Reporting Mike Hellgren
OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ/AP)– Evacuations south of Ocean City have already begun. Officials are particularly worried about high water and the storm surge. They expect downtown Ocean City to be under water on Monday as Hurricane Sandy heads for the Delmarva Peninsula.
As night fell, ferocious waves lashed coastal Maryland with Ocean City calling for a mandatory evacuation of its vulnerable downtown. Residents must leave the area south of 17th Street by 8 p.m. Sunday.
In addition, a voluntary evacuation order has been issued for residents and occupants of known low-lying areas.
The town says severe flooding is expected.
Worcester County is expected to open shelters beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday. The town of Ocean City will use its buses to transport people with special needs to shelters; service will start at 1 p.m. from the Convention Center.
With Hurricane Sandy’s arrival approaching, the Town of Ocean City is implanting Phase II of the Emergency Evacuation Plan. Due to the severe flooding which is expected during the storm, a mandatory evacuation of all residents in the downtown area (south of 17th Street) has been issued and is effective immediately. All residents in these areas must evacuate before 8 p.m. Sunday. In addition, a voluntary evacuation order is in place for residents and occupants of known low lying areas.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan has declared a local State of Emergency, issuing an order to close the beach to all persons until further notices. In addition, the inlet lot will be closed beginning at 5 p.m. and will not reopen for the duration of the storm, which is expected to last two to three days.
Worcester County is expected to open shelters beginning at 1 p.m. The Town of Ocean City will utilize the municipal transportation system for relocation of people with special needs and will provide a pick-up location at the Convention Center to relocate people to the designated shelters beginning at 1 p.m.
During the storm, the Town of Ocean City will be posting storm related information on various websites, social media outlets, through the GovDelivery system and the television access channel. Citizens are asked to tune into Ocean City’s Government Access Channel (4 & 15) for further detailed information or advisories. To subscribe to GovDelivery, visit the “City Wide Alerts” tab on the Town of Ocean City’s website at http://oceancitymd.gov.
Mike Hellgren has more from Ocean City officials on some of the plans being activated.
While signed urged Sandy to be kind, she seemed anything but as some lined up for last-minute supplies to ride out the megastorm.
“We got everything we need,” Ocean City resident Tom Siats said. “If it happens, it happens, Here we go.”
Sandy is a storm like no other.
“We did a door-to-door notification with the help of the state police,” Joe Theobal of the Ocean City Emergency Management said. “And they’ve been given notification that, you know, they’re staying on their own decision and there may be a time when public safety cannot respond to get to them.”
The hybrid hurricane and Nor’easter is already being felt and preparations have been underway for days.
Emergency management told those who stayed to brace for power outages and flooding. It is the water that worries the most here.
“We know we’re going to see flooding due to the high tide cycles,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said. “It’s already built up down there during this high tide cycle.”
The wind and rain have been relentless, pounding Ocean City for hours. The ocean has been drawing closer to the boardwalk by the hour.
“I’m evacuating from 10th Street in Ocean City and we’re going to go over to some friends in Ocean Pines and we’re going to stay in Ocean Pines,” one Ocean City resident said.
For days, people have boarded up. Now, they’re ready to hunker down.
Hellgren: “Are you worried?”
Ocean City Resident: “Kind of. Little bit. Just a little.”
As this powerful storm gets closer, anxiety is building over what will happen.
Shelters are open in Eastern Maryland. Sandy is double the size of Hurricane Irene, which caused little damage in Ocean City last year. Not only is this storm bigger, but it is expected to stay around longer– days of punishing wind and rain.
“This is something historic for many people,” Theorbald said. “You know, we plan for the worst and we take whatever actions are necessary to make sure we protect the life and property of this town. The decisions we’ve made are prudent. We certainly know that we have to get people out of low-lying areas. And the issue today is the surge downtown as well as the flooding. And that’s our focus at this point.”
The last hurricane to hit Ocean City was Irene in 2011. It moved quickly and did minimal damage. Sandy could stick around longer and do more damage.
Experts estimate this storm could cause $1 billion in damage.