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Ocean City

Town to look into used Humvee offering

(May 17, 2013) Given the city’s recent rash of severe storms and flooding, the town may soon be testing its tire-kicking skills with the acquisition of a retired military Humvee.

However, as is generally the case with used cars, consistency of product tends to decline with price, meaning the city may have to lower its expectations when it comes to a vehicle that is free, at least in theory.

“If you can go get it, basically it’s yours,” said Ocean City Police Department Captain Greg Guiton. “Free is never free, of course. There’s always some associated cost.”

Guiton pitched the idea to the city’s Police Commission this week of acquiring a used military vehicle that could patrol through deep to rescue stranded citizens during flooding such as Hurricane Sandy caused this past fall.

The federal government routinely offers military vehicles that are being rotated out of service for use by other state and local agencies. The vehicles are typically available to qualifying groups free of charge, as long as they pick them up themselves or pay for shipping costs.

“The cost for the Humvee as-equipped is zero. The expense starts with transportation and whatever you want to put on it,” Guiton said.

Such vehicles are not often available at military installations close to Ocean City, but Guiton noted that they are currently being offered at both Fort Meade and Dover Air Force Base, meaning that city employees could go check the vehicles out before committing to take them.

“If you can go look at them, it’s an advantage. Obviously, the condition is very important,” Guiton said.

“During Sandy, the National Guard gave us three Humvees and two Deuce-and-a-halfs (two-and-a-half ton trucks) and if you remember they really wanted those back,” said OCPD Capt. Michael Colbert. “It would reduce our need for outside assistance.”

Guiton proposed a number of options as far as outfitting the vehicle, and suggested the city could paint it to match the town’s “Mobile Command Center” emergency service bus. He also said that the Maryland State Police have equipped their Humvees with roof caps that offer additional weatherproofing for the notoriously leaky vehicles.

However, the commission’s elected officials generally took the ‘less is more stance’ as far as outfitting the vehicle, if a suitable one were to be found.

“I’m looking at it strictly for emergency evacuation,” said Mayor Rick Meehan, who rode in one during Hurricane Sandy.

“It was about as wet inside as it was outside, but that didn’t matter because the point was to go get somebody [who was stranded by the flooding],” Meehan said. “I’m not interested in it as a parade vehicle or in the paint or whatever … we’d better spend the money on tires and a snorkel.”

A so-called snorkel system would raise the vehicle’s air intake and exhaust, allowing it to operate even if the water line was above the normal height of its engine and tailpipe.

“I’m not into dolling it up for something that’s going to drive through saltwater,” agreed Council President Lloyd Martin. “It would be great to have one, but we’d need to evaluate the expense first.”

The commission agreed to recommend that the City Council approve sending city employees to Dover or Fort Meade to evaluate exactly how much it would cost the city to configure one of the available vehicles as desired.

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