REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — In the run-up to Labor Day Weekend, this popular summer resort town should be teeming with tourists. Instead, Rehoboth Beach is a ghost town, following an evacuation order from Gov. Jack Markell, prompted by Hurricane Irene.
Residents and visitors were ordered to evacuate by 7 a.m. Saturday. As of Friday evening, most shops and restaurants along Rehoboth Avenue were closed or boarded up. A handful of restaurants and bars stayed open Friday night, including the gay-owned Purple Parrot and L Bar. The Blue Moon’s windows and doors were boarded up.
A small group of local gay residents gathered at the Parrot Friday night to swap stories of storm preparation and debate the merits of riding it out.
MORE IN THE BLADE: REHOBOTH’S ENDLESS SUMMER
Traffic was jammed along Route 1 north throughout the day Friday as visitors and locals heeded the evacuation order. Customers encountered long lines at banks and gas stations on their way out of town.
The town is mostly closed Saturday and Irene is expected to arrive overnight bringing high winds, six or more inches of rain and a potentially destructive storm surge. Bayside residents were bracing for flooding and nearby beach communities of Dewey, Fenwick and Ocean City, Md., were also evacuated.
A 5K race to benefit the CAMP Rehoboth community center scheduled for Sunday was rescheduled to Sunday, Sept. 4; registration will begin at 6 a.m. and the race kicks off at 7:30.
Meanwhile, those gathered at the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association convention in nearby Philadelphia faced an uncertain trip home, as Irene has triggered the cancellation of thousands of flights. Amtrak service is disrupted throughout the busy northeast corridor, Greyhound has cancelled many buses and even subway systems in New York and Philadelphia were closing.
In Washington, the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication and related events scheduled for this weekend were postponed. Mayor Vincent Gray, along with Govs. Martin O’Malley in Maryland and Robert McDonnell in Virginia, declared a state of emergency. Widespread power outages are expected in D.C. in the wake of the storm.