As Anne Arundel County and Annapolis officials worked yesterday to assess Isabel's economic damage, thousands of frustrated residents struggled to restart their businesses and lives in storm-ravaged areas.
County Executive Janet S. Owens said it would be months before all the property and environmental damage is repaired. The numbers suggested a heavy toll: 26,000 county residents still without power yesterday, 600 homes with major damage, 72 structures collapsed from the storm.
The Naval Academy also sustained tens of millions of dollars in damage and many lectures have to be relocated because of water damage. In Annapolis, a few residents cannot return to their homes and several waterside businesses remain closed.
"There's still a lot of work to do," said Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer.
Losses to looters
County police patrolled disaster-stricken areas to prevent looting. Officers set up a checkpoint in the Bayside Beach community, which had extensive flooding, to keep nonresidents out.
But looters got through to some communities. In the Arundel on the Bay community, thieves stole household items that were scattered in Sedonna Brown's wrecked home.
Brown, 39, said she was struggling to help her two young sons understand that their house and belongings were gone. She said her youngest, Carrington Michael, had told her, " `I don't believe that, Mommy, because God wouldn't let that happen to our house.' What do you say to that?"
Brown's husband, Michael, had boarded up windows with plywood and caulked the edges of sliding doors, but most of the home was destroyed. The bicycles and lawn furniture that Brown had tied down lay in mangled heaps in the front yard.
`Compelled to leave'
Gazing at the Chesapeake Bay through the space where the living room used to be, Michael Brown, 49, was thankful he had taken his family elsewhere that night.
"We've been in this house nine years, and we've never left for a storm," he said. "However, this time, I was just compelled to leave."
Near Annapolis' City Dock, where water rose nearly 7 1/2 feet above normal Friday morning, restaurants close to the water were struggling to reopen yesterday.
Workers spent the weekend using 15 gallons of bleach to clean Ego Alley, a bar on Dock Street, and were hoping to open - until they discovered yesterday that the electrical system had been damaged by the flood.
Kenneth Knief, the bar's owner, said he has ordered a generator from New Jersey, which should arrive tomorrow. Knief said the delay will cost him several days of business.
"I went from a $5,000 to a $20,000 loss," he said."
Many Annapolis business owners were feeling added pressure to have things back to normal by the time of the United States Sailboat Show, which opens Oct. 9, and the Powerboat Show a week later. Both events are worth millions of dollars to the city each year.
Show organizers said they had secured their portable docks, tents and fleet of nearly a dozen sailboats early last week and that they sustained no damage.
"We could start setting up tomorrow if we had to," said Rick Franke, a spokesman for the boat shows.
Much is left to do
But some businesses say they have a lot of work to do to get ready for the shows. At Pusser's Landing bar and restaurant, at the Marriott hotel on the water's edge, the storm damaged the dock and outdoor seating area, which can accommodate about 200 people normally.
"That's what used to be our bar," said Dan Monk, the assistant general manager, pointing to a lopsided pile of timber.
The water also seeped into the indoor section of the restaurant, where the wooden floor was bleached white from bay salt and peppered with sodden pink Sweet'N Low packets. The water was so deep Friday that a kayaker paddled into the restaurant and tried to take some T-shirts, Monk said.
Monk said the restaurant would be open before the start of the first boat show.
"We have to be up and running," Monk said. "This is our bread and butter, so we'll do whatever we have to to get ready."
Other signs that the county was looking forward to normal operations included today's expected opening of most schools and yesterday's closure of the last of four emergency shelters, at Annapolis Senior High School.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency office is opening at the Arundel Center today to help disaster victims with low-interest loans, counseling, unemployment assistance and other needs. Those interested in going to the center should call 800-621-3362 to register.
Sun staff writer Ariel Sabar contributed to this story.