Major Flooding In Worcester As Some Roads Damaged

Major Flooding In Worcester As Some Roads Damaged

BERLIN – Worcester County continues to deal with flooding following a second weekend of heavy rainfall.

Though Hurricane Matthew primarily impacted the Southeast, the steady rain that fell Saturday and Sunday exacerbated the condition of already waterlogged areas throughout Worcester County. As of Tuesday, standing water continued to cause road closures.

“If a road has barricades or barrels across it residents need to turn around and find an alternate route to get to their destination,” said Worcester County Emergency Services Director Fred Webster.

Webster said drivers who failed to obey road closures created issues throughout the weekend. He said that even once state and county crews had posted barricades, motorists continued to travel on flooded roads.

“Some residents would move the barricades and barrels out of their way,” he said. “Cars and trucks would then drive through the water and become flooded out, requiring fire department rescue crews to go into those same areas to rescue the drivers. This then put the fire crews in danger because of having to get the drivers out of the stranded vehicles.”

While some roads were covered with standing water, others experienced wash-outs. According to Webster Sinepuxent Road, Big Mill Road, Route 12 and Route 113 had sections of road wash-out.

Most have been repaired but Route 12, which was damaged during the Sept. 30 rain, remains closed, as does Big Mill Road (from Swan Gut to Silva Road) near Stockton. Webster said those roads would take longer to repair because of the amount of damage they sustained.

County officials have posted alternate travel routes for motorists who would normally travel Route 12 between Snow Hill and Salisbury online at

In Berlin, because of the advance warning associated with Hurricane Matthew, officials said the town fared well. According to Jane Kreiter, the town’s director of public works and water resources, pumps were set up in areas of the town prone to flooding and residents were even provided with the opportunity to pick up sandbags.

“We were able to have time to prepare,” Kreiter said.

She said pumps were used near the townhomes on William Street and near the culvert on Flower Street. Both areas are scheduled for future infrastructure improvements through the town’s stormwater program as they tend to flood during any significant rainfall.

She credited town staff with working around the clock to monitor the situation and equipment.

“It’s a real juggling act,” she said.

According to Kreiter, during the storm the town’s wastewater treatment plant processed about 1.5 million gallons of water. It typically handles 400,000 gallons a day.

“Needless to say we were busy,” she said.

She said the town did have a small overflow of about 200 gallons from the effluent tank, which holds treated wastewater before it’s sent to the town’s spray site.

“It was very minimal,” Kreiter said, “but in our minds it’s unacceptable and we will try to work harder next time.”

Overall she said hurricane-related flooding was kept to a minimum in Berlin.

“We didn’t have nearly the amount of flooding we did have the weekend before when those rains showed up virtually out of nowhere,” she said.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of prep time. It really wasn’t in the forecast to get that much rain in such a short time.”

The town is still in the process of repairing damage from that Sept. 30 flooding. In spite of pumps that were in place and running, standing water in the power plant caused more than $50,000-worth of damage to a generator turbine.

Town officials praised Kreiter and her staff for working overtime throughout the weekend.

“Let the folks know how much we appreciate the effort they routinely put forth in these crises,” Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.