ASSATEAGUE, Md. (WBOC/AP)- Assateague State Park Ranger Adam Stachowiak said he's "sandblasted and soaking wet" as staffers prepare the park for stormy weather.
With a storm surge, Stachowiak said the ocean reached the base of the dune on the barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean by midday Friday, water was above the platform at the marina and sand had blown into the campground. The wind was steady at about 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. He says they've already lost a few signs to the wind.
Workers have cut power to facilities at the park and removed or secured anything that might blow or float away. Officials closed the day use area Friday morning, instead of waiting until noon as originally planned, helping to minimize risks for visitors while workers focus on preparations.
During big storms, Stachowiak says the island's famous ponies hunker down in thicker forested areas on the bay side and circle up tight together.
With forecasters expecting Hurricane Joaquin to head further east than before, they're expecting the next 24 hours to be the worst, but they are getting ready for several days of storms.
Stachowiak says, "We're planning for the worst so we don't feel like there's more we could have done."
Officials say Point Lookout State Park Fishing Pier is also closed until Wednesday due to high winds.