BERLIN — With flooding and lengthy blackouts popping up around the Eastern Shore in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Berlin was able to escape relatively unscathed.
“Things went extremely well considering the severity of the storm,” said Mayor Gee Williams, crediting the hard work of town employees and a little bit of good luck.
Rain and wind gusts from Sandy began to be noticeable on Sunday, with the full impact of the storm hitting the shore Monday. While Ocean City and West Ocean City saw extensive flooding and blackouts in areas, Berlin only lost power for a total of about four hours during the entire event.
“We had two minor outages yesterday [Monday],” said Town Administrator Tony Carson.
The outages took place in two, two-hour blocks Monday morning and early afternoon. The blackouts were also quickly contained.
“They were not town-wide; they were localized,” said Williams.
That’s a far cry from some parts of Worcester County that didn’t have power return until mid-afternoon Tuesday. According to Williams, much of the credit should go toward Electric Utility Director Tim Lawrence and his department for marshaling the power outages and working in 12-hour shifts throughout Sandy on Monday.
“The Mayor and Council are grateful for the dedication and performance of the department heads and town employees during the storm,” said Williams.
It wasn’t just the electric utility either; Williams praised the efforts of everyone from public works to the police department in presenting a united front against the storm. He described all town departments as containing “professionals” who were willing to work during the storm for long hours.
“A lot of it was having the departments out there,” agreed Carson, who added that a lot of luck didn’t hurt either.
A transformer located on West Street was threatened by rising waters during the storm that could have caused a short.
“If the water gets to a certain level it could blow out a transformer,” Carson explained.
While flooding did occur on some streets including West, it never got to the point where the transformer was submerged, preventing extensive complications. Flooding in other parts of town reached similar levels at low-points. However, compared to some of the flooding caused by rainfall in August and September, the toll taken by Sandy was surprisingly minimal.
“We had some minor flooding on William Street,” said Williams, who also listed a few more streets that had trouble, such as West Street, none of it severe.
Where there was flooding, Williams confirmed that it didn’t last long. Even with Berlin in the process of looking to upgrade its aged stormwater infrastructure, the town was able to drain flooding quickly. It was Berlin being located inland far from storm surge and tides, as well as the fact that rainfall was spread out over days, not hours, that kept high water from becoming an issue, in Williams’ opinion.
At this point, the town is in the “clean-up phase,” said Carson.
Carson specifically recalled a number of fallen trees narrowly missing homes. Williams agreed that Berlin seemed to have a guardian angel during the storm.
“It wasn’t our turn,” he said.