printed 12/21/2018


Every spring a number of Ocean City elected officials and employees go to New Orleans to participate in the National Hurricane Conference.

The primary goal of the conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and lower property damage.

Now I know that the Ocean City government has volumes planning for a hurricane similar to Michael if Ocean City is hit.

The easy part of the plan would be the hurricane preparation procedures such as ordering residents to leave Ocean City. The difficult part is addressing the damage, especially the human toll and property damage, once the hurricane such as Michael passes over Ocean City.

The life-threatening quality of a hurricane similar to Michael could cause major devastation in Ocean City.

Now that the extent of Hurricane Michael’s damages can be clearly seen in the photographs of Mexico Beach, (See https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=13UoLG4assM), Ocean City residents should be very concerned because the building construction and infrastructure in Ocean City are very similar to Mexico Beach.

Many of the properties in Mexico Beach that were destroyed were constructed very similar to the frame construction of those in Ocean City.

Because of their wood frame construction, many of the downtown building and homes in little Salisbury, Montego Bay, Caine Keys II and Caine Woods could suffer possible total destruction.

In addition to many of the frame buildings that may be destroyed, buildings that look like they are construction with concrete could also suffer significant damage because the exterior is a coat of stucco placed on top of nonconcrete material.

But winds similar to Michael will not be the hurricane’s most and only life-threatening quality. The Ocean City coastline may be temporarily swallowed by the ocean, as a storm surge swamps the shore.

Nine feet of storm surge, the minimum that was forecasted for Michael, is enough to turn cars into floating battering rams and cover one-story buildings. (See https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=edAol1dsXu4 for flooding). Such a storm surge would leave Coastal Highway in a flood of debris blocking many drain areas.

But this may not matter because the storm would have knocked out electricity to Ocean City pumping stations used to pump water to homes and remove sewage that are generated in homes.

Moreover, any home not subject to damage could probably have to deal with no running water or sewage backing into their residents.

The cleanup of debris would be massive requiring the use of heavy equipment that Ocean City currently may not have.

In addition, the flooding of the streets could make vehicle movement very difficult. This flooding could be a major impediment to the operations of the city efforts to clean up after the hurricane.

The reason for this is the clean-up activities would probably be carried out at the public safety building between 65th and 66th streets.

While the public safety building may be operational, any flooding of 65th and 66th streets could essentially cut off accesses to and exit from the building.

Moreover, if any backup generators at the public safety building were not adequately raised off the ground, public safety building operations may be limited due to flooding conditions.

Then there is the human toll. Thousands of residents, including many seniors, would no longer have a home because the hurricane destroyed their house.

They will spend weeks trying to suspend the reality of the situation as they attempt to put their life back together again and deal with insurance adjusters to file their loss claims.

Yes, this letter addresses a few of the dire consequences resulting from a hurricane that hits Ocean City that is similar to Michael.

If you think the damages cited in this letter are excessive, asked one of our elected officials for their informed opinion of the extent of estimated damages caused by a hurricane similar to Michael.

Unfortunately, there are very few measures we can take now to mitigate the damage from a major hurricane like Michael or prepare for the shock of seeing a compost of debris that use to be our home.

Joseph H. Potter

Ocean City

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