Boardwalk, hundreds of homes destroyed
SEA ISLE CITY – Sea Isle City was among the hardest hit of all South Jersey towns during the March 1962 Storm.
The Sea Isle City Historical Society (SICHS), in partnership with the Cape May County Library System, hosted a series of special events to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March Storm of 1962 this week. A variety of displays and special programs marked the anniversary.
SICHS president Mike Stafford curator Harriet Reardon Bailey welcomed a large number of residents and visitors to the museum to discuss the storm. The program was centered around the presentation of a new painting by Hank Guarini, called “Deliverance 1962” depicting one of the military helicopter evacuations that air-lifted many Sea Isle City residents to safety during the storm. Author Joe LaRosa, who wrote the book “Our Perfect Storm: A History of the March 1962 Storm that Devastated Sea Isle City” also spoke about Sea Isle before and after the storm.
“Look outside, what a difference 50 years makes,” he said.
Residents who were there for the 62 storm said they remembered houses collapsing, cars sinking in the water, their horns blowing until the battery died, and refrigerators floating down the street.
Hundreds of homes were destroyed as the ocean met the bay. High tide piled upon high tide for three days. The Sea Isle City boardwalk was completely washed away along with all of its attractions. The city rebuilt a concrete promenade in its place. Many residents evacuated. Those that stayed behind had to be rescued by military helicopters.
Members of a panel discussion on the storm said they remembered seeing entire houses float down the street. A number of individuals interviewed for this storm series said Sea Isle City was the hardest hit community in Cape May County.
Throughout the month of March, special displays will be available for viewing in the lobby of the new Sea Isle City branch of the Cape May County Library, 4800 Central Avenue, which is where the SICHS has their new museum. The displays will include continuously-playing videos and a vast collection of photographs and artifacts, which have been donated to the SICHS by local residents.
The historical society plans another open house on Saturday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. At that time, Deliverance, the artwork donated by Guarini will be officially placed in its new home inside the museum. Then at 11 a.m. a second panel discussion will take place inside the library’s community meeting room, with new panelists who will offer additional eye-witness accounts.
At approximately 1 p.m. a Coast Guard helicopter fly-by and demonstration over the wetlands directly behind the library, which will recreate the feeling of the evacuations that took place in 1962.
Photos above by Jen Arthur
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