Milford officials and business owners were breathing a tentative sigh of relief Monday night with the city so far having been spared from the worst Hurricane Sandy had to offer.
“There’s been some substantial flooding on Front Street for sure, but I think we’ve been pretty lucky as far as damage goes,” Milford Public Works Director Brad Dennehy said at about 9 p.m. “We’re still waiting for the end of high tide, but right now it looks like things could have been a lot worse.”
According to the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, Hurricane Sandy caused 60 mph winds, with gusts up to 75 mph, as it came ashore about 25 miles south of Atlantic City, N.J. about 5:30 p.m.
Yet the Mispillion River broke free of its banks in downtown Milford about noon, causing numerous road closures, including Northeast and Northwest Front streets, Park Avenue and South Church Street.
Although high tide was expected to arrive around 9:30 p.m., several residents and downtown business owners said the floodwaters seemed to have crested before infiltrating shops, churches and homes.
“I think we dodged a bullet with this one,” said Nelson Gray, the owner of Gray Electronics at 215 N. Rehoboth Blvd. “We had some flooding under the door, but not as bad as I expected. If it doesn’t get any worse than this I think we’ll be fortunate.”
David Shockley, the pastor at Jesus Love Temple on South Walnut Street, said the church also has fared well so far.
“We only had a little bit of water come over the drains, but we turned on some pumps and did some preventative things, and so far, we’re doing pretty good,” he said. “I think we’re blessed, because there are a lot of people out there who experienced a lot of damage today and our hearts go out to them.”
Scott Angelucci said his art studio and the Mispillion Art League’s space on Park Ave also appears to have been spared the worst.
“I was last down there about 3 p.m. and we’re still going through high tide again now, but we’re riding it out and hopefully everything is still okay,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of rain and some high winds, but it really hasn’t been like the storm of 1962 like I expected.”
Although Monday wasn’t as bad as many expected, Milford still isn’t out of danger completely
While the storm tracked farther north than initially expected, it was still close enough to give Sussex County some of the storm’s strongest effects, with moderate to severe tidal flooding and ocean surges, county officials said.
Up to 9 inches of rain have been reported in some areas, with the bulk of the storm not expected to taper off until Tuesday morning.
But even if Milford was sparred the worst that the storm had to offer, there are still days of clean up left to go, Dennehy said.
“Our street crews are going to have their work cut out for them clearing the storm drains of debris after all this is over,” he said. “The guy who runs the street sweeper is going to be busy for sure.”