Ocean City, Md., Jersey Shore In Sandy's Path

Steve Inskeep speaks with NPR's Joel Rose in Asbury Park, N.J., and NPR's Larry Abramson in Ocean City, Md. The coastal towns are directly in the expected path of Hurricane Sandy.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Let's take a moment to keep things in perspective. The latest wind reports we have, from Hurricane Sandy, indicate winds going up to 90 miles per hour - which is not the most powerful hurricane ever. But the scale, the size, of this hurricane is huge. We already have this morning - with the eye of the storm still well out to sea - we have reports of thousands of people without power on Long Island; two tunnels closed - apparently, as a precaution - heading into Manhattan, in New York City. We've seen a photo from Atlantic City; a huge chunk of what appears to be boardwalk, floating inland from near the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

And NPR's Larry Abramson is in Ocean City, Maryland, and on the line now. Larry, what are you seeing and hearing?

LARRY ABRAMSON, BYLINE: The wind is really picking up - and I've probably said that several times this morning, Steve. But it's getting quite intense; 50 miles an hour, maybe, and much stronger gusts. And we're starting to experience some serious flooding here, in Ocean City, which - you know - is basically, an island a couple miles off the coast.

INSKEEP: Had most people evacuated Ocean City before this hit?

ABRAMSON: They have. You know, we just had a briefing from the mayor of Ocean City - Rick Meehan - and he said that they went door to door, trying to get everybody to evacuate. And everybody but about 200 people, has decided to leave. A few people have gone to shelters; others have gone inland - you know, to places like Washington, D.C., or Baltimore. But you know, Steve, during this briefing, it really drove home how much local officials end up bearing the brunt of these storms and - you know, working for days on end, clearing drains; roping off a fishing pier that just collapsed, here in Ocean City; putting out announcements, trying to get people to take the storm seriously. It's - for all of the big, national planning that goes on, this really is the work of thousands and thousands of officials of small towns, like Ocean City. And they were able to report that they've had no deaths, and no injuries. And I think we have to say, that's largely because they tried to get the word out as early as possible.

INSKEEP: And you talk about thousands of people, in thousands of communities. Let's go to another one. NPR's Joel Rose is up the coastline, in New Jersey; at Asbury Park, New Jersey. And Joel, what are you seeing this morning?

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Well, Steve, conditions have really deteriorated here, I would say, in the last hour. The wind has picked up. The rain is really coming down now. And, you know, it feels like the storm is definitely closing in on Asbury Park. You know, that said, people are still here. The city was not evacuated completely. And in fact, a lot of people are making their way up to the beach, to try to get a look at the sea. We were up at the beach a few minutes ago, and the crashing waves are definitely a sight to behold. Of course, the police would prefer that you admire them from a safe distance. And they're doing their best to keep people off the boardwalk.

INSKEEP: I want to ask about one, key thing before we go away here, gentlemen. And NPR's Jon Hamilton is in the studio here; can help us with this, I think. Jon, it seems to me - am I wrong? - that the path of the storm is critical here The eye will come ashore, at some point between Ocean City and New York City; somewhere in there.

JON HAMILTON, BYLINE: Right.

INSKEEP: And if you're north of that, is it going to be a lot worse than if you're south of that - is that correct?

HAMILTON: Yeah. Because storms rotate counterclockwise, the right side - or, as it turns west, it would be the north side - is what they call the strong side, where the winds are more intense.

INSKEEP: So Joel Rose, Asbury Park - at least the potential to be on the strong side. Are people worried?

ROSE: I - well, people are definitely prepared for the worst. You know, the - we were at a hardware store, where they've sold out of power generators and flashlights. People are, you know, preparing to stay in place for many days, if they have to, even without power.

INSKEEP: OK. Thanks very much. That's NPR's Joel...

ROSE: So yes, people are taking it seriously.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Joel Rose, as well as NPR's Larry Abramson. Thanks very much to you gentlemen. And thanks to NPR's Jon Hamilton, in our studios here. We'll continue to hear from them throughout this day, and no doubt throughout the days ahead.

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