Socked by Sandy
BERLIN/OCEAN PINES – Despite heavy winds and rainfall from Hurricane Sandy throughout Monday evening, Ocean Pines and Berlin officials say there were no reports of significant structural damage or injury as a result of the storm.
"We dodged a bullet on this one," said Mike Gibbons, public works director of Berlin, who reported that his department worked overnight to ensure roads were clear of debris for emergency vehicles.
As of Tuesday morning, Berlin Public Works employees picked up the last remaining fallen limbs and trees, and Gibbons said no properties or commercial buildings were severely damaged.
The same goes for Ocean Pines, as Eddie Wells, director of Ocean Pines Public Works, said he heard of no serious wind damage or fallen debris at residential properties or association facilities.
Ocean Pines Public Works employees also worked overnight to clear debris and about six trees that fell over Ocean Parkway. Wells said all roads have been clear since Tuesday morning.
"The biggest problem was tidal flooding," he said.
Worcester County issued a mandatory evacuation for waterfront properties before the storm. Waterfront properties were in danger of flooding as it was, but Monday's full moon was expected to bring a more significant high tide than usual.
Flooding was severe in some areas close to the water, as many docks were completely under water and small parts of Ocean Parkway, such as an area of the bike lane near Wood Duck Isle, were submerged.
Still, Wells said he had not heard any reports of significant flood damage in Ocean Pines.
In Berlin, a lot of flooding occurred, but the water level was not nearly as high as the storm in August that damaged several households and totaled numerous vehicles, according to Town Administrator Tony Carson.
The storm did cause between 500 and 600 homes in Berlin to lose power, but the outage lasted only about two hours.
Tim Lawrence, electric utility director of Berlin, said two power poles broke during the storm, but the department quickly tied two temporary poles to the malfunctioning units that allowed power to resume in the area.
According to Lawrence, one home was out of power all Monday night, but power on that property was restored Tuesday morning.
Lt. Greg Schoepf of the Ocean Pines Police Department said not one property that lost power during the storm.
Chief Arnold Downing of the Berlin Police Department said there were not even any reports of injury, let alone deaths, as a result of the storm.
"Citizens heeded the word and stayed inside, and we're thankful for that," Downing said.
He said that more than 300 residents in the area took refuge in the several public buildings that were closed by Worcester County to provide shelter while Hurricane Sandy hit the coast. Stephen Decatur Middle School and High School, Snow Hill High School, Pocomoke High School and the Worcester County Animal Control building were all open to the public.
Worcester County lifted the mandatory evacuation of waterfront properties on Tuesday morning, and the Ocean Pines Association is in process of assessing damage in the community.
A notice on the OPA Web site said residents can bring yard debris deposited by the storm to the Public Works building behind the south gate Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department.
Gibbons said there would be no immediate debris pickup in Berlin, but a date has been set for Dec. 5 and 12, when the town will pick up yard debris such as branches, grass clippings and leaves.
In all, officials of both Ocean Pines and Berlin officials commended the overnight effort of their employees to ensure minimal damage during Hurricane Sandy's wrath.
"It's amazing to me there were no human losses, no lost electricity or any serious problems," Schoepf said.
"We had people here all day and night, and all departments did a great job," Carson said.