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Storm soaks Ocean City, leaves only minor flooding. No property damage, beach erosion reported. Storm moving out of area.


OCEAN CITY -- No property damage or beach erosion and only minimal flooding due to heavy rain were reported today after a spring storm of near winter-like fury threatened the Maryland coastline last night.

Ocean City appeared to have escaped damage like that done by a Jan. 4 northeaster that pounded the Atlantic shore.

The resort's final hurdle appeared to be the high tide expected at noon today before the storm moved from the area.

Coast Guard Seaman Brannon Nilles said today there appeared to be no beach erosion and only minor street flooding. A spokesman for the Ocean City Fire Department said the street drainage system was taxed because of the heavy rain that hit the coastal town "but there was nothing coming over the boardwalk."

He said the only worry today was the high tide. "After that, the storm is moving out and we won't have to worry about it," he said.

"It's only raining down here," he said, adding that winds last night were steady at 12 knots with gusts up to 30 knots.

The Coast Guard said that a coastal flood watch, gale warnings and heavy surf advisories were in effect today.

National weather forecasters had warned that gale-force winds and higher-than-normal tides could cause coastal flooding in Ocean City and along parts of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline throughout today.

But the storm lacked the punch of January's storm, officials said.

Winds reaching about 40 mph whipped the ocean out of the northeast yesterday from Chincoteague in Virginia to Fenwick Island in Delaware.

In Ocean City, 8- to 12-foot seas rammed the stone jetty on the south side of the inlet parking lot. With the wind driving a steady rain, visibility was reduced to less than three nautical miles.

Ocean City Manager Dennis W. Dare said city workers closed the stainless-steel gates on the sea wall portion of the boardwalk to keep sand from drifting onto the walkway. He said officials were keeping an eye on three low-pressure areas similar to weather conditions that brought on the January storm.

Ocean City still is repairing beach damage caused by the January storm. T. L. James and Co., a Louisiana firm, is scheduled to begin pumping sand back onto the beach next Friday. If weather does not interfere, the project should be finished by July 12, according to Ocean City Engineer Terence J. McGean.

More than 80 percent of the $10 million beach-replenishment project will be paid by the Army Corps of Engineers, with remaining costs shared by the federal, state, Wicomico County and Ocean City governments.

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