Ocean City Today
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OC assists Kent Island after storm

Resort sends Bob Rhode to help with recovery, local volunteers also lend hand
By Katie Tabeling | Jul 27, 2017
Courtesy of: Amanda Lewis CERT Team members, like those pictured, responded to Queen Anne's County last week to assist with storm relief.

(July 28, 2017) Thirty local and state agencies answered the distress call for Queen Anne’s County when a tornado touched down early Monday night, and Ocean City was one of them.

Emergency Services Management Coordinator Bob Rhode was deployed to Stevensville around 6 a.m., hours after an F2 tornado touched down on Kent Island. The twister traveled on the ground roughly two miles near Stevensville around 1:30 a.m., bringing 125 mph winds and torrential rain.

One person was injured by flying debris during the storm. Several wood-framed townhomes had the upper floors entirely lifted off along with the roof and several other homes had either roofs lifted off and tossed or received other damage, according to the National Weather Service.

“The damage was substantial, comparable to other situations I’ve seen,” said Rhode, who has worked with Ocean City emergency services for roughly 30 years. “Thankfully, there were only two businesses damaged, and one had insurance. The other was a fruit stand, and they’re out for the summer. It’s mainly the houses that were damaged from trees falling on them and the winds. We’re trying to get a grasp of how many.”

Rhode is a member of one of Maryland’s regional incident management teams that immediately respond to emergency situations in the state. While at the Queen Anne’s Emergency Operations Center, his role was to manage planning and support operations and to break down the big picture into 12-hour windows.

“In shifts, we receive reports to see where we stand in terms of recovery and our resources,” Rhode said. “But the idea is to look in our crystal ball and see in the future to bring people back to where they were. We’re looking ahead for several items, like where the weather is and how we are with utilities. It gets pretty complex.”

Nearing the end of Rhode’s second day in Stevensville, he said roughly 150 people had no power in the immediate area. That shows a significant decrease in outages over time, as 5,998 people that were out of power as of 10 p.m. on Monday.

To assist with the relief effort, six Ocean City Community Response Emergency Team (CERT) members went to Kent Island to provide support. Rhode, who manages training, said that CERTs are trained in CPR, traffic management, crowd control and various emergency services, but the six spent hours passing out water and ice to those in need.

The CERT team was there from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., and often made deliveries to those who couldn’t come to the distribution point.

“Sometimes that’s what it’s about, neighbor helping neighbor,” Rhode said.

Rhode returned to Ocean City late Tuesday night after his shift ended. By that point, his piece in assisting Kent Island was done.

“The roads are pretty clear by this point, and while people might not have cable, they’ll have power,” he said. “The next step is to bring insurance assessors in one spot to reach those whose cars were damaged. The end goal is to get everyone in Queen Anne’s County to back to where they were before the storm.”

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