Sea Witch is still on, and with Hurricane Sandy headed straight for the Cape Region, officials have changed from wait-and-see to taking precautionary steps.
Meanwhile, some area hotels are receiving cancellations because of the weather and are offering discounts to area residents seeking shelter from the storm.
Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Carol Everhart said the storm is not supposed to hit until Sunday, Oct. 28 – the day of New Sweden’s performance at the Bandstand and the Best Costumed Dog Contest Parade.
As of Friday, Oct. 26, no changes have been made to weekend events. Everhart said the parade is weather-dependent; the chamber will make the call Sunday.
Weather-related cancellations will be posted on capegazette.com. Festival visitors can also call the chamber at 227-6446 for updates on cancellations.
City Manager Greg Ferrese said forecast modeling indicates the city could take a major hit. He said there was no doubt in his mind the city will get high winds and rain starting Sunday and into Monday and Tuesday.
Early Oct. 26, city crews began removing every other bench from Olive Avenue to Delaware Avenue. Trash cans are being removed from the beach and many from the Boardwalk.
"If we need to, we will remove all the benches after the parade Saturday," Ferrese said. "We will be working with the chamber during the event."
Speaking Oct. 25, Ferrese said the plan is for the public works department to begin removing cans and benches at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, and work through to midnight. If the forecast turns bad, however, crews could start earlier to protect city workers, he said.
In the meantime, the city will keep its stormwater catch basins clean and has notified Brighton Suites and Star of the Sea condominium to keep cars out of their underground parking garages in case of flooding, Ferrese said.
He said while it is possible the storm could stay out in the ocean, the city is preparing for the worst-case scenario.
Everhart said if the dog parade is cancelled, contestants can still send in pictures of their constumed pets to the chamber for judging. Contestants are to send a picture and their permission for the chamber to use the photo to Meghan McCalley at email@example.com.
Ferrese said all residents are encouraged to bring in all lightweight objects and be well-stocked with water, batteries and other necessary items.
For more information on scheduling for Sea Witch, visit the chamber’s website, beach-fun.com.
Hotels ready to help
The Sleep Inn on Route 1 outside Lewes has received many cancellations as visitors shy away from the beaches because of the impending hurricane.
Keisha Harmon, front desk agent at the Sleep Inn, said the hotel has vacancy and will offer the weekday rate to any local residents interested in riding out the storm at the hotel. The rate starts Sunday when the storm is expected to hit, Harmon said. For $67.50 a night, residents can stay at hotel and enjoy wireless and a hot breakfast, Harmon said.
Dee Moore of the Econolodge outside Rehoboth said the hotel is contacting all those who made reservations to inform them of the impending storm.
“If the governor declares an emergency, we will likely be closing,” Moore said.
For now the hotel remains open. Rooms can be reserved at a rate of $39.99.
Holiday Inn Express will not close and is open to anyone looking for shelter. Representatives from the hotel said there have been no cancellations at this time.
Richard Gooding, front office manager at the Atlantic Sands also said there have been no cancellations at this point. He said the hotel will waive its cancellation penalty starting Sunday until the end of the storm.
Gooding said the hotel will remain open and operate normally for as long as possible, closing only if a state of emergency is ordered. He said the hotel will accommodate those who need shelter, and there will be rooms available between Sunday and Tuesday.
Rita Norwood, manager of Crosswinds Motel, said there is nothing in place yet as far as special rates for displaced persons, although she said the 23-room motel is willing to help out however it can. She said there have been no cancellations at this time.
Residents wary of storm
Residents and visitors are keeping a watchful eye to the sky as they plan for weekend events in Rehoboth Beach.
Katharina Karnahl and her family are in Rehoboth until Saturday, Oct. 27, when she says they will return home to Bethesda, Md.
"We were leaving regardless of the storm, but it is good to know we will be home before it hits," Karnahl said. "We plan to stock up on things so we are ready."
Ken and Kathy Thayer of Dagsboro enjoyed the sunshine with their golden retriever Oct. 26, but said they planned to stock up on supplies and gasoline for their generator in case the power goes off.
"There's no reason to leave because there's no place to avoid it," said Kathy Thayer.