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Massive Flooding On Eastern Seaboard, Ocean City Pier Destroyed

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Then-Hurricane Sandy’s surging waves destroyed a portion of Ocean City’s landmark pier.
Bryan Russo
Then-Hurricane Sandy’s surging waves destroyed a portion of Ocean City’s landmark pier.

9:05 p.m.: Salisbury, Md. is under a mandatory curfew, and the town's mayor says emergency workers are rescuing residents in low-lying neighborhoods.

Mayor Jim Ireton declared a state of emergency for Salisbury around 5:45 p.m. Monday evening, ordering all residents to get off the roads by 7 p.m. Ireton says the National Guard is bringing Humvees in to help evacuate people from flooded neighborhoods.

"We're actually doing an extraction right now over off the water in one of our low-lying areas, Germania Circle," says Ireton. "We have people in boats who are trying to get to people who decided a little too late that they wanted to go, but we're going to get them right now."

Salisbury's new high school, James M. Bennett, is open as a shelter for local residents.  Ireton says much of the city's downtown is flooded, though residents are not yet experiencing the extensive power outages they've endured in previous storms. 

7:00 p.m.: As Hurricane Sandy reaches her strongest point on the Delmarva Peninsula, some coastal residents are resorting to drastic measures to get off the island as flood waters continue to rise.

Lee Gerachis has owned a Malibu's surf shop on 8th St. for almost 30 years, and he's sat through countless nor'easters and hurricanes — including the devastating hurricane Gloria in 1985 which decimated the entire boardwalk.

Gerachis says that he is sitting comfortably in west Ocean City at this hour, but in order to get there, Gerachis had to walk — or wade rather — down eight streets to the Rt. 50 bridge wading through thigh deep water before walking across the bridge and another mile or so to a friend's house just off the island.

He says the streets of Ocean City are eerily quiet, but extremely flooded, and he expects it to get much worse when the next high tide comes in around 8:25 p.m.

Gerachis says he's never seen anything like Sandy in all his years here on the coast, and he says the damage isn't done yet. For now, he's glad that his long and wet walk out of the disaster zone has led him to safety for now.

6:00 p.m.: As residents of coastal Ocean City, Md. hunker down in their homes, many people are turning to social media to keep themselves informed. And while smart phones often work well, even when the power goes out, the quality of the information isn't always up to par.

As Bryan Russo, WAMU's coastal reporter tells us, many people have come upon images of a bay hotel in flames surrounded by rising flood waters. Still others show the Indian River Bridge falling apart. In both cases, these are hoaxes.

Officials advise residents to listen to official sources and be mindful of the sources of stories and photos on social media for just this reason.

4:30 p.m. Both the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tydings Bridge in Maryland are now closed due to Hurricane Sandy. While the Bay Bridge routinely closes when winds are strong, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley believes this is the first time that the Tydings Bridge, which takes I-95 over the Susquehanna River between Cecil and Harford Counties, has closed in its 49 years of existence.

4:25 p.m. Emergency officials say Route 1 between Dewey Beach and Fenwick Island is closed due to high water on the road. Rob Walker, a spokesman for the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, says there's also some flooding in Rehoboth Beach.

"There is some flooding down on the boardwalk, however the dunes are mostly in good shape," says Walker.

Walker says about 500 people are currently staying at the county's three emergency shelters.

2:15 p.m. Flooding is nothing new to more than 700 people who live on the tiny Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, which saw devastating storm damage during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

This time, most residents have apparently decided to hunker down in their homes as Sandy approaches. Ken Castelli runs the Tangier History Museum and is among those who decided to ride it out.

"Water's pretty well up everywhere — it's pretty high," says Ken Castelli, who runs the Tangier History Museum, and is among those who decided to ride it out. "It's just really windy, and a whole lot of water, and it's going to get a whole lot worse before the end of the night. So any prayers anybody's got would be much appreciated."

Castelli says several homes are already flooded, and that those residents had to evacuate to the homes of neighbors on higher ground.

1:15 p.m. The Maryland Transportation Authority is expecting to close the Bay Bridge that connects the Eastern Shore to the rest of Maryland, citing high wind conditions. It is currently under wind restrictions, which bars larger vehicles like RVs and tractor trailers from using the bridge.

Update, 12:30 p.m.: The famous wooden fishing pier on Wicomico Street near the Ocean City Inlet has been partially destroyed as strong winds and storm surge batter the Eastern Shore.

Several famous bay-front hotspots popular with tourists are underwater, like Macky's Bayside Bar and Grille on 54th St. in Ocean City. It looks like an island now. The well known gazebo that sits in the bay attached to Fager's Island on 60th street appears to have been swallowed whole by the rising waters.

The well-known gazebo that sits in the bay attached to Fager's Island has been swallowed whole by waters. Further south in Chincoteague, Va., buildings are under feet of water.

Delaware's brand new Indian River Bridge is an absolute mess after a dune breach caused flooding both from the bay and ocean sides. All roads are of course closed.

One of the most alarming stories was of a boat that had been shrink-wrapped and docked for the season. It reportedly broke free from the dock and was seen cruising towards a group of waterfront homes. In hopes of stopping this run-away boat, a homeowner allegedly pulled out a gun and shot the boat, attempting to sink it before it crashed into his home.

Original Story: The landmark wooden fishing pier in Ocean City, Md. is crumbling under surging waves from Hurricane Sandy, as the morning high tide cycle is causing widespread flooding.

About half of the pier has been destroyed, and has been washed up with the inlet with surging waves that have already breached the seawall.

Other areas along the eastern seaboard are facing substantial flooding, as well, and many main transportation arteries are closed, as Hurricane Sandy makes her way down the east coast.

Officials are telling people to stay off the roads for the duration of Hurricane Sandy, after the high tide cycle this morning put virtually the entire downtown region underwater.

By many forecasters accounts, Sandy isn’t even here yet, but for many residents who find their homes and neighborhoods underwater, Sandy has already shown that she means business.

Last night, Maryland state highway officials closed the Route 50 bridge in both directions, so there is only one way in and out of Ocean City right now.

The decision coincided with evacuation efforts for all downtown residents south of 17th Street. That motorists coming to and leaving the resort must travel via the Route 90 bridge, which is near 65th Street.

The tide cycle has increased the flooding downtown, and reportedly knocked out power to a few portions of and downtown and midtown.

A longtime boardwalk business owner and a few friends are frantically trying to get cars that have been left downtown to the higher ground. He says roads in downtown Ocean City are so flooded they are practically impassible.

There's no place on the island residents can go to right now that doesn't have standing water, and he says he hasn't seen a storm like this since Hurricane Gloria in 1985, which famously destroyed the entire boardwalk.

Coastal Delaware is supposed to vacant as of this hour, as more than 50,000 people followed the governor's mandatory evacuation orders yesterday. But for anyone who stayed behind, it might be too late to leave, as Route 1, just north of the Indian River inlet has been closed since yesterday due to a dune breach.

State officials say they were very surprised with the dune breach happening so early. Weather experts say that water levels that high this early on, coupled with the storm's trajectory, could mean serious trouble for coastal Delaware.

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