Photo: The back side of Floyd pounded the inland bays of Sussex County on Thursday evening, Sept. 16, 1999, but did little damage to coastal areas. Western Sussex County suffered the most damage from flooding.
SUSSEX COUNTY -- Hurricane Floyd brushed past Sussex County on Thursday, Sept. 16, 1999, but other than flooding on the western side of the county, the damage inflicted was mostly limited to downed tree branches as the state of Delaware saw Floyd come and go under a state of emergency.
Sussex Countians watched with some trepidation as Floyd moved up the east coast with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, but after hitting land in North Carolina, the storm weakened considerably and was a minimal Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 miles per hour by the time the eye passed over Fenwick Island at 4 p.m. Sept. 16. Floyd was downgraded to a tropical storm not much later.
Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper, in a news conference on Sept. 16, said the state "dodged a bullet" and that he had heard of no damage to dunes or property damage in coastal areas. Some roads were closed due to flooding, Indian River Inlet bridge was closed to recreational vehicles and trucks Thursday afternoon, and police advised motorists not to go out unless they had to because of standing water on many other roads.
Gov. Carper lifted the state of emergency at 6 a.m. Friday, Sept. 17, less than 24 hours after instituting it on Thursday, Sept. 16. After touring the heavily flooded Greenwood area on Friday, Sept. 17, Gov. Carper asked the Delaware Emergency Management Agency to begin damage assessment for the purpose of obtaining federal disaster assistance for the state.
By Friday morning, the sun was shining brightly and winds were beginning to decrease in intensity as Friday wore on. Gale warnings were still in effect in Sussex County on Friday but water levels were much lower in the coastal areas than expected during high tides early Friday morning and at mid-day Friday.
The worst flooding was in western Sussex County, where 75 percent of the downtown area of Greenwood was under 1 to 4 feet of water. Seaford and Bridgeville also reported flooding.
Floyd did affect Sussex Countians in other ways as all schools were closed Thursday and Seaford schools were delayed an hour in the morning on Friday.
Seaford recorded more than 7 inches of rain and Milford more than 6 inches. More than 200 people evacuated to shelters in Frankford, Georgetown and Milford. Voluntary evacuations were requested by the mayors of Lewes and Dewey Beach.
Gov. Carper asked the Delaware Emergency Management Agency on Friday to begin assessing damage in the state for a potential request for federal disaster funds. He said he was confident funding could be secured to repair roads, bridges and public buildings but was less certain funding could be secured for private homes.
Shortly after the eye passed Sussex County Thursday, the back side of the large storm was pounding docks and bulkheads with big waves in the inland bays while the center of Floyd was over New York City.
Visible damage along the coast and inland bays from the back side of the storm was limited to downed tree branches. Coastal flooding was minimal despite two high tide cycles during the storm.
In addition, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry announced that it would not run Thursday or Friday due to continuing rough seas.
Conectiv reported some power outages in the county due to fallen trees or branches.
Copyright © 1999 Sussex County Online