Riding out the storm by the Mayflower pool

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I was 13, and it was my sister's 17th birthday. We did not go to school that day – I do not remember why, either the birthday or the storm. My mother was worried about flying debris because the winds were so high. We lived in an apartment on the 100 block of Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City. My mother owned a store at Tennessee and the Boardwalk, under the Mayflower Hotel, across from Fralinger's.

In those days there was no insurance for floods, so we went to the store to tape up the plate-glass windows and take merchandise out of the basement. We were stocked up in anticipation of Easter, which was always a big day for the boardwalk merchants. The basement was at beach level with cinder block walls. The water came up fast and started pouring through the cinder blocks. After we saved what we could, we went upstairs to the store and found that we were trapped by the rising water. 

We went next door to the Mayflower. They had an indoor pool on the second or third floor, and we rode out the storm sitting by the pool and looking out to the ocean. Debris from Steel Pier came floating by; I think it was the high-diving horse tank and the diving bell. Eventually they floated down the ocean and hit the Million Dollar Pier.

When we could, we went and played in the water to feel the “tingling.” What dummies we were – that was electricity!

After the storm I remember The Press had headlines that Long BeachIsland was virtually wiped out. There was a lot of damage in the inlet of Atlantic City too, including the apartment building on the boardwalk at Maine Avenue, where we used to live. It seems like the inlet never really recovered.

Janis Hetrick
Egg Harbor Township

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