Tales from Ocean City: Diane Smith Reese

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She was 9 years old, and a tomboy when the storm hit. Where others saw devastation, Diane Smith Reese saw opportunity.

“My mother yelled for my brother and I to get up that morning,” she said. “We ran to the front window and there was water everywhere, there was no ground to be seen.”

Reese lived across the street from the bay, 21 Bay Avenue, between North and First Street. For three days, the Smith family home was bayfront, with water clear to Somers Point.

“It was awesome,” she said. “There were docks and fences floating by, all kinds of neat stuff. I was hoping that some of it would get stuck and stay in the yard so we could build a fort.

“It kept floating, it was disappointing,” she said. “There was no fort in my future, just lots of water. Our house sat up pretty high and we had water all the way up to the threshold, it didn’t come in, another inch and we’d have been wet.”

“I can remember after the storm passed, we got in the car and my dad drove us around to see the devastation,” she said. “We went down to the south end, and it was under Martial Law. There were tanks and soldiers and they stopped us. My father flashed something at them and they let us go through but they warned us to be careful, to drive with caution.

“It was incredible, the damage was unbelievable. They were houses in the street, torn apart; just destroyed. There was one house that was completely gone but the chimney was standing!

“There was sand everywhere, like the beach all the way to the bay,” she said. “It looked like a war scene, really. Nothing was left unscathed.”

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