Tales from Ocean City: Carla Migliaccio

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The Migliaccio family lived in harm’s way when the water started rising on March 6, 1962 on Pleasure Avenue. They were across the street from the bay and what was then Chris’ and Hogate’s restaurants, at the foot of the Ninth Street bridge.

Carla Migliaccio was 5-years-old.

“I was in Mrs. Smith's kindergarten class and half of our class, including me, had the measels during the storm,” she said.

“During the first tide that came up, there was an electrical fire under the house and I remember my father leaning out of my brother’s bedroom window to reach the fuse box and take out the fuses. The rising water put the fire out soon after.

“My father worked for the city, at the public garage at 10th Street and Haven Avenue. On the second day of the three-day storm, he went to work to help raise all of the equipment and keep the trucks running.”

Before he left the house, he prepared the family for the impending disaster. The furniture was stacked up, chairs on the dining room table, anything that had been on the floor was put up.

“Our shoes were up on the beds, the bottom dresser doors were on top of the dressers,” she said. “I remember my mother, sister, Marie and my brother, Anthony and I were all huddled in the kitchen and my sister started to scream, because the water started coming in the northeast corner of the kitchen. Mom herded us up into the attic with our coats, some blankets and we sat that high tide out up there.

“We had 3 inches of water in the house,” she said. “After that tide, somehow Mom got a hold of her father, Charles Saylor, and he came over from Somers Point to get the four of us. Dad was still at work.

“Grandpop was stopped by the National Guard when he tried to come across the bridge, and he told them that he was coming to get his daughter and grandchildren out while he could get to us, and they let him through,” Migliaccio said. “I don't remember how long we stayed with my grandparents in Somers Point, but I remember it was a while because the

drinking water in town had been contaminated due to the flooding.”

The storm had long-lasting effects.

“We had moved into the house in the summer of 1961 and my father and grandfather had sanded the hardwood, yellow pine floors and finished them before we moved in,” she said. “That was not even a year before the storm. I can still see my father with a garden hose washing the sand out of the house and saying ‘never again, never again.’ The floors were not refinished again until the end of March 1999, after my father passed away.”

Migliaccio said she thought “long and hard” about refinishing the floors before finally deciding to go for it.

“Of course, I did wait until after the first week of March had passed,” she said. “I guess that will stay with me to the end of my days, as silly as it may seem, but I always breathe a sigh of relief after the first week of March passes.

“With three nor'easters back-to-back on a full moon, I guess the storm of ’62 was our Perfect Storm,” she said. “I will certainly never forget it.”

 

Anthony Migliaccio

A year younger than big sister Carla, Anthony Migliaccio was 4 when the storm hit.

“I remember all of the furniture being raised up,” he said. “I think our parents used an old set of encyclopedias to raise most of the stuff. As for the water coming into the house, Marie was in bed sick, it was me who screamed for our mother to come see the water coming into the house, and it was in the utility room behind the boiler where I first saw it come in.

“I remember the panic with our parents when the electrical short in the center wall started to burn, and dad leaning out my bedroom window to pull the fuses.

“I had to go up to the attic where mom had carried pillows and blankets for us. I also remember while up there watching Capt. Chris Montagna, Capt. Jack Christie, and a man named Brock paddled an old Garvey up and down Palen Ave. chasing oil drums and other flotsam that was floating away from Chris’ Restaurant.

“Our grandfather came to get us after the water receded enough for him to get to us in his pickup truck, but I don’t remember much after that of the storm itself.

“I do remember some time after the storm was over and our father finally got some time off, he took me up to the boardwalk to see the storm damage, and there was quite a bit of damage,” he said. “Whole sections of boardwalk were dislodged, a lot of broken storefront windows, and tons of sand. There was sand everywhere, all over town.

“Another memory I have was of the Fire Department coming by with a pump to pump the water out from under our house, and my father getting a truck load of sand to spread under the house,” he said. “I helped with my fleet of Tonka trucks and bulldozers!”


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