Delaware beaches fare well after winter storm (video)

 About a block of boardwalk was damaged after the weekend storm.(Zoe Read/WHYY)

About a block of boardwalk was damaged after the weekend storm.(Zoe Read/WHYY)

Rehoboth Beach began repairs following the weekend’s storm, but the city remains in fair shape.

Crews were out all day in Rehoboth pushing sand away from sidewalks and the boardwalk after it drifted away from the ocean during the weekend’s storm

Heavy wind, rain and mild snow caused damage to about a block of boardwalk, and there was some sand loss at Delaware’s beaches. However, business owners, residents and state officials say the city of Rehoboth fared well.

“We spent, between the federal government and the state, tens of millions of dollars in recent years fortifying this beach, fortifying this town, and the question is, ‘Did it work?’ And we can look around say, ‘It worked,’” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware.

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“The boardwalk’s here, the buildings are here, the homes are here, the sewer system is intact, the roads are here and the dunes are doing their job.”

Jennifer Gummel, co-owner of American Pie, said she had never seen such high waves in her life as during the storm—but her pizzeria remained open. While other businesses shut down on Saturday, American Pie flourished as delivery remained a popular choice—picking up about 20 percent from the previous weekend.

“We were actually pushing for delivery, we didn’t want people to come out, and it seemed to work,” Gummel said.

She said she expected more snow than what Rehoboth received, but there were some dangerous icy situations.

“People outside were slipping because the ice was under the snow and they didn’t know it,” Gummel said. “So that was the worst part of it.”

Nicola Pizza closed Saturday because owner Nick Caggiano worried about his staff’s safety. Business picked up on Sunday, however.

“I think people wanted to come out and see the ocean, and today so far has been a good day because school is out and people want to see the ocean,” Caggiano said.

Richard and Harriett Slaughter of Easton, Md. drove down to the beach to make sure their beach house was in good shape. They said they expected more snow than what they found.

“The house and everything are fine and that’s the main thing,’ Harriet Slaughter said. “We’re a little ways off the beach, so we we’re fairly safe, but we have friends who have places along the ocean and they look like they’re okay.”

Craig Hendrickson of Alexandria, Va. And his wife headed to their beach house in Lewes to avoid getting stuck in the deep snow that hit the D.C. area. He said the worst part of the weather was the high winds.

“The house was shaking all weekend from Friday night to Sunday morning, but we didn’t have any damage, fortunately,” he said.

One block of the boardwalk is in need of repair, but the city hopes the remainder will be cleaned up and open by the end of the week. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will measure the beach in the next few weeks and begin bids to repair the dune.

“Our conversation today is about sand loss—not about the boardwalk loss, not about infrastructure,” said Tony Pratt of DNREC.

“Businesses are open, people are serving food, and people are getting hot meals. There are a lot of people enjoying the storm from a safe distance behind a dune—I think that’s success for the state.”

Carper said spending money on dunes will save on repair costs in the long run.

“We took the knockout punch and we’re still standing and it’s very encouraging, but it’s just a reminder we need to continue to make these kinds of investments, and it’s a shared investment with the state and federal government.”

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