Weather forecasters believe Hurricane Irene could rival 1985’s Hurricane Gloria, which decimated the Ocean City boardwalk and was the last time the resort was forced to order a full scale evacuation.
A state of emergency has been issued for Maryland, but residents in Ocean City are asked to evacuate the area immediately in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Irene, according Mayor Rick Meehan. Residents should be evacuated by 5 p.m. Friday, Meehan tells WRAU 88.3 Ocean City.
Residents will not be allowed back into the town after 5 p.m. tomorrow until the evacuation order is lifted.
Ocean City Manager Dennis Dare says the resort town has enacted phase 1 of the emergency plan, which urges people who might be planning a trip to the beach this weekend to stay home.
Town officials also are asking for boats to be pulled out of the water at local marinas and businesses to board up their windows and close. Ocean City police will be going door to door discouraging anyone from riding out the storm.
More than 4,000 foreign students living and working in Ocean City are being ordered to a minor league baseball stadium in Salisbury, where they will reportedly be bused to the Baltimore convention center for shelter until the storm passes.
It's the first full scale evacuation for Ocean City since Hurricane Gloria crashed ashore in 1985, decimating the Ocean City boardwalk. Town officials are calling Hurricane Irene, "Gloria on steroids."
Meanwhile, over in Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency. The governor says he doesn’t plan to order a statewide evacuation or reverse lanes on Interstate 64, reports AP. He did, however, caution residents who live in low-lying areas to be ready in case of a local evacuation.