Photos: Above, onlookers survey the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel Friday morning. Below, a boogie boarder does battle with the sea on Wednesday. Minor flooding such as the state park parking lot on the Assawoman Bay was the worst beaches saw. A couple fails to realize the dangers of the storm Friday morning, venturing out on the jetties in Bethany Beach before being removed by police. Businesses such as Nantucket's in Fenwick Island began boarding up windows on Monday.
As life returned to normal in Sussex County in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner made a formal request for at least $2.5 million in federal disaster aid.
Gov. Minner's request on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2003, made the state eligible for federal assistance and reimbursement costs associated with Isabel.
The request cites estimated costs for debris removal and protective measures of at least $2.5 million, along with other costs to governments, businesses and individuals that have yet to be tallied.
"Hurricane Isabel was not as damaging to Delaware as it could have been or as it was in other states, but we have clearly seen some effects and we have definitely seen some costs," Gov. Minner said. "I hope the President will grant our request for a disaster declaration, making individuals and governments eligible for some financial relief."
On Friday, Debbie Jones, spokesperson for the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, said almost all of the nearly 500 evacuees at the county's emergency shelters at Sussex Central High School and Beacon Middle School had gone home by noon.
Only one family remained, she said, because their home had sustained structural damage during the storm. She said that family would be placed at another site.
The Indian River Inlet bridge reopened after being closed for a dozen hours while crews determined if any substantial damage had been done to the support pilings.
Readings showed that the bridge did not sustain damage significant enough to make it unsafe for travel and it was reopened around noon.
The bridge is scheduled to be replaced starting in Fall 2004 due to concerns about the stability of those pilings.
In her revised State of Emergency, Gov. Minner said the Delaware National Guard would remain activated, and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the Delaware Department of Transportation, and the Delaware State Police would continue to be authorized to order bridge and road closures.
"Our state was fortunate in sustaining as little damage as it did," said the governor. "Things were predicted to be much worse and I'm glad that those forecasts did not come true. You can look at other states and see what the possibilities were."
Gov. Minner cautioned residents to be aware of downed trees and live electrical lines that could block roads and streets in the storm's aftermath.
"Over the next few days, power will continue to be out in many parts of ths state and people will need to be careful," she said.
The Division of Public Health said it would be available to answer residents' questions regarding food spoilage, drinking water, and flood cleanup and mold issues over the weekend.
The division can be reached at 1-888-459-2943 or 302-744-4700. Information on these and other hurricane related topics can be found on the DPH web site by clicking on "Hurricane Health and Safety Info".
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry, which closed Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the storm, said that it would remain closed Friday but should reopen Saturday. Travelers can call 1-800-64-FERRY for more information.
In a travel advisory at 12:32 p.m., DelDOT reported 8 road closings in the county:
- U.S. 13A from Road 535 in Seaford to High Street in Blades due to flooding on the drawbridge
- Front Street between Central and Cooper in Laurel due to flooding
- Road 203 (Lighthouse Road) between Route 36 and the Delaware Bay
- Road 312 between Road 297 and Road 312A in Oak Orchard
At 9:50 a.m., Rob Book, spokesperson for the Delaware Electric Cooperative in Greenwood, said approximately 2,000 scattered customers remained without power.
Book said the bulk of their outages were in the Angola and Holly Mount, Workman's Store and Phillip's Hill areas north of Millsboro.
A peak of about 8,000 customers have been without power at various times throughout the county. Thirty-five crews are working to restore power, along with outside contractors.
In a 2 p.m. news release, Conectiv officials said 52,000 customers on the lower Delmarva Peninsula, including Sussex County, remained without electricity.
Emergency shelters had a busy day Thursday.
The state's Joint Information Center said 385 people were in the Sussex Central High School shelter at 301 W. Market St. and another 113 in the Beacon Middle School shelter on Route 24 near Lewes and Rehoboth.
Buoy reports off the Delaware coast showed continued improvements as of 5 p.m. Friday.
Buoy 44009 reported wind speeds of 19.4 knots and gusts to 21.4 knots with wave heights falling to 8.2 feet from a high of 22 feet on Thursday.
In its 11 a.m. bulletin, the National Weather Service said Isabel was losing all of its tropical characteristics and that all tropical storm warnings were discontinued as the storm raced northward at 30 mph.
Gov. Minner's State of Emergency order on Wednesday mandated that all schools close on Thursday and Friday and that residents in low-lying areas evacuate.
The order, which took effect at 7 a.m. Thursday, also recommended that residents in mobile homes evacuate and that businesses close on Thursday and Friday.
State government and county offices remained closed Friday except for essential personnel.
She added that residents should be prepared to be without power or transportation for several days and that they should have enough food, supplies, fuel and medicine on hand to last that long.
"This is going to be a serious storm and wind damage and flooding is possible in every part of the state," Gov. Minner said on Wednesday. "Given these expected conditions and the expected results, I want to err on the side of caution and take these actions (State of Emergency)."
In Sussex County, Jones said representatives of a number of agencies, including the Delaware State Police, the National Guard, the power companies serving the county, the state Department of Transportation, the state Department of Parks and Recreation, county paramedics, the Red Cross and the U.S. Coast Guard, had gathered at the EOC on Thursday.
Jones said most of the calls to the center had revolved around the governor's mandatory evacuation order for low-lying areas.
Officials began urging visitors to leave the area on Monday, Sept. 15, to make evacuations easier.
DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes requested that owners of private dams lower the water levels behind their dams regardless of the storm's expected intensity.
He also advised residents, especially parents of children, not to play near or allow their children to play near storm drains or dams.
In preparation for the storm's aftermath, DNREC also said that ocean and Delaware Bay property owners should be aware of the agency's repair and rebuilding requirements.
Before repairing any damage to dunes, dune crossovers or any part of their home, DNREC said, property owners should contact local town, city or county officials, as well as DNREC, to learn what types of repairs and approvals are required and permitted.
DNREC said property owners should call 302-739-4411 to learn more about those approvals before proceeding with repairs.
Following is a list of evacuation routes from the Delaware beaches.
- U.S. 113 Northbound from MD State Line to Kent County Line
- U.S. 13 Northbound from MD State Line to Kent County Line
- Route 1 Northbound from MD State Line to Kent County Line
- Route 54 Westbound from DE Rt. 1 to U. S. Rt. 113
- Route 26 Westbound from DE Rt. 1 to U. S. Rt. 113
- Route 24 Westbound from DE Rt. 1 to U. S. Rt. 113
- Route 24 Westbound from DE Rt. 113 to U. S. Rt. 13
- Route 16 Westbound from DE Rt. 1 to MD State Line
- Route 9 Westbound from DE Rt. 1 to U. S. Rt. 13
- Route 404 Westbound from DE Rt. 9 to U. S. Rt. 13
- Route 18 Westbound from DE Rt. 1 to MD State Line
- Sussex Rd. 361 from DE Rt. 26 to Sussex Rd. 368
- Sussex Rd. 368 from Sussex Rd. 361 to DE Rt. 17
- Route 17 Westbound from Sussex Rd. 368 to Sussex Rd. 370
- Sussex Road 370 from DE Rt. 17 to DE Rt. 20
- Route 20 Westbound from DE Rt. 54 to DE Rt. 26 (Sussex Rd. 382)
- Route 54 Westbound from U. S. Rt. 113 to U. S. Rt. 13
- Route 5, Northbound form DE Rt. 24 to DE Rt. 1
- Route 30 (Sussex Rd. 64) Westbound form DE Rt. 24 to DE Rt. 1
- Route 30 (Sussex Rd. 64) Westbound from DE Rt. 26 to U. S. Rt. 13
- Route 20 Westbound from U. S. Rt. 113 to U. S. Rt. 113
- Route 267 Westbound from DE Rt. 113 to the Split of DE Rt. 24 and 30
To alleviate confusion over what constitutes a "low-lying area", Gov. Minner's office has supplied the following list of areas in Sussex County that fall under the term "low-lying area", as defined by the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Oceanside and bayside properties in:
Bethany excluding high rises
North Bethany area
Rehoboth ocean front
North Shores ocean front
Lewes Beach east of the canal
Prime Hook Beach
Milton adjacent to the Broadkill River
Milford adjacent to the Mispillion River
The governor has ordered residents in areas such as those to evacuate to storm shelters at Sussex Central High School and Beacon Middle School.