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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Joaquin spares inland Worcester

(Oct. 8, 2015) Although the weekend’s storm caused millions of dollars of damage to the beach in Ocean City, with minor structural damage as well, Berlin and Ocean Pines were largely unscathed, according to officials in both communities.
On Thursday, Ocean Pines General Manager Bob Thompson said emergency preparation was well underway as crews gassed up trucks and generators, and prepositioned key pieces of equipment in anticipation of flooding and road obstructions.
The community’s pools were closed, outside furniture and trashcans were brought inside and public works personnel were on alert for a sustained 72-hour operation, he said.
At the time, Thompson said the biggest concern was the continuous rain and high winds projected throughout the weekend, which could have caused problems for emergency workers. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, work crews fought to remove a number of large, downed trees from clogging main thoroughfares.
“We were out performing tree removal on Cathell Road … and there were about eight of us trying to cut those off the roads and another tree fell right in the midst of it and landed on one of our trucks that one of guys was sitting in,” Thompson said. “That’s what our biggest concern is, especially with the amount of [rain] we’re getting right now.”
Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency later that day, opening up federal resources for what some thought could be a potentially devastating convergence of a nor’easter and Hurricane Joaquin.
By Sunday, however, it was clear that the hurricane had veered away from the East Coast, and Hogan rescinded the order.
On the following day, Thompson said the affects of the storms in Ocean Pines were limited to minor damage to a few of the docks and only about a half-dozen downed trees.
“We did well,” he said. “All the pre-work helped out so we were ahead of it, and so far nothing major at all.”
Thompson praised public works and other personnel brought in to prepare for what could have been a much more destructive weekend.  
“Under these conditions, because we’ve had so much practice with it, they respond well,” he said. “Everybody jumps in to make sure that, not only are we prepared, but typically we make sure that everybody else is prepared as well amongst our team members.”
Looking forward to the rest of hurricane season, which runs through November, Thompson said he was comfortable with Ocean Pines’ readiness.
“We’ve had the same crew for a number of years and we’re very, very comfortable with their ability to respond to these types of situations,” he said. “I think we’ll be fine.”
In Berlin, Town Administrator Laura Allen said there was no significant damage or flooding.
“I think we got a little bit lucky with the path the hurricane chose to travel,” she said on Monday. “We were also prepared. We did storm draining cleaning and jetting, we made sure the drains were cleaned of leaves and we had two pumps that we had rented on Flower Street and Williams Street. I think all of that helped us quite a bit.”
On Friday the town announced it had purchased 500 sandbags, which it offered to residents free of charge. Allen said about 350 of those, placed at Burbage and Henry Park, were claimed as of Monday.
“The feedback on the sandbags has been pretty positive,” she said.
Water Resources and Public Works Director Jane Kreiter was upbeat on Monday.
“Compared to other people, we did great,” she said. “We did probably get about eight inches [of rain] in the three days, but we had enough time to catch up and we felt very prepared.”
Kreiter said the staff spent much of the weekend picking up downed tree limbs and that most of Berlin had been cleared as of Sunday.
“We didn’t have any big trees, but we did have a lot of limbs,” she said. “With all that rain, those branches were pretty heavy with all the leaves on them still. Some of the roads were in pretty bad shape, but we’ve swept most of them.”