Last Saturday’s rainfall and subsequent flooding deserved the attention it got at this week’s Ocean City Mayor and Council meeting. Although the totals aren’t exactly verified, it appears areas of Ocean City received multiple inches of rain within a short period of time. In fact, according to City Hall, Ocean City received about seven inches of rain in three hours.
Flooding is nothing new to Ocean City. It happens frequently, but most of the time it’s isolated to the downtown area and low-lying bayside region. It’s rare for north Ocean City to be under water to the extent it was last Saturday. It was just too much rain too fast for Ocean City and for that matter any area to handle. Vehicles were completely flooded and needed towing out of trouble. Some lanes of Coastal Highway had about two feet of water on them.
I happened to be in Berlin and Ocean Pines during the heaviest part of the thunderstorms. Standing water was everywhere and there were certain streets that were unpassable in both areas. However, the flooding was nothing like Ocean City experienced.
Ocean City Engineer Terry McGean described the flooding situation in great detail at the council meeting, but he also was wise to keep the matter in perspective. After all, it’s a distant memory today and it happened six days ago. I thought McGean’s summary of the storm and the hydrology was worthy of sharing again.
“The average elevation on Coastal Highway is about six feet above sea level. You need at least one foot of cover over your pipe in order to keep it from being crushed by truck traffic, so that places the top of the pipe at five feet. On the north end of town, the outfalls are farther away from Coastal Highway and there are fewer of them,” he said. “That means we have longer distances to travel to take the water from the highway to the bay which, in turn, means we can’t have as steep a slope on the pipe. … About the biggest pipe we can install at the highway end is 24 inches in diameter and we will double those up to increase capacity. In addition, fewer outfalls means more surface area has to drain to each outfall.”
McGean added, “Our goal is to handle rainfall from a 10-year storm, or a storm that has a 10-percent chance of occurring in any given year. In our area, that equates to about one inch per hour during a three-hour storm duration, and quite frankly, we struggle to achieve even that and don’t at high tide. Rain gauges in the north end of Ocean City registered seven inches in three hours on Saturday. … Flooding occurred all over Worcester County and lower Delaware. Route 54 was closed for a period of time, as was Route 1 and Coastal Highway, but no one was killed or severely injured and no buildings were destroyed.”
Social media is always entertaining. On Tuesday at 8 p.m., minutes after the accident occurred, I posted a photo on the newspaper’s Facebook page of the Mercedes that plowed into the front of the 7-Eleven on 139th Street and Coastal Highway. It was captured by Andrew Seaman before police had arrived. It’s on page 10 in the paper.
The photo went viral immediately and reached more than 100,000 people online in less than an hour. As of Thursday afternoon, the reached had grown to 650,000 with more than 31,000 reactions, comments and shares.
As far as the more than 9,567 comments, there was a lot of diverse thoughts expressed. There were some heated arguments and some hilarious observations and memes. To take a look at those, head on over to Facebook and search The Dispatch. You will be entertained.
Despite getting key facts incorrect routinely, The Baltimore Sun continues to blast Ocean City for its position on the wind farm distance from shore. This week it was columnist Dan Rodricks who derided Ocean City in a similar fashion to recent opinion pieces.
“I appreciate the possibility that people who patronize Big Pecker’s Bar and Grill and Brass Balls Saloon might cringe at seeing white twirly-sticks on the ocean’s horizon. Indeed, wind power might be a tough sell to people who go to Ocean City to relax, relish the sunrise and buy T-shirts with crude expressions.
“But surely they can be convinced of the benefits.
“Alas, the mayor and city council have not taken the lead on this. They want the wind farm developer to push his plan 30 miles offshore, a move that would send the process of planning and federal approvals back eight years.
“I say this to Ocean City: Never make a problem out of an opportunity.
“You have a chance to embrace the future while benefiting from the growth of a new, increasingly popular sector of the American economy.”
Once again, I encourage The Baltimore Sun to focus on its metropolitan troubles and news stories rather than a couple times a month spotlight random Ocean City stories, especially if the facts are going to continue to be missing from the copy.