WEEKEND #15, 2006

(Labor Day Weekend)

Labor Day Weekend Continues Despite Ernesto

Tropical Depression Ernesto could not stop Labor Day Weekend activities at the shore, but he left disarray, destruction and serious beach erosion in his wake.

The usual sounds of this peaceful holiday were replaced by grinding chain saws, limb mulchers, blowers, power tools and hammering by those making emergency building repairs.

The waves that accompanied the slow-moving storm eroded Rehoboth's beach, damaged or destroyed beach storage sheds, sand dunes and fencing. The awesome waves during the storm's peak were unlike those we've seen all summer.


Ernesto -- Before and After:









These are before and after pictures of Rehoboth Beach from the Henlopen jetty looking south (above), and north (below). The Thursday evening pictures appear on the left (before the storm's arrival) and on the right are Saturday's pictures (after the storm past).

The "before" pictures were taken farther out on the beach -- where the surf was before the storm. The beach now drops more steeply into the ocean. Rental storage sheds were destroyed, and all that remains of much dune fence are some cedar posts.










Ernesto During the Storm:

Below is what Friday afternoon looked like as Ernesto pounded the Rehoboth Beach coastline with heavy winds, and drove rain, sand, dirt, sea foam and construction debris as if they were dust.

These pictures don't do the powerful wind justice. On Friday afternoon, the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel WeatherBug site reported average winds out of the east and northeast between 44 and 48 m.p.h. and gusts up to 63 m.p.h. The rain total there for the day was 5.85 inches.

Ernesto's furry combined with high tide destroyed dune fencing and ate away at sand dunes which were less than a year old.









After Ernesto: Beach Patrol gear, rental chairs, umbrellas and "Beach Wheels" missing:

During the height of the storm on Friday, Rehoboth Beach lifeguards attempted to salvage the "Little Deauville" rental shed (below) which eventually succumbed to the storm. Ernesto significantly damaged or completely destroyed seven beach storage shacks on Rehoboth Beach. They were important to the beach patrol because backboards, signs, flags and other beach patrol gear is stored in the shacks. Gear remained missing on Sunday.

Rehoboth Beach's fleet of beach wheels, used by handicapped people to access the beach, was either damaged or missing entirely. On Monday, lifeguards were unable to locate any beach wheels, which cost more than $1000 each.


On Saturday, much of the debris from the dune fence and beach shacks was collected in the Deauville area (below).


Ernesto seemed to move through the area faster than forecasters predicted, but not fast enough. Below, left, is Ernesto on intellicast weather RADAR at 1 p.m. on Friday, and then again at 10 p.m., right. Even when the rain cleared, the rough surf continued to eat away at the beach.











The heaviest wind and rain couldn't stop determined exercise gurus. These men were a few of those diehards who appeared to continue their exercise routines. They ran past Silver Lake during the storm's peak on Friday afternoon.


Numerous areas suffered power failures. In some cases the power was out for more than a day. Around noon on Sunday, a resident on Dolphin Street in Ocean City told police they had been without power for the second day. The officer said the resident felt they were forgotten. Police discussing the outage over the radio said they share their concerns because they were out directing traffic.

The traffic signals failed on Route 1 between Rehoboth and Ocean View on Friday around 8:30 a.m. The traffic signals between Lewes and Ocean View, including those on Rehoboth Avenue, failed for about 30 minutes on Sunday. Rehoboth Beach officers manually controlled the intersections in town.

The Rehoboth Beach police dispatcher even said he had trouble contacting the power company around 7:45 p.m. on Friday. Hours later, much of Rehoboth and Dewey lost power around 11:30 p.m. That was supposedly because a primary service line failed on Route 1 in Indian Beach.

Ocean City got hit hard as well. Between 7 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday, Ocean City firefighters responded to more than 75 non-medical emergencies (the city typically has less than 10 such responses per day). These included fire alarms, stuck elevators, pole/transformer fires, wires/trees down, smoke investigations, roofs partially or entirely blown off, and damaged underground parking garages. Even a portion of the brick facade collapsed at the Ocean City firehouse on 129th Street.

In the Rehoboth area, Rehoboth Beach and DelDOT crews worked through the worst of the storm. Below, a DelDOT crew cuts a tree that had been leaning over Silver Lake Drive Friday afternoon. The Rehoboth street sweeper attempted to keep storm drains free of debris. No major flooding was reported in Rehoboth Beach. But Saint Louis Avenue in Ocean City flooded on either side of Ocean Gateway early Friday afternoon.



Rehoboth Beach lifeguards kept people close to shore, often no deeper than their knees, starting Thursday afternoon. No swimming was allowed on Friday and Saturday.

After the storm, on Saturday, lifeguards were forced to retreat and take up unconventional observation posts, such as boardwalk benches on Hickman Street, the top of a beach shack on Deauville, and the sand dune on Little Deauville.

Lifeguards, often frustrated by the persistence of visitors to get on the beach and even into the water, nearly exhausted the city's supply of CAUTION/CULDADO, DANGER, and POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS tape which they used to block beach access points.




Drag Volleyball Continues Despite Ernesto

Hundreds, perhaps even more than a thousand spectators, attended Rehoboth's traditional drag volleyball games on Sunday afternoon. The games took place at the far south edge of the city near Prospect Street and got underway around 1:10 p.m. The announcer said this was the 19th annual competition.


It's amazing how much difference a day makes. Below was Rehoboth Beach looking north from this area on Saturday.


Parking during Sunday's volleyball tournament was not easy to find, forcing some spectators to walk or bike for several blocks. These young entrepreneurs opened an iced tea/lemonade stand on the corner of King Charles Avenue and Saint Lawrence Street.


Yet Another Unauthorized Vehicle in Stockley Lifeguard Spot!


Blue Hen Towing had just arrived on Stockley Street to remove this Acura MDX on Sunday afternoon when the operator (yellow shorts) returned. He said he was so excited to find a parking space, he did not notice the LIFEGUARD PARKING ONLY sign which is posted 24 inches to the right of the center line, over the adjacent reserved parking space. He paid the show-up fee and accepted the parking ticket.

He may not have been the only person not to have seen the sign. Since July 1st, lifeguards have called police at least eight times to report unauthorized vehicles parked in this identical spot when returning from their lunch breaks.

Minutes after the Acura was reported on Sunday afternoon, lifeguards called in this unauthorized Ford Explorer Sport Trac (below) parked in the lifeguard parking space on Norfolk Street. The Explorer was wedged between two other vehicles and seemed to pose a towing challenge, but Coastal Towing successfully removed the vehicle. The Explorer's alarm sounded as it was towed to the city's impound lot. The sign reserving the two spaces is almost on the slightly-faded center line dividing the two spots.


Streets with reserved lifeguard parking typically use a single sign to designate the two spaces. In several cases, both this summer and last, some people ticketed and/or towed say the placement of the sign is unclear, particularly on Stockley and Saint Lawrence Streets.

The breakdown for lunch-time tow requests from reserved lifeguard parking spaces (since July 1st) is as follows:

One and often two officers typically spend between 30 and 50 minutes completing a tow slip and waiting for a tow truck while watching the vehicle. In a few cases the vehicle operator may return, but is written a fine and must pay a show-up fee for the towing company, even if the truck has not arrived. If the vehicle is towed, police spend additional time releasing the vehicle when the owner comes to claim it.


A Rehoboth Beach ticket writer found this Nissan parked at an expired meter on Lake Avenue Saturday around 4:45 p.m. The irony is the parking meter division offices are about 200 feet from this parking space. The operator returned, was directed to pay the fines at the parking meter offices, as well as a show-up fee for Coastal Towing which was caught in traffic on Route 1.


In another case, a Rehoboth Beach ticket writer discovered a Maryland vehicle which owed the city more than $300. He found it parked in the second block of Wilmington Avenue around 6:15 p.m. Sunday. Ironically, this vehicle had a $25 Dewey Beach police parking ticket on its windshield for being parked on a roadway. The operator did not show, so Blue Hen towed it to the city's impound lot.

A tow truck was just about to hook-up a vehicle on Monday around 11 a.m. which owed $165 plus the parking ticket just issued. The man returned when the tow truck arrived.

The final tow request of the season came at 7:30 p.m. on Monday for a Ford that was parked on Brooklyn Avenue near Funland. It had accumulated more than $150 in fines excluding the ticket just issued.

Parking meter enforcement will continue in Rehoboth Beach through midnight of September 17. Parking in parking-permitted areas ended Labor Day at 5 p.m.

Army Band Audible for Blocks


The music was audible well into the Pines when The Volunteers of the U.S. Army started playing the Star-Spangled Banner Wednesday night from the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand. The group brought along some of its own sound equipment.

End of Season Coast Guard Stats

C.G. Sector Field Office Eastern Shore, Rescue totals, 2003 through 2006

Sector Field Office Eastern Shore includes the five Coast Guard stations listed which cover the Delmarva shore south of Cape Henlopen. Station Wachapreague was formerly Station Parramore Beach. Some rescue incidents are managed at the sector level while others are handled by the individual stations.  The seasonal count is the search and rescue case total for the period beginning Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through late August. The 2005 and 2006 totals were computed through Sept.1, while the 2003 and 2004 were computed through Aug. 29.

Coast Guard Unit
2006 Season
FY 06

2005 Season

FY 05

2004 Season

 FY 04 2003 Season FY 03
S. F. O. Eastern Shore




218 126 201
Station Indian River Inlet, DE




111 109 147
Station Ocean City, MD




242 161 360
Station Chincoteague, VA




120 60 106
Station Wachapreague, VA




82 40 82

Statistics courtesy of Jeff Fox, Search & Rescue Controller for Coast Guard Sector Field Office Eastern Shore.

Ocean City Police, Calls for Police Service, 2003-2005

Ocean City Police PFC Barry Neeb provides the total for calls for police service for June, July and August for the past three seasons. "This is a little higher than last year," PFC Neeb notes, but "not high enough to give an explanation though."

33,237 2005

30,246 2004

30,930 2003