We’ll All Float On

A boat appears to sit on top of the pier at Ventnor Marina in Pasadena due to massive tidal flooding. Photo by Stan Sheetz.

By Meg Walburn Viviano

It was a Monday morning staff meeting like no other. I sat in our Eastport office with my laptop open, sweat rolling down my back, biceps and forearms sore. The rest of the CBM Bay Weekly team shuffled in, some with work gloves and boots, all looking fatigued.

We’d just spent the first two hours of the workday carrying hundreds of boxes—some waterlogged, some damp, some mercifully dry—from a temporary storage area that was, unfortunately, touched by floodwaters during last weekend’s near-historic flooding event.

We spaced out like an assembly line to try and save Chesapeake Bay Media’s various publications and archives, along with other equipment, from their damp home. As luck would have it, the elevator was out of order that morning, so each box had to be carried up four flights of stairs. By the time it was over, my Apple Watch indicated I’d climbed nearly 3 miles carrying the boxes—and that was just my portion of the assembly line! It’s not how any of us hoped to spend our Monday morning, but it was a true team effort, with everyone huffing and puffing side by side. (And a restorative carryout pizza went far in bringing us back to life.)

The three-plus days of dangerously high tides that covered Chesapeake Country’s waterfront brought back memories of Hurricane Isabel in 2003—from the feet of water that rose into shops near City Dock to the boats floating high above their slips, lines pulled taut.

Eighteen years ago, just like today, neighbors pulled together to help one another. At our house on Cypress Creek, up the Magothy River, water crept so high I remember my dad securing our sailboat’s mast to a tree in the middle of the backyard. We fared better than most properties on the creek, though, thanks to our high pier and pilings. My dad launched our dinghy to help other neighbors re-adjust and secure their boat lines, too.

This time around, while water levels were thankfully not quite as high, the community went into recovery mode right away. The last peak high tide was still coming in when Anne Arundel County launched a Disaster Recovery Relief Program for businesses affected by the floods. Pasadena, Annapolis, Deale and Galesville all dealt with water coming over docks and into buildings. In some cases in South County, it crept right into restaurants. In Calvert County, Solomons saw a new record water level and water breached North Beach’s boardwalk.

As you’ll read in our feature story, planners are already working on future solutions to prevent damage from the increasingly frequent coastal flooding we’re seeing in Chesapeake Country. Some of these plans will take years, so in the meantime, it’s a good thing we can all work together to overcome flood events.

When you see photos of a waterlogged business in this issue or read about favorite waterfront spots forced to close for cleanup, make a note to give that business some extra love. They could use the support, as sandbags only go so far.