Flooding soaks land, homes in county

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/Doug Bramble
Owner of Theodore’s Doug Bramble was able to paddle a kayak floating in the seven inches of water in the dining room of his restaurant in Madison.

CAMBRIDGE — Tropical Storm Melissa and a hunter’s moon combined over the weekend to create widespread flooding in Dorchester County and throughout much of the Chesapeake region.
The National Weather Service reported that the storm’s winds had pushed water into the bay, contributing to the event. Melissa is far out in the Atlantic, and there is no threat of landfall.

The hunter’s moon, so called because it is full in October when game is harvested, created unusually high tides. Saturday’s in particular overwhelmed many of the county’s low-lying areas.

Homes and businesses in the western and southern parts of Dorchester saw water in their yards and sometimes indoors. Doug Bramble, owner of Theodore’s at Madison Bay reported seven inches of water in his restaurant’s dining room on Saturday.

Mr. Bramble tried to turn lemons into lemonade, he said, and had a photo taken of himself paddling a kayak in his dining room as he used humor “to hide the agony,” he said.

In his business, he said, there was “basically water flowing through it.”

Motorists on MD 16 found they could just get through Church Creek, with high water at the intersection of MD 335 heading south. Farther along MD 335, water streaming across the blacktop slowed traffic to a crawl in a number of spots, and finally blocked passage at the crossroads where Gootee’s Marine is located.

Wingate resident Brandy Lynn posted online, urging motorists to drive slowly to respect the difficulties homeowners were experiencing — the wake from a passing vehicle was sometimes enough to send water across a yard and into a house. “This is the worst tide since Isabel,” she said.

Hurricane Isabel sideswiped the county in 2003, causing extensive damage to homes and businesses, especially in the marshy southern portion of Dorchester.

The National Weather Service at Wakefield, Va. extended a flood warning to 7 p.m. Sunday. “Water levels are slowly falling across the area, but additional moderate flooding will be possible” in some areas of the bay, a statement from the agency said. “Remember, ‘Turn around, don’t drown.’”

That advice wasn’t always heeded, with predictable results. Victoria Renehan posted Sunday that she “saw a driver stalled in Salisbury yesterday at Brew River restaurant area because she drove through a flooded road and killed the engine. Tow truck was picking up her car.”

Locals are familiar with water covering the roads, but visitors, including hunters in the season now in progress, are not always aware of the issues. Teresa Seabrease posted on the Banner’s social media page, “Please share with the people who aren’t from here, this tide is no joke. You just can’t run through this kind of water. If locals are going slowly down the road, there is a reason. We know where flood areas are. Don’t pass at 50 miles an hour at a clear spot to run up on a flood.”

The Dorchester County Department of Emergency Services (DES) on Sunday morning relayed the NWS alert, adding, “The most likely location for reaching moderate flood thresholds will be over southern sections of the county in the vicinity of Bishops Head.”

The department announced Saturday that Delmarva Power had decided to cut power to the Twin Point Cove Road area and Cooks Point Road area due to tidal flooding as a safety precaution. “This, we are being told, is or will effect 72 customers in these areas,” the county agency said in a statement, adding that power was expected to be restored by 11 p.m. Saturday.

“Choptank Electric states they have approximately 87 customers without power and have dispatched crews to repair and restore service,” DES said on Saturday. “We ask that everyone continue to check on your loved ones and neighbors, stay safe, and vigilant as we navigate through this event. Our teamwork and community togetherness is what makes Dorchester County a place we call home!”

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