Dorian’s might offers warning for future
Hurricane Dorian is slowly edging toward the coast of Florida. This storm, which meteorologists say is among the most powerful on record, is already affecting beaches all along the East Coast.
The Cape Region is not in the crosshairs for a direct hit, but this is a slow-moving storm, difficult to predict. As of Sept. 2, evacuation orders were issued as far north as South Carolina.
Our region has become accustomed to close calls. Still, this mighty storm is moving up the coast just as many local lifeguards head back to school. Rehoboth Beach Patrol Capt. Kent Buckson said Rehoboth is down to a skeleton crew, while at Cape Henlopen State Park, beaches are unguarded. With the number of lifeguards is decreasing, officials say the storm has already produced a strong undertow, increasing the risks of venturing into the surf.
This is not to say the ocean is too dangerous for swimming; it is to remind those enjoying our beaches in September – especially those with children – to find a beach where a lifeguard is on duty, and check with the guard before diving in.
Still, danger comes not only from high waves and undertow, but also from storm surge and successive high tides.
Sea level is rising. Delaware is slowly sinking. Coastal flooding is already an issue along many low-lying local roads.
With hundreds of proposed new housing and commercial units on the way or awaiting approval, where is future stormwater and storm surge going to go?
New developments all submit stormwater plans, but many existing plans are failing. Local roads are flooding even during minor storms.
The Cape Region will likely escape Dorian’s wrath. But we should take this storm as a warning to require more effective planning and stormwater management.
In addition to planning beach replenishment, officials at all levels must mitigate future flooding by taking steps now to protect marshland and preserve open space to give floodwaters somewhere to go.