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Tropical Storm Ophelia Erodes Ocean City Beaches

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Tropical Storm Ophelia battered Ocean City beaches in September including this one at Fifth Street.

By MADDY VITALE

Tropical Storm Ophelia brought rains and wind gusts to Ocean City throughout the weekend.

“She” also took a lot away – sand to be specific – which was swept back into the churning ocean, leaving erosion in its wake.

Some downtown beaches, beginning at Fifth Street, saw erosion. Pools of ocean water puddled in areas of Fifth that would typically be a spot bathers use to lounge on.

City workers used front end loaders to move the sand back to the dunes in some areas. In other areas the beaches looked more like moonscapes with swirls of sand.

Trish and Jeff Morgan look at the water’s edge.

Jeff and Trish Morgan, of Langhorne, Pa., sat in their favorite vacation beach spot at Fifth Street beach.

The only difference was they were seated much closer to the water since chunks of sand were cut away due to the erosion from the weekend storm.

“I’m surprised,” Trish said, but also added that it was not really as bad as she thought it might be.

The couple looked out at the beach, which appeared vastly different from the one they saw just months ago with its swaths of powdery sand.

“It looked a lot different in the summer than today,” Jeff said.

A nearly buried beach mat at Fifth Street beach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of evaluating bids for a replenishment project slated for the fall for southern Ocean City.

The plan would be to place 257,000 of cubic yards on the beaches from 45th to 59th Street, according to Army Corps spokesman Steve Rochette.

Last November through the U.S. Army Corps and city, Ocean City beaches received about 1.5 million cubic yards of fresh sand in the north end and the downtown area of the island stretching from the Seaview Road jetty to 14th Street.

Throughout the year, the city maintains the beaches and works to put back the sand continually being cut away by coastal storms. But after Ophelia, visitors to Ocean City were stunned by the erosion.

Sisters Emily Lentz, of Elizabethtown, Pa., and Sarah Shipley, of Palmyra, Pa., sat in beach chairs watching the waves at Eighth Street beach.

Sisters Sarah Shipley, left, and Emily Lentz lounge at Eighth Street beach.

They came for a vacation on Friday and planned to return home Monday.

And while they knew that Tropical Storm Ophelia was bound to bring soggy weather, they would come no matter what.

They came in remembrance of their mother, Elizabeth Lentz, who passed away in March.

“Our mom loved it here,” Emily, 45, said. “We are here to celebrate her.”

“We have been coming since we were kids,” Sarah, 47, noted.

When the sisters saw the condition of the beaches, however, they admitted that they were a bit “shocked.”

“It’s a little mind blowing. It’s something I haven’t seen before,” Sarah said of the extent of the erosion.

Emily added, “I’ve never seen it like this before.”

Water pools in areas of erosion.
Some parts of the beaches look like moonscapes where workers appear to have smoothed out the erosion.