REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – Most residents in the coastal communities along the Delaware and Maryland shore were spared the harshest of Sandy’s destruction, but some areas showed evidence of the storm’s strength.
The road approaching an old bridge at Indian River Inlet, which connects Rehoboth and Bethany beaches along the Delaware coast, was a pile of broken concrete by the time Sandy’s waves had receded.
The bridge, which was declared structurally unsound and prone to storm damage, had been a source of anxiety for residents for many years, prompting construction of a new bridge, which opened to traffic this year. That new bridge stood tall and the road leading up to it remained intact, though covered in sand.
The image of the two bridges – one shiny and new, the other blocked by a pile of rubble – provided an ideal photo opportunity for Delaware officials, who used it as a backdrop for a news conference.
“We were worried about the bridge, that’s why we built a new one,” state Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf said. “So, good call.”
Gov. Jack Markell praised the foresight of Delaware officials, including U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, in getting a replacement bridge built.
He said despite damage to the old bridge, and flooding in other areas, Delaware had been spared the worst of the storm.
“Overall, we certainly fared better than what forecasts had predicted,” Markell said. There was flooding in some parts of the state, but there were no fatalities and most homes suffered no damage.
“We’re just really blessed,” Carper said.
By Tuesday afternoon, crews were clearing piles of sand that had been pushed onto the road approaching the Indian River Inlet bridge. An excavator was digging pieces of broken concrete from the sand along the beach.
The state had been preparing to demolish the old bridge, said Delaware Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt.
“Sandy has started some of that work for us,” Bhatt quipped.
[FOR THE RECORD, 6:45 p.m. Oct. 1: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that an old bridge at Indian River Inlet had crumbled during a storm. The approach to the bridge crumbled, but the bridge remained intact.]