The devastation unleashed by Hurricane Sandy along the Atlantic coast between Virginia and New York bypassed Rehoboth Beach on Monday, generating a collective sigh of relief from residents and businesses in the Delaware resort town that’s popular with the LGBT community in the D.C. and Baltimore area.
“We’re very, very fortunate down here in Rehoboth Beach,” the town’s police chief, Keith Banks, told the Blade on Tuesday.
“What we have is minor debris and some trees down,” said Banks. “We’ve got sand across the boardwalk, sand in the roadways, and some sand erosion and breaches in some of the dune areas. Some gutters were off and some shingles were down,” he said. “But overall, we made out very well.”
Banks said Rehoboth Mayor Sam Cooper lifted an evacuation order requiring all businesses to close and all residents in the downtown area to leave as the storm approached.
He said he was aware of no damage to homes or businesses on Baltimore Avenue on the second block beyond the boardwalk, where the LGBT community center Camp Rehoboth, the Proud LGBT bookstore and two gay bars are located.
Gay Democratic activist Peter Schott, who lives just outside the Rehoboth town limits, concurred with Banks’ assessment. He said he ventured out early Tuesday evening.
“I was surprised about how little damage there was while driving around,” said Schott. “Businesses were open and people were out. We dodged the bullet here.”
Schott said the electric power went out in his neighborhood for about nine hours on Monday night.
In D.C., Sandy brought heavy rain and sustained winds and closed schools and the federal government. Minor damage was reported but nothing compared to the deluge that hit New York. The New York Stock Exchange closed for two days and schools remained closed as of Wednesday. Sandy also caused widespread damage to New York’s gay-popular Fire Island.
The National Weather Service reported seven homes in Davis Park, which is Fire Island’s easternmost community, washed out to sea during high tide on Monday night. A firefighter in Ocean Beach, a village with roughly 150 year-round residents to the west of the gay resorts of Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, told the Washington Blade the storm damaged or destroyed up to 40 oceanfront homes.
Additional reporting by Michael K. Lavers.