Emergency crews and property owners in Sussex County are getting their first glimpse this morning at damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, but flooded and debris-covered roads throughout the county are making travel difficult and treacherous in some spots as the mid-Atlantic region begins the path to recovery.
Gov. Jack Markell has modified the travel ban that went into effect ahead of the storm, reducing it to a Level I warning. Travel is permitted, but strongly discouraged. Travel into evacuation zones and areas where roads remain closed due to floodwaters or debris will not be permitted until it is safe to allow re-entry. Delaware State Police and members of the Delaware National Guard are staffing more than 20 checkpoints on roadways across the county.
A state of emergency remains in effect for the county and the rest of the state.
Assessment teams that include first-responders and road crews are canvassing Sussex County this morning to determine the extent of damage, and to begin plotting strategy to clean up the damage so property owners can return home and begin their own recovery.
“It is too early to say just how much damage we have suffered, but it’s fair to say we’ve sustained something more than just a few scratches,” said Joseph Thomas, director of the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center. “Our survey teams are out there now, and as we expected they’re finding trees and power lines down, flooded roads, some structural damage to homes, the things you would expect with a storm as powerful and as long-lasting as this.”
“The next few hours will give us a better picture, but compared to some of the images we are seeing out of surrounding states, I think we might have fared better than most,” Mr. Thomas said. “As the old saying goes, time will tell.”
Hurricane Sandy raged ashore Monday evening in southern New Jersey, pushing up tides, dumping torrential rains, and sending 70 mph winds into Sussex County and the surrounding region. Floodwaters in coastal areas are beginning to recede somewhat, and conditions should improve gradually throughout the day and into Wednesday as the remnants of the storm continue moving off into New England and Canada.
As expected, numerous power outages are being reported across the county. Utility crews are working to restore service to more than 3,700 customers in the Delmarva Power and Delaware Electric Cooperative service territories.
Three shelters remain open for anyone displaced by the storm. The shelters are:
Cape Henlopen High School
1250 Kings Hwy.
Lewes (pets accepted)
Indian River High School
29772 Armory Road
Milford Middle School
612 Lakeview Ave.
Milford (pets accepted)
For updates, stay tuned to local television and radio stations, the Sussex County EOC website at http://www.sussexcountyde.gov/services/storm>www.sussexcountyde.gov/services/storm, and the County’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SussexCountyDE>www.facebook.com/SussexCountyDE. The public should also follow the County’s Twitter feeds at http://www.twitter.com/sussex_pio and http://www.twitter.com/sussexctyde_eoc www.twitter.com/sussexctyde_eoc.
For the latest forecast, visit the National Weather Service website at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/er/phi>www.nws.noaa.gov/er/phi, and the National Hurricane Center at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov>www.nhc.noaa.gov.
Members of the public with questions about evacuations or other issues can call the EOC storm line at (302) 856-7366.