We had been living in Avalon for about two years at the time, having moved here from Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1960. At the time of the storm I was 12. My dad was a painting contractor who was known in the community for his cooking.
I remember the town officials stated that the only people who would be allowed to stay were the police, firefighters and volunteers. I remember my dad asking if we wanted to be evacuated, and my mom, sister and I said we would stay. Once the town was evacuated it looked like a ghost town.
I recall watching the Coast Guard helicopters landing right in the middle of Dune Drive, and every half hour my dad and I went out and measured the water coming up the street and marked the street. We lived on 11th Street off Dune Drive, right in the middle between the ocean on the left and the bay on the right. When the ocean met the bay, there were cabin cruisers with no one in them going down the middle of Dune Drive from the force of the storm.
The wind was so strong I could lean forward without falling over. We lived in a lower level apartment, which began to fill up with water, and I remember my mom and my sister lifting our belongings off the floor and onto the beds and dressers. Even though it was frightening at times, it was also exciting.
The aftermath of the storm was devastating. I remember my dad had just finished painting this large three-story home on the beach, and when we pulled up to where the home was, it was gone – the ocean had taken it away.
There were so many homes that were destroyed, and trees and rooftops were blown off and lying in the middle of the roadway, which made getting around difficult. But the police and rescue personnel went around and kept check on the remaining properties throughout the community until everyone was allowed back in town. My dad stayed at the firehouse cooking for all of the police, fire and rescue personnel.
It was a time my family would never forget.
Salvatore C. Armenia
Egg Harbor Township
Editor’s note: Salvatore Armenia is a retired Somers Point police chief.
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