Ocean City hangs it out to dry High tide called the resort's worst since 1962 northeaster.

November 01, 1991|By Carl Schoettler | Carl Schoettler,Evening Sun Staff Reporter Robert Hilson Jr. contributed to this story.

OCEAN CITY -- Storm-driven surf subsided today after a day of snapping at the sea wall, surging up to the boardwalk, nipping away at dunes, dune grass and fences dedicated just this week as part of a $44 million beach replenishment project.

Tides surged 4 to 5 feet above normal highs yesterday afternoon, flooding much of the south end of Ocean City, the Inlet and most of the streets along the length of the bay side.

"It's the worst high tide since the 1962 northeaster," said Terence J. McGean, acting city engineer.

zTC "They taught me a lot in school," he said, "but not how to stop the tide from coming in."

McGean said there had been no emergencies.

"Nobody's house got washed away," he said.

Ocean City police reported no injuries: "Just a lot of water."

"There's nothing in any danger other than from flooding," McGean said.

A surfer coming out of the ocean at 12th Street said the waves were cresting with a 10-foot face.

"It was great," said Steve Dane, 30, an Ocean City native who has spent a lot of time in the water. "This is about as big as they get," said another surfer, Mike Conboy, who works at a restaurant called Fager's Island, at 60th Street.

The waves may not get as high today. The National Weather Service forecast a slight chance of rain for late tonight and possibly tomorrow morning, then becoming partly sunny and breezy.

In Baltimore, tides caused minor flooding. The intersection at Lancaster and Caroline streets in Fells Point was under water today and police had to reroute traffic.

Yesterday, 3 to 3 1/2 feet of water covered Ocean City's St. Louis Avenue at high tide. Kids slogged through curb-high water as they went trick-or-treating in the 8800 block of Chesapeake Ave. hours after the tides had receded.

"The flooding we're having is probably the worst since [Hurricane] Gloria" in 1985, McGean said.

West Ocean City was basically under water up to the door sills and into the first floors.

Water lapped all through Shantytown Village and the marinas at the west end of the U.S. 50 bridge.

Dunes were damaged at 78th and 79th streets, where surging tides had ripped away fencing and about a third of the dune. Waterflooded over the dune at 79th Street and stood in a pool under an apartment house.

"I don't think the water has been as high at the beach line in many years," McGean said. "I don't believe Gloria got as high.

"It's higher than I've ever seen," he said. "At 2 p.m., it was 15 feet from the boardwalk, north of 4th Street all the way to the end of the boardwalk."

Until the high tide at about 2:45 a.m., Ocean City emergency crews could do little more than pick up "anything floating around."

"We do the best we can between tides," McGean said.

"It looks much worse than it is," he said.

He said it was difficult to tell about beach damage until tides return to normal.

But he said he thought portions of beach that had eroded would come back in the spring "when nice long

swelling waves take the sand bar and deposit it back on the beach."

He was optimistic because of the way the waves were breaking now.

"They're breaking far off shore," he said. "You've got a flat beach and the beach is not eroded.

"If they were breaking right at the beach then we would have some concern."

Both the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Natural Resources had helicopters in the air yesterday.

But their estimates of damage are not apt to come before the weekend.

The cause of the extraordinary tides and subsequent flooding was a storm hanging about 200 miles out to sea, veering back and forth, whacking the East Coast from Maine to Florida.

Ocean City was relatively unscathed, compared with Long Island, N.Y., and Cape Hatteras, N.C.

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