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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.