The resort town of Rehoboth Beach, Del., which has a large gay population, was ordered evacuated Sunday night and the town’s mayor declared a storm emergency as Hurricane Sandy approached the Delaware coast.
Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks told the Blade late Monday morning that flooding so far has been limited to two downtown streets closest to the beach, but he said serious wind and flood damage could occur when the brunt of the storm hits the town Monday night and Tuesday.
“The town is closed down,” he said. “We have officers on patrol to make sure everyone is safe and property is protected.”
Camp Rehoboth, an LGBT community center and advocacy organization, and Proud Bookstore, the town’s gay bookstore, are among the businesses and organizations located within the evacuation zone. Both are located less than two blocks from the beach and could potentially be affected by flooding.
“We’re getting steady rain and occasional heavy gusts of wind,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Schott, who lives just outside the Rehoboth town limits and not in the evacuation zone.
“Friends are checking on each other,” he said. “We’re hoping for the best.”
Andy Staton, the gay candidate for a seat in the Delaware Senate in the Rehoboth area, said he has suspended his campaign for the next day or two and arranged for supporters to take down his campaign signs.
“We are concerned that signs and other objects could become projectiles and could cause some harm,” he said.
Staton said that, like Schott, he lives outside the town limits and was not required to evacuate his home.
“We put out a notice from our campaign Sunday night urging people to be safe,” he said.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell issued a statewide order early Monday closing all of the state’s highways and roads to non-emergency vehicles until the most serious effects of the storm subside.
As Rehoboth residents hunkered down in the midst of the storm, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney each announced the hurricane prompted them to put their campaigns on hold for Monday and Tuesday.
Obama returned to Washington from campaign appearances in various states, saying he would work with federal emergency officials to ensure that disaster relief programs were put in place in states hit hardest by the storm.
In D.C. and the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs, all federal and local government offices were ordered closed to the public, with only essential workers such as emergency personnel expected to report for work. Public schools and the Metro subway and bus system were also closed on Monday due to the impact of the storm.
Organizers of other election-related events also announced cancellations and postponements.
Among the events cancelled for Monday night was a D.C. fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the group leading the campaign for Maryland’s marriage equality law in a statewide referendum on Nov. 6. The event was scheduled to take place at Busboys and Poets restaurant at 14th and V Streets, N.W.