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.
The house lurched. Dishes went flying. Children and adults were thrown from their chairs. China cabinets and the refrigerator doors flew open. The chaos resembled a scene from the movie “Titanic.”
Haffert’s father ordered his wife to “take the children and run.”
Pat Haffert, then 12, his siblings and cousins scrambled from the precariously perched house. They waded through thigh-deep frigid floodwaters, finding safety at a neighbor’s house. The adults soon followed.
That was the evening of March 6, 1962. By next afternoon, all that was left of 5006 Marine Place was a pile of sticks and a soggy couch.
Fifty years ago this week, the March Storm of 1962 parked over the ocean and battered the Mid-Atlantic coast, from North Carolina to Cape Cod, for three days, killing at least 18 people in New Jersey. Many of those who lived through it said there was little warning from weather forecasters — modern forecasting tools, including satellites, did not yet exist. Floodwaters rose quickly — and never went down because strong winds kept the tide from receding out of the bays.
Waves ran as high as 25 feet, according to the book “Great Storms of New Jersey,” written by Larry Savadove and Margaret Buchholtz, and sent surges of water onto the beach, washing away dunes, boardwalks, bulkheads and houses. Wind gusts were up to 84 mph.
Mainland neighborhoods near tidal waterways were under several feet of water. On many barrier islands, the ocean met the bay in the streets. Much of the oceanfront real estate, from Cape May to Sea Bright, was left in ruins.
Damage, in 1962 dollars, was estimated at $260 million. Adjusted for inflation, that is the equivalent of nearly $2 billion today.
In the 50 years since the storm, the region’s coastal population has more than doubled. Property values have soared, lots have been subdivided. Wetlands have been filled, and the bayfront has been developed and bulk-headed.
Beaches in many municipalities have been artificially widened, and expansive dunes have been erected. Building codes have been strengthened over the years, and all new construction or major renovation work must bring buildings in line with strict federal flood standards.
Living along the coast still comes with a risk, however. Blue skies, calm seas and refreshing breezes can quickly wash away the memories of what a savage ocean will destroy.
It’s not a matter of if a storm of the magnitude of the March Storm of 1962 could occur again — the question is when. And how much damage a storm could leave behind depends on location and the storm’s dynamics.
Weather forecasting improvements, policy changes and re-engineered infrastructure have added to the South Jersey coast’s ability to withstand storms.
No matter what protective structures have been erected or how many houses have been raised on piles, however, a storm lasting three days or longer could still cause catastrophic damage to the barrier islands and mainland tidal communities.
David Robinson, a state climatologist with Rutgers University, said meteorologically the March Storm of 1962 was not considered that strong of a storm. What made the storm so devastating was its combination with abnormally high tides and its unusually long duration, Robinson said.
One of the immediate after-effects of the storm on public safety and policy was that many municipalities quickly enacted building codes requiring houses along beach blocks to be built on piling driven at least 20 feet into the sand. Structures today also are built with hurricane straps and braces that bolt the entire house, floors, walls, roof and all, together and, effectively, tie the building to the piling.
Building codes and technological advances in materials and engineering design mean that houses and buildings on the barrier islands may suffer less damage from flooding and wave action. The unique extra engineering for coastal houses, however, adds about $20,000 to the cost of the structure, Ventnor-based builder John Van Duyne said.
Several decades and more storms — though none as catastrophic as the 1962 March Storm — prompted New Jersey to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a shoreline protection system of dunes and regular beach replenishments. Yet that shoreline project has not been completed for many reasons, such as funding availability and ongoing disputes with homeowners who don’t want a sand dune blocking their view of the ocean.
While the oceanfront arguably is more protected now in most South Jersey shore communities, property along the back bays and tidal creeks remains at risk, said Tom Herrington, a coastal engineering professor at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Development has filled in wetlands along and near the back bays. In response to the increasing development pressure on the salt marshes, the state enacted a law in 1970 prohibiting filling of tidal wetlands.
Tidal wetlands serve as critical habitat, water filter and a sponge that absorbs rising floodwaters during storms, Herrington said. Development and bulk-heading along the bay, along with fewer wetlands, could result in severe tidal flooding if a storm similar to the March Storm of 1962 were to hit again, Herrington said.
“The marshes and the wetlands can naturally absorb that elevated water level, and it backs up through the rivers,” Herrington said. “But what happens in a developed coast, where we have a lot of bulk-heading and a lot of development is ... we basically made the bay a bathtub. That water has no place to spread out, so it keeps going up and over the bulkheads.”
Land and building value in Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport, the four municipalities that make up Absecon Island, totaled $114 million in 1962.
Today, the total value on Absecon Island is $25.5 billion. Casinos now occupy expensive oceanfront real estate in Atlantic City, multimillion-dollar homes crowd the beach blocks and the growth in popularity of owning property at the shore drives the value sharply upward.
On Long Beach Island, that difference is much more pronounced. In 1962, the value of all land and buildings in the six municipalities on the island totaled $53 million. The total value of Long Beach Island today is $14 billion.
Improvements to weather forecasting now allow emergency management directors more time and better understanding of how a storm will affect the islands so that evacuations can be ordered sooner.
Despite the growth and development in Atlantic City, however, the same sections that were devastated by flooding in 1962 would see the same tidal flooding today if a similar storm were to strike, Atlantic City Director of Emergency Management Tom Foley said.
Foley said much of the city, especially neighborhoods bordering back bays, would be five to six feet under water. Bulkheads have been constructed in Venice Park and other areas, but spillover or breaches could still leave those low-lying sections at risk.
How the South Jersey coast would fare under another storm of a similar magnitude and circumstances as the March Storm of 1962 is debated among experts.
Cape May County Emergency Management Director Frank McCall says stronger building codes and dune systems in many communities would result in less damage than in 1962.
“You need to take into consideration all the improvements to the infrastructure that have been made,” McCall said. “If the same storm were to occur today, the pictorial effects would not be as dramatic and as earth-shattering today as they were then.”
Richard Stockton College professor Stewart Farrell, however, had the opposite prediction: “It’d be like Katrina,” he said.
Farrell emphasized that the storm would need to be identical to that of 1962, a massive stalled-out system over the Atlantic, with winds traveling 600 miles across open water and coming during a high tide known as a perigean spring tide.
“It’s kind of rare. The likelihood of it occurring again is small, but not off-the-charts small. Not as small as winning the lottery,” Farrell said.
Duration is what will matter. Sand dunes, no matter how wide and how tall, can take a beating for only so long before breaches form, Farrell said. Once a breach forms, each wave will widen the gap to the point where an entire dune can fail within minutes.
“If there’s a break anywhere, the edges widen very quickly,” he said. “The water just pours through once it has an opening, and that 10-foot-wide breach becomes 250 feet wide in about 100 waves, which is maybe about 10 minutes.”
Protecting property along the back bays has not received the same attention and money as the property along the oceanfront, Herrington said.
Development was not as heavy along the bayfront 50 years ago, so much more property now is at risk from tidal flooding, he said. The beaches have dunes and seawalls that keep the water from surging into houses and boardwalks, Herrington said. But “we still don’t have a way to keep that water from coming around the backside of these islands.”
On the morning of Tuesday, March 6, 1962, Ann Kooperman, then 12, walked out the front door of her family’s three-story house on Tallahassee Avenue in Atlantic City, only to turn around to tell her mother that she would not be going to school.
Overnight the water from the bay, just 20 feet from the house, had spilled into the streets. The water rose so much that the pressure broke the basement windows. Her dog, Tiny, was in the basement, swimming in circles until a family member brought him upstairs to the kitchen.
Kooperman and her family were surprised by the storm. They weren’t alone.
Atlantic City Press editions of March 6 called for only windy conditions, with rain mixed with snow. Tides were expected to be 1 to 1½ feet above normal, with possible minor flooding at high tide. Rain accumulation was forecast at no more than a half-inch. A brief article with the weather forecast reported a ferocious winter storm packing strong winds and heavy snow inland and as far south as Georgia, but it made no mention of that storm affecting New Jersey.
Pat Haffert remembers standing at the top of the stairs, trying to hear the weather forecast on TV as his father and grandfather listened the night of March 6. Only one TV forecaster, Haffert remembers, spoke of the storm, warning that if certain systems lined up, it could be massive.
“I remember watching my grandfather. ... I only knew him as this calm and collected man. He was greatly concerned.”
Earlier that day, Haffert said, a wave sent water surging through a pair of groundfloor French doors and into the front of the house. “We had never seen anything remotely close to that,” Haffert said. “It was very, very unnerving.”
By dinnertime, the Haffert family would have to escape the oceanfront home as the waves gradually turned it into rubble.
U.S. Weather Bureau predictions may not have called for a coastal storm, but the tides would run significantly higher than normal because of the alignment of the sun, moon and Earth. Those conditions, known as a perigean spring tide, would include a new moon and would come at a time when the moon was at perigee, or at its closest approach to the Earth during its orbit.
The official highest tide mark was recorded at 8.4 feet at Steel Pier, which ranks fifth in all-time record tides. However, that number may not be an accurate measure of the tide’s true height — the recording station was destroyed during the peak of the storm.
When the winter storm that had dumped heavy snow across the south moved off the North Carolina coast, it sat stationary, rather than forming a classic northeaster and moving up the Eastern Seaboard. The storm was blocked by a strong area of high pressure over the North Atlantic, according to archived weather maps.
“It was the worst possible combination of lunar effects,” said David Robinson, state climatologist with Rutgers University. “Add to that the storm tides, and you had a monstrous, catastrophic event unfold.”
Weather forecasting has advanced remarkably in the 50 years since the 1962 storm. Prior to computer models, radar images, satellite photographs and instant updates, forecasters relied on pencil, paper and a ruler as well as networks of weather stations for information. Meteorologists today can tell if there’s a high-pressure system over the northern Atlantic Ocean that might stall a storm just off the East Coast. They can convey that information much more effectively to emergency managers and the general population.
Pat Haffert remembers a long delay between the time he and his siblings made it to a neighbor’s house and when his mother and other adults arrived.
He remembers that he carried his younger sister and the family dog through the floodwaters. He remembers standing on the porch, waiting, listening in the dark.
“All you could hear was groaning of buildings giving way under the storm and crashing of various decks and things falling down and things that were smashing into another. Howling wind. And just driving rain,” Haffert, now 62, recalled last month. “And after a period of time when none of the adults surfaced, I started to cry. Because I thought everybody was dead.”
Haffert’s family became separated during the scramble to escape, with the women and children taking refuge at one house and Haffert’s father, grandfather and brother at another. The next morning, March 7, the children ran to a window to see what was left. They cheered when they saw the house was still standing. But by the time Haffert’s father was able to return to attempt to retrieve some of the family’s belongings that afternoon, the house was gone.
“He simply came in and he told my mother, ‘Everything was gone. The whole house, everything was gone,’” Haffert said. “I never saw my mother and my father shed a tear. My mother simply just dropped her head.”
Haffert’s father ultimately was able to borrow a truck from the city to rescue the adults and children. They all were taken to a nearby funeral home, where they spent another night. By that point, sewer lines had failed and toilets were no longer flushing, Haffert remembered.
On Thursday morning, March 8, as the storm was beginning to wind down, most of Sea Isle City’s population was airlifted by helicopter to the mainland.
The enduring image, for Haffert, was that of the roof of a school bus surrounded by floodwaters. It looked to him like a giant surfboard.
South Jersey’s population has more than doubled since 1962, and the only way for residents who either were born in the past 50 years or have since moved to the shore to learn about the effects of the March Storm of 1962 is through stories from those who were there.
“The good thing about the ’62 storm is we can learn from it, because there are still people around who remember it and people who have lived through it,” Jones said.
However, no matter the lessons, Mother Nature remains unpredictable and, if another storm of historic magnitude hits, there will be damage.
“There’s no way to block out the Storm of the Century, other than totally recasting how each barrier island is developed. Which means the beach block goes and becomes open space with multiple ridges of dunes, like those on Dune Drive in Avalon,” Farrell said. “But you’ve given up about $30 billion in ratables to do that, which I don’t see happening.”
Sand dunes standing 18 feet high act essentially as a wall between the ocean and houses along many sections of Long Beach Island, a barrier that has existed for only a few years.
Atlantic City’s dunes are 14.75 feet high, tall enough to obscure views of the sea from the city’s famed Boardwalk.
In other municipalities, however, engineered sand dunes built by the Army Corps of Engineers do not exist due to lack of funding or because homeowners argue that the dunes will block their view.
Arguably the best protectors of beachfront property are a wide beach and a sand dune built to federal specifications. Beaches naturally form dunes when wind and waves push the sand back from the waterline. The sand grains gradually get trapped and form mounds that continue to grow. But in areas where the beach has been eroded, the dunes have no space to grow naturally.
New Jersey had no systematic shore protection program when the 1962 storm hit. Only two beaches — Atlantic City and Ocean City — had been widened artificially prior to the storm, said Jeff Gebert, chief of the coastal planning section of the Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia district. “Storm protection was not viewed as a major component, in a sense, of the mission that we, the corps, were authorized by Congress to address.”
Margaret Thomas Buchholz was a child in 1944 and remembers natural dunes that were wide and tall protecting the Harvey Cedars beach. But the storm surge from the 1944 hurricane flattened those dunes.
When the Storm of 1962 hit, the Harvey Cedars beach was not exceptionally wide and the natural dunes that had formed since 1944 weren’t nearly as high, she recalled.
“Once the waves washed the sand away, then it just came all the way across (the island.) There was nothing to stop it,” she said of the storm. “Each successive tide brought more waves. The first tide weakened the houses, the second tide made them wobble and the third tide just washed them away.”
Beaches elsewhere in Margate, Ventnor and Sea Isle City, to name a few, had similar conditions. Bulkheads had been erected in many areas, but there was little else to hold back a raging sea once it rose high enough to breech the wooden structures that stood only a few feet above the sand.
Several months after the March Storm of 1962, a report by the corps was published in a scientific journal describing the emergency shoreline protection efforts needed to bring back at least some sense of stability, including filling in the new inlets that had formed on Long Beach Island. The federal government allotted $17.1 million for the corps to conduct emergency repairs — a gigantic sum at the time, equivalent to $128.3 million in today’s dollars.
The emergency work done in the months following the storm had to follow specific guidelines: New sand berms and dunes were built to withstand a 10-year storm; if dunes or berms could not be built, the corps would instead build bulkheads. All work followed this basic tenet: “The work was required and essential for the protection of health and safety of the inhabitants of the locality” or was necessary for evacuation or escape.
Most controversially, dunes were to be built where the shoreline now existed. In Sea Isle City, the new sand berm was built along what was the front row of beach houses. Families signed away easements that effectively gave their entire property to the city. The same thing occurred on Long Beach Island. The Corps warned in the journal article that “buildings which were relatively undamaged and which were in the way of the dune line had to be moved or destroyed.”
The corps also would pay to repair boardwalks that were damaged, but only if they served an economic or commercial purpose; boardwalks solely for recreation were not eligible. The corps set a target completion date of Aug. 15, 1962; about 75 percent of the job was completed, the article stated.
An ominous and familiar warning came from the corps, however: “The warmth and sunshine of the beaches in the summer of 1962 will tend to erase the memory of March 1962. Now is the time for local communities to pass intelligent zoning laws to forbid the construction of homes and motels in front of existing or proposed future dune lines, to make it a serious offense to destroy these dunes and, most important of all, to plan for permanent, long-range types of protection.”
Some municipalities complied with those recommendations relatively quickly, including Ocean City and Avalon, which enacted ordinances making it a crime to damage the sand dunes. Harvey Cedars was among the first to pass the ordinances and even noted the 1962 storm in the code.
But other municipalities, such as Margate, did not follow the advice so soon. Margate did not adopt an ordinance regarding sand dunes until 1991, according to public records, and before then, destroying dunes that developed naturally was a frequent occurrence.
New storm, new dunes
A larger shoreline protection system that included the entire New Jersey coast and involved the Army Corps and the state Department of Environmental Protection was not considered until the early 1990s, when the state was battered by two devastating northeasters barely a year apart. In fact, the December 1992 storm is considered second to March 1962, in terms of severity and damage, even though the tide-level peak was slightly higher.
“The way we designed (the dunes) and engineered them is through knowledge of historical events,” Herrington said. “We try to make these shoreline protection systems wide enough and high enough to protect from a ’62 storm.”
As those dunes were proposed and planned, residents along the barrier islands protested, saying a dune’s height would obstruct their view. While that may seem like a trivial matter to those who live inland, the view from the property is the reason those houses have so much value, said Stewart Farrell, director of the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College.
As Farrell worked with the municipalities on Absecon Island as a consultant, he would ask those property owners why they were opposed to building a dune. Atlantic City and Ventnor have Army Corps dunes. Margate and Longport do not.
The response? “‘I don’t want it to block my view.’ I say, ‘Well, what are you going to do when the ocean comes to bring the view into your living room?’ ‘I don’t care. I can write a check for this house any day of the week,’” Farrell said. “The house is worth $4 million, but it doesn’t cost $4 million to build it. It’s the location that makes it worth $4 million.”
Officials in Margate and Longport also figured the sand pumped on the beach in Atlantic City and Ventnor would gradually migrate down to them, thus widening beaches through a more natural process, Farrell said. But an analysis of the shoreline on Absecon Island conducted in 2011 shows sections of Margate and Longport are most at risk of ocean flooding from a storm because the dunes or beach height are lower than base flood elevation, according to a study conducted by Farrell and the Coastal Research Center.
The process to widen the beach and build up a sand dune was more complicated for those living in many sections of Long Beach Island, where many beachfront property owners also own the sand to the high tide line. In order for the Army Corps to build the dune and replenish the beach, homeowners were required to sign easements allowing the Corps access forever. Some homeowners argued that granting the easement effectively was giving their land away and would not sign.
“This is why LBI is only partly complete and only after a fairly lengthy battle,” Farrell said.
When it began, it seemed like just another northeaster. But by the time it was over, the March Storm of 1962 had devastated the New Jersey coastline, killed at least 18 people in the state and changed the rules of beachfront development.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the storm. It hit on March 6 and lasted for three days as the powerful northeast storm stalled off the East Coast, pounding shore towns with five successive high tides and sustained high winds, with gusts up to 84 mph.
Houses and hotels floated off their foundations. Broken gas lines started fires that couldn't be fought. Cars, school buses and firetrucks were strewn like beach toys. Sections of towns were washed away.
The ocean met the bay on barrier islands. Two U.S. Navy ships washed ashore on Long Beach Island. More than 50,000 buildings were damaged.
Those who lived through the storm tell of narrow escapes through floodwaters and acts of bravery and mutual aid. As the water rose, people and rats shared the same high ground. For days afterward, towns were without power.
Many people faced their losses without the comfort of insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program was not adopted until 1968.
When we hear these stories, when we see photographs of the destruction, the natural question is: Are we better prepared to deal with such a storm today?
In some ways, yes. Building codes are more strict. Homes near the ocean are built on piles. New construction requirements make roofs more secure. After the storm, the Army Corps of Engineers became involved in maintaining and replenishing beaches. In many towns, dune systems - the best defense against incoming waves - have become a source of pride.
Most important, weather forecasting is much more precise. Today, we could expect warnings about a similar storm system.
In other ways, the New Jersey coast seems no more ready for such a devastating storm than it was 50 years ago. Efforts to make barrier islands safer also made more development possible. Today, the same level of flooding could very well bring damage in the billions of dollars. Rising sea levels mean the tide would be a half-foot higher. Some experts say the bay sides of barrier islands would see more damage than they did in 1962, since wetlands, which can mitigate the effects of flooding, have been filled in and developed.
The only way to truly guard against another storm of the century would be to severely limit development on barrier islands, to give up blocks of the most valuable real estate on the East Coast. That's not going to happen.
As southern New Jersey remembers the devastation of 50 years ago, parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and other states are digging out from a swath of tornadoes that cut through the South and Midwest last week, leaving images of shattered neighborhoods and towns that seem eerily familiar.
Nature's destruction can make our preparations seem silly.
Are we prepared to deal with another '62 storm? How could we ever be?
Many residents of beachfront communities ran from their homes on March 6, 1962, when a ferocious northeast storm struck the New Jersey coast.
The following morning, many of their houses, although damaged, still stood. By that afternoon, the third high tide of the storm had reduced most of them to sticks. Family possessions were gone.
Insurance to pay for the clothes, dishes, toys, furniture and rugs was not available. Families would recover and even joke about the relief of no longer having to bring out unattractive vases or bowls to please gift-giving guests, but it took time and money.
The March Storm of 1962 was among several natural disasters that prompted Congress in 1968 to adopt the National Flood Insurance Program as a way to provide coverage for properties within floodplains.
Controversy has developed over the program: Detractors say it has encouraged building and development in areas where catastrophic losses are all but certain.
Insurance policies are sold through private companies, but policies are backed by the federal government. Municipalities must opt in to the program, and property owners can earn discounts on rates based on various building alterations that theoretically would reduce losses from flood damage.
Single-family houses are insured by the federal program up to $250,000; those property owners who need more insurance must take their chances on the open market — something that has grown increasingly difficult in the past eight years after Florida and other parts of the Gulf Coast suffered catastrophic losses due to hurricanes.
“I’m sorry to say that most of our domestic insurance companies are not anxious to write policies on the coast or barrier islands,” said Andrew Anderson, owner of Anderson Insurance, which is based on Long Beach Island.
Insurance companies have increasingly dropped policies for properties along the coast or have significantly increased premiums; monthly bills can be extremely high.
A study released in February by the Consumer Federation of America found that insurance companies increasingly are shifting costs to the policy owner through higher deductibles and lower caps for the amount the policy will pay if a house is damaged or destroyed.
That shift ultimately means more financial risk for taxpayers because the National Flood Insurance Program is $20 billion in debt, the study stated.
“Congress should require the private sector to take a small, but growing, percentage of the risk over time,” the study stated.
While property on barrier islands clearly has a much higher risk of sustaining damage, insurance companies have been using models that sometimes overstate that risk of financial loss, Anderson said.
For example, Anderson said, insurance companies ran multiple weather models just before Hurricane Irene made landfall in North Carolina to determine what the damage in New Jersey could be. When the storm passed, the pre-storm estimate was more than double what actually occurred on the coast, Anderson said.
“One of the things that alarms me is insurance companies are making business decisions based on these models and those decisions affect their policy owners,” Anderson said. Those decisions can range from increasing rates or dropping coverage by not renewing policies, Anderson said.
“They make those business decisions based in part what modelers tell them, and we now know the model can be wrong.”
Fire at 18th Street and the canal in North Wildwood during the March Storm of 1962. Fires burned in Ocean City and Wildwood, often sparked by damaged gas mains; firefighters could not reach the blazes because of floodwaters.
Houses along sections of Marine Place in Sea Isle City were reduced to rubble from the waves during the March Storm of 1962. The Army Corps of Engineers later used many of the lots on the immediate ocean front as land for a new dune, later becoming the Promenade. Photo provided by Pat Haffert.
December Storm of 1992, Dec. 11, 1992: The northeaster lasted two days, generating the highest tide on record, of 9 feet, at Atlantic City. Winds gusted to 80 mph, and waves crested between 20 and 25 feet.
Hurricane of 1944, Sept. 14, 1944: The Hurricane of 1944 came as a nearby blow to the New Jersey coast, with the storm’s eye passing just 40 miles offshore. Residents described the storm as coming in quickly, and within hours, skies cleared. The storm surge generated the second highest tide on record of 8.8 feet.
Hurricane Gloria, Sept. 27, 1985: Hurricane Gloria also made a glancing blow as the storm scooted north, about 100 miles offshore. The storm surge generated the third highest tide on record of 8.6 feet. Winds gusted in Ocean City about 80 mph.
Halloween Storm of 1991, Oct. 31, 1991: This northeast storm generated the fourth highest tide on record in Atlantic City, with the high water mark coming in at 8.5 feet. Damage from this storm left the shoreline vulnerable for the December Storm of 1992, which slammed the coast 13 months later.
March Storm of 1962, March 6-8, 1962: While the tide of the March Storm of 1962 reached 8.4 feet, marking the fifth highest recorded tide at Atlantic City, what made this storm so exceptional was that it lasted for three days and five successive high tides.
Source: The National Weather Service, National Climatic Data Center, The Press of Atlantic City archives
Northern Long Beach Island after the March Storm of 1962. Now, sand dunes standing 18 feet high act essentially as a wall between the ocean and houses along many sections of Long Beach Island, a barrier that has existed for only a few years.
An Army Corps of Engineers aerial photograph shows the devastation from the March Storm of 1962 in Harvey Cedars. The storm opened up a new inlet to Barnegat Bay near 79th Street. The Army Corps of Engineers listed closing the inlet as a priority project in the expansive repairs the corps made along the Mid Atlantic coast following the storm. Photo courtesy of Margaret Thomas Buchholz.
The USS Monssen beached off Holgate during the March Storm of 1962 from the photo archive of The Atlantic City Press. The ship was being towed to Philadelphia, when the line broke. It was among two naval vessels that washed up on Long Beach Island during the storm.
An Army Corps of Engineers aerial photograph shows the devastation in Harvey Cedars following the March Storm of 1962. Survivors describe the aftermath as "like a wasteland." Photo courtesy of Margaret Thomas Buchholz.
Tidal flooding in Ventnor Heights reached the bottom steps of the Van Duyne house during the March Storm of 1962. John Van Duyne, then 11, stands on the bottom steps. Photo courtesy of Kathy Van Duyne.
The wreckage of an Atlantic City Electric truck that was washed away during the March Storm of 1962 on Long Beach Island. The truck had been sent to the island the morning of March 6 to help repair downed wires. All workers survived. Photo by W. Earle Hawkins, courtesy of the Stewart Farrell Collection.
A section of Steel Pier in Atlantic City was washed away after a wayward barge crashed into the pier during the March Storm of 1962. The tank of the famous diving horse attraction was washed south, ultimately landing on the beach in Ventnor. Photo by W. Earle Hawkins, courtesy of the Stewart Farrell Collection.
Naval crews work to free the USS Monssen after it washed ashore in Holgate during the March Storm of 1962. The boat finally was freed six weeks after the storm. Photo courtesy of the Stewart Farrell Collection.
Water during the March Storm of 1962 was nearly five feet deep in the inlet section of Atlantic City, flooding basement apartments and swamping cars left on the street. Photo courtesy of Stewart Farrell.