Ocean City alert but not evacuating 'Doomsday' seen as far off yet

August 31, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer Staff writer Kris Antonelli contributed to this article.

OCEAN CITY -- Although they went on around-the-clock storm alert early yesterday morning, Ocean City officials decided by nightfall that Hurricane Emily was not enough of a threat to the Maryland coast to call for a mandatory evacuation of the resort.

"We're not sitting here waiting for Doomsday," said Mayor Roland E. "Fish" Powell. "And by the same token, we're not trying to create one. We don't have an emergency at the time being."

Based on estimates that there are 125,000 people currently in Ocean City, Clay Stamp, the resort's emergency operations coordinator, said it would take 12 hours to evacuate the town. The immediate Ocean City area has a permanent population of about 10,000.

Mayor Powell said he and the Town Council would meet early this morning to monitor reports on Hurricane Emily's progress. If it appears that Maryland's coast is in danger, Mr. Powell could invoke his emergency resolution powers and order an evacuation.

Although he said he did not see any reason for alarm, Mr. Stamp said the Ocean City Convention Center and the Northside Park recreational building were being readied for anyone seeking shelter.

"Some storms aren't that serious, but the town gives anyone who's nervous shelter," he said.

By mid-afternoon, winds off the ocean made the shoreline off 9th Street a surfer's delight, with waves twice the normal height.

"It's pretty good," said Ben Sparenberg, moments after he had emerged from waves 6 feet and higher at the popular surfing spot.

Hotel desk clerks reported that room reservation cancellations did not appear to be above the average. Traffic in and out of Ocean City flowed smoothly.

Meanwhile, on the Chesapeake Bay, marina managers fielded calls from scores of worried boat owners.

"I recommend they come down and take their boats out of the water," said Dottie Groves, assistant manager at Backyard Boats in Shady Side, near the mouth of the West River. She said the marina is offering a special price for owners who want their boats moved inside.

"With the sailboats, lots of people are coming down here to help tie things up," she said. "If we start doing everything at the last minute, we are going to have a lot of panicky people."

Phil Donahue, owner of Town Center Marina on Solomons Island, said the owners of some of the larger boats will be moving them up the Patuxent River to protected creeks.

"If things get bad," he said. "Some of them will come down and stay with their boats during the storm."

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