Pat Haffert and his family were starting to eat dinner at their oceanfront house in Sea Isle City when the piling supporting their home, pounded for hours by waves washing away the surrounding sand, gave way.
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If a northeast storm of similar magnitude as the March Storm of
1962 were to hit today, the high-water mark likely would top nine
feet, about a half-foot higher than 50 years ago, due to sea level
After the water receded, I pushed a rabbit out of the crotch of a wild cherry tree.
The tree was the only place it could find to rest after swimming for hours in the waist high water next to our home at the end of Leeds Ave in Pleasantville. From the second floor I could only see water to the east. Even one side of the railroad had washed away.
I remember standing at the corner on 23rd Street in Surf City waiting for a school bus that never came. After while we walked up to the beach and saw oceanfront homes collapsing.
Most of the damage, though, was north of Surf City, through North Beach and Harvey Cedars and Loveladies. There was total devastation there.
The National Guard was stationed on the Surf City-North Beach border for weeks, keeping out potential looters.
As kids, this was high adventure - sneaking by the National Guard into this vast wasteland. The entire contents of houses scattered everywhere. At the time it seemed so cool. Seeing how other people lived through what they had lost.
I will say that while the National Guard couldn't keep us away, the presence of men in uniforms carrying guns kept away any thoughts of actually taking any of those belongings. Our house strangely had no damage.
The water never reached us, even though we were on the ocean block, so it was hard for us as kids to understand the hardship, and to realize that this was the most devastating event we'd likely ever see on the island. It wasn't until years later that I even started to grasp what it meant for so many to lose so much.
My grandparents lived in Ventnor at the time and although I was only little, I remember visiting shortly after and seeing the devasation all across the island. Scary at the time......to think of it happening again is scarier yet.
We lived on N. South Carolina Ave. woke up on the morning of the storm with water every where. Had been in AC for about 3 years and was ready to go back to North Carolina, never seen any thing like this before.
Living at 12th street and Asbury Avenue, trapped during the flooding, no heat or running water for 2 days, watching a boat going down the street from our 2nd floor windows, watching parts of the house on the corner float down the alley, and the gas station on fire. yeah... real good times.
I remember the sky turning orange from the gas station fire at 10th and West Avenue the first night of the storm, the following day we (my mom, sister Luanne and myself) were picked up by the NJ National Guard and taken to the OCHS Gym.
My father was OC Firefighter, didn't see him for days. We lived on Pennlyn Place.
Roger Howell - yes!! remember! My dad tied ropes around us so we could watch the fire from the porch , it was windy and rain was blowing sideways, could not believe the fireworks from the fire!
I was 6 years old, living in northern NJ. I remember me, and my older brother and sister at the window, watching an ancient apple tree - much larger than our 3-story house - start to sway - its trunk, that is.
We yelled out to the adults - but by the time they arrived, the tree fell over - right onto our neighbor's house. I guess it's pure luck I'm here today.
I was 6 , baby brother born with eye problems. We were in margate between the ocean and bay. Firemen went down the street in rowboats. Water up to the door Surprised my mom didn't have a nervous breakdown
Amazing devastation. My grandparents had to evacuate (Long Beach Island) but could not take their dog.
When they came back he escaped out the front door then and drank contaminated water. That was the end of poor Patches--my favorite childhood dog (I loved riding him, big friendly springer spaniel) became a casualty of the storm.
I lived on Maine Avenue in Atlantic City and was 5 years old. We rode out the first part of the storm. I remember the parking meters and cars being covered with water and pieces of the Boardwalk floating down the street.
The water came up to the top step of our house, which was right across the street from the beach and Capt. Starn's, but never came into the actual house.
We evacuated to New Jersey Avenue during what I guess was the eye of the storm when the water went down at low tide.
When we returned, the contents of our shallow basement were distributed about our backyard, but the house itself withstood the storm pretty well to the best of my memory.
I was only 5, but I remember it well. One of the reasons that I decided to ride out Hurricane Irene.
I remember it well!!! My 7th birthday was March 4th, 1962 and we lived in the center of Ocean City. The ocean LITERALLY met the bay over most of the island.
Houses in the South end of Ocean City were lifted off their foundations and moved across the street.
Our neighborhood (in the center of Ocean City), was populated by entire families in which most of the men were civil servants/city workers; they were at work for DAYS!
Only the old folks, women & children were at home. The water was lapping across the porch toward the front door, boats were floating down our street, there was no power...and there were no birthday parties for my cousin Jule & me!
The WORST: There was a furniture refinishing shop and gas station on the corner of 10th & West, which caught fire during the height of the storm. My Dad, uncle, et al were working that fire...in COLD waist to chest-high water.
We had no power and even with the (aluminum) blinds & curtains drawn, it was lit up like daylight in our house. FIREBALLS were shooting southward around West & Haven Avenues... directly toward the HUGE tanks at the GAS CO. plant at 11th & West. We thought we were a-gonner!!! SCAAAAARY!!
When my parents purchased another home in the late 60's they made sure it was at one of the highest points in town so they'd never have to go through that nightmare again!
We were living at 1119 Drexel Avenue, Atlantic City and I was 6 years old. I remember the water rushing down Drexel Avenue like a river.
We didn't have electricity or heat for 3 days and my brother Boydie and I had to sleep in our coats.
The water came to our second of third step to our porch, but didn't come on the porch or in the house. My father got stuck at work and I remember sitting in the window crying, thinking he had drowned in all that water.
I also remember that when the storm was over it was such a nice sunny day.
I was 10. I recall in Cape May Point, huge old houses that were actually on the beach. 4 of them. All gone. The one that did survive was moved inland 200 ft or so after that storm, it is the rectory for the nun's summer retreat.
I saw tide swirling all around and under the convent building. I walked along Beach Drive in Cape May the day after, there was no road surface at all, and the man holes were way above my head.
My family and I saw Convention Hall gutted with the tattered curtains from the stage blowing in the wind. EVERYTHING on Beach Drive was destroyed, tsunami damage.
I woke early on the first day of the Storm. The weather forecast the night before was for north east winds and rain, our typical Nor’easter. I was living in Northfield at the time with my parents.
The first thing I heard on the radio was the announcement that the police had closed the White & Black Horse pikes leading into to Atlantic City due to flooding, the A. C. Expressway had not been build yet.
My Father was just pulling out of the driveway, I tried to call to him to tell him not to use those roads to go to work but I was too late. Our family owned and operated the Jefferson Hotel located on Kentucky Avenue, some 400 feet from the boardwalk.
I knew by the news reports on the radio that I needed to get moving as fast as I could to try to get to the Margate Bridge so I could get to work. I got dressed as fast as I could while all the time listing to the radio.
I drove south on Shore road, when I got to the Margate Bridge road there were several Northfield police cars blocking the road. I asked if the Longport Bridge was open, they told me that it was but would probably close soon. The water was rising and the Storm was getting worse.
Once again, I drove south on Shore road, When I got to the Longport Blvd. I saw the road was open. I started to carefully drive over the blvd. The road was awash with about 1 inch of water on the Somers Point end. I thought to myself, it looks ok. I saw another car coming from Longport; I stopped him to ask about the road and if it was passable, he replies that” you’re crazy if you try”.
I continued. At times I thought I should turn around because of the water washing across the road caused a two foot high wave on the south shoulder. I was half way across when I decided to continue. I made it to Atlantic Avenue; the road was clear at the time all the way to The Jefferson Hotel located on Kentucky Ave.
I think it is safe to say that I was the last person to get to Absecon Island on that mooring during the first high tide and the beginning of what has become to be known as THE MARCH STORM of 1962.
I was the only one that made it to work. I slept in a chair in the Hotel lobby for 3 days. We filled up with the Atlantic City Electric Company line crew and other employees. They were working to try to restore the electricity to many parts of the island.
We were the only Hotel still open. Hotels like the Traymore, Ambassador, Dennis, Shelburne and other Boardwalk Hotels, including the Haddon Hall (now Resorts Hotel and Casino) all closed due to ocean water flooding there basements where the power plants were located. It was a devastating 3 days.
It is hard to explain in words the devastation the March 1962 Storm did to our island and up and down the coast.