Near-historic flooding, high winds lashing Sussex County

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Flood water surrounds homes in the Oak Orchard area. (Indian River Volunteer Fire Company photo).

SUSSEX COUNTY – Potentially record-breaking coastal flooding, near-hurricane force winds and a mixture of pelting snow, sleet and rain are thrashing parts of Sussex County Saturday from the season’s first major winter storm, which threatens to continue its assault on the East Coast before slowly subsiding in the next 18 hours.

A winter storm warning, coastal flood warning, and high wind warning remain in effect for Sussex County through Sunday morning, Jan. 24.

Total snowfall amounts of 2 to 12 inches, from southeast to northwest, are possible, as well as tidal flooding in coastal areas running more than 4 feet above normal. Meantime, winds of 50 mph, with gusts to hurricane-force of 74 mph, are possible into Saturday night.

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An emergency worker assists a motorist encountering high water. (Indian River Volunteer Fire Company photo).

A state of emergency remains in effect statewide.

At this time, no evacuations have been ordered. Gov. Jack Markell has kept in place the Level 1 driving advisory for Sussex County; motorists are asked to avoid travel if at all possible.

As expected, the major effects of this nor’easter in Sussex County have been significant flooding – a near-record level of 9.2 feet at Lewes at the 8 a.m. high tide, just shy of the 9.22-foot record set in the historic March 1962 nor’easter.

Numerous dune breaches have occurred along the Atlantic coast, forcing the closure of SR 1 south of Dewey Beach; low-lying communities around the Inland Bays are experiencing significant flooding; and nearly 8,000 Delaware Electric Cooperative and Delmarva Power customers are without power throughout the county, largely due to downed trees and power lines.

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Sussex Central High School in Georgetown has been designated an emergency shelter have for any residents in critical need.

Due to the deteriorating conditions and the storm’s effects, Sussex County and Delaware emergency planners have designated one shelter facility for any residents in critical need. The designated shelter, which opened at 12 p.m. Saturday, is: Sussex Central High School, 26026 Patriots Way, Georgetown, DE. (NOTE: Pets accepted).

Those visiting the shelter should remember to take adequate clothing, medications, sleeping materials, and food for themselves, their families and/or their pets (where accepted). Shelters will be staffed by the American Red Cross of the Delmarva Peninsula (www.redcrossdelmarva.org). Anyone needing assistance relocating to the shelter should contact the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center’s storm hotline at (302) 856-7366.

Officials at the Sussex County EOC, which activated at 6 a.m. Saturday, continue to monitor the storm and are in constant contact with state emergency planners, various agencies and forecasters for the latest information.

Meantime, the Delaware National Guard has pre-positioned equipment, including heavy duty vehicles, to assist in any storm-related issues.

The public is reminded to stay tuned to local television and radio stations, as well as the Sussex County website at www.sussexcountyde.gov, for updated information. The public also should monitor the National Weather Service, at www.weather.gov/phi for the latest forecasts.

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Potentially record flooding along Delaware’s coast is possible with high tides and wind from the winter storm that is engulfing the eastern United States. (Indian River Volunteer Volunteer Fire Company photo).

Meantime, Sussex County offers a variety of social media outlets, which are a great resource for up-to-date storm information.

Please follow along at: www.facebook.com/SussexCountyDE, www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEOC, and www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEMS on Facebook; and www.twitter.com/sussexde_govt, www.twitter.com/SussexCtyDE_EOC, and www.twitter.com/SussexCoDE_EMS on Twitter.

Anyone with non-emergency questions or in need of additional information can call the Sussex County EOC’s storm information hotline at (302) 856-7366.

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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