trek up the east coast, raising serious concerns about its potential impact on Labor Day weekend in Ocean City. The powerful storm did churn well off the mid-Atlantic coast, producing huge waves and tidal surges, but there was little in the way of rain and the winds never did reach predicted speeds at least in Ocean City.
City Engineer Doug Miller said this week Ocean City mobilized its emergency response teams in advance of the storm, but it passed without a major impact on the resort.
“The impacts of the tropical storm were minimal,” he said. “We were well prepared even though it didn’t materialize for us the way it could have. We were prepared for the worst and hoped for the best, and thankfully we got the better part of that.”
Mayor Rick Meehan agreed with Miller’s assessment of the storm. Meehan said during Tuesday’s council meeting resort emergency services officials were monitoring the predicted models that showed significant storm surges in Ocean City over the course of several high tide cycles, but the worst never came.
“We were very fortunate,” he said. “The predictions had our surge levels much higher. There was a point where we were looking at possible surge levels that could approach Sandy.”
Nonetheless, Meehan said Ocean City followed its emergency preparedness protocols and made the appropriate decisions.
“We did all the right things,” he said. “We closed the beach for swimming and we closed the beach parking lots. I think we did a great job in getting the word out and we need to thank the citizens because they really heeded the message.”
Meehan said despite the storm, most resort businesses enjoyed a decent holiday weekend. Anecdotally, traffic was heavy through much of the weekend and businesses appeared to be thriving for the most part. Aside from some heavy rain and high winds early Saturday morning, it was clear and sunny through much of the weekend.
“It was a solid weekend,” said Meehan. “About 80 percent of the people were already here on Friday when the storm arrived and most stayed and rode it out.”
City Engineer Terry McGean rode the length of the Ocean City beach on Tuesday with Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Justin Callahan to survey the damage from the storm and found few impacts apart from a couple of known trouble spots.
“Overall, the beach looks very good,” he said. “We have some isolated areas with moderate beach erosion, primarily around 48th Street, 81st Street and 120th Street, but there is no damage to the dune.”
McGean said Ocean City was fortunate Tropical Storm Hermine did not follow many of the predicted models. Ocean City is still repairing the damage to the beaches and dune system caused by Winter Storm Jonas earlier this year, but McGean said no supplemental funding or emergency repairs would be needed after Hermine.
“We got lucky and dodged a bullet with this storm,” he said. “I do not expect to be requesting any additional funding or repairs beyond what we are already requesting due to Jonas.”
Meehan said the storm served as a reminder of the importance of continually fortifying the dune system.
“This was another reminder of how important beach replenishment is,” he said. “We’ve already been in contact with Senator Cardin and Congressman Harris to make sure that federal commitment is continued.”