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Floodwaters reach mid-Atlantic ahead of Sandy

By Randall Chase

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 2:01 p.m. MDT

Mayor Rick Meehan said about 100 to 150 feet of the eastern part of the fishing pier was damaged. He also said there was significant flooding in a downtown area where officials had ordered a mandatory evacuation. About 200 people were staying in the evacuated area, police said.

While no injuries have been reported in the area, the flooding is the worst the town has seen since Gloria, Ocean City Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald said.

The high water and extent of the flooding surprised some. Ron Croker, the owner of Waterways Marina, was out in the rain Monday afternoon moving jet skis from a parking lot on Coastal Highway. Croker said he was surprised how high the water rose.

"It's never been this high," Croker said of the water. "Pretty amazing."

In Delaware, Markell ordered the evacuation of about 50,000 people in coastal communities. Thousands more were evacuated in parts of Wilmington, the state's largest city, and Delaware City, a working-class community that's home to a massive oil refinery.

William Warren, a 76-year-old retired general laborer, said he wasn't planning to leave.

"Where else am I going to go?" Warren said Monday morning, sitting in his car outside the mobile home where he rents a room.

At high tide around midday Monday, dark gray waves rolled and crashed along Delaware City's 10-foot seawall, occasionally spraying over the top. The tide was near the city's 8.5-foot record. The next high tide, overnight, was forecast to surpass it.

Delaware City Police Chief Dan Tjaden said it's been hard persuading many of the approximately 700 people in the evacuation zone that there's a threat because Hurricane Irene did only modest damage in the area last year. He said authorities have marked the doors of those who refused to evacuate by stretching bright yellow police tape across their front door frames.

"If they need us, they call us," Tjaden said. "I give them my cellphone number, they give me their cellphone numbers and we just go from there and we hope for the best."

On Fenwick Island, bordered on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and by Assawoman Bay on the other, Mayor Audrey Serio said she woke up with six inches of water on the ground floor of her home. Neighbors' homes were also flooded. Al Daisey stood outside his home, warily observing the bay, normally at the end of his street, creeping several feet into his yard.

In the Washington area, winds started picking up Monday afternoon, and snowflakes could be seen mixed in with the raindrops falling downtown. Fire departments began responding to trees falling on homes, although no injuries were reported.

The Metro transit system in Washington closed for the first time since Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Officials weren't expected to decide on restoring service until Monday evening and first needed assurances from utility companies that they would be able to maintain electricity. The system would be restored only when rail and bus travel is considered safe, spokesman Dan Stessel said.

With relatively light winds in Washington, some were having fun with the storm. A shirtless man wearing a horse's-head mask was shown on WRC-TV cameras jogging, an image that quickly went viral.

Associated Press writers Brian Witte in Reisterstown, Md., David Dishneau in Delaware City, Del., and Eric Tucker and Ben Nuckols in Washington contributed to this report.

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