Demonstration reenacts Sea Isle evacuations during Storm of ’62

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Hundreds of spectators filled the decks of the Sea Isle City Library while a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter performed a rescue demonstration over the nearby wetlands. The demonstration commemorated the military evacuations that carried residents to safety during the Storm of 1962. Hundreds of spectators filled the decks of the Sea Isle City Library while a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter performed a rescue demonstration over the nearby wetlands. The demonstration commemorated the military evacuations that carried residents to safety during the Storm of 1962.

SEA ISLE CITY – To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the infamous Storm of 1962, the Sea Isle City Historical Society, in partnership with the Sea Isle City branch of the Cape May County Library, offered a series of special events that included panel discussions, the dedication of original artwork, temporary museum exhibits and a rescue demonstration by the United States Coast Guard.

On Tuesday, March 6, precisely fifty years after the three-day storm slammed into the New Jersey coastline in 1962, the first of two panel discussions took place inside the public meeting room of the Sea Isle City Library on Central Avenue, where the Sea Isle City Historical Society’s museum is located.

At the start of the discussion, Historical Society President Mike Stafford and Historical Museum Curator Harriett Reardon-Bailey accepted an original charcoal painting, donated by local artist Hank Guarini. The artwork, which is titled Deliverance, depicts the helicopter evacuations that carried Sea Isle City residents to safety on the mainland during the storm.

Five panelists, Patricia Wright-Ogle, Harriet Reardon-Bailey, James Coulter, Bart Milano and Pat Haffert, were led through a lively discussion by moderator Joe LaRosa, author of “Our Perfect Storm,” a book about the 1962 nor’easter. On Saturday, March 10, during a second panel discussion, Coulter, Milano and Haffert were joined by Diana Gibson-Perry and her brother, Jack Gibson.

After sharing their experiences and answering questions from the 300 spectators in attendance, LaRosa introduced Lt. Jay Kircher, a United States Coast Guard helicopter pilot stationed at the Atlantic City Air Station.

During a speech that included the history of the Coast Guard, Kircher, who is originally from Fairfax, Va., stated that a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was on its ways to the library at that very moment to give a rescue demonstration over the nearby wetlands. Spectators filled every window and both outside decks on the library’s west-side when the bright orange aircraft suddenly appeared.

After performing an overhead “fly-by” and other aerial maneuvers, the helicopter hovered just-above the wetlands as crewmembers lowered a rescue basket that was capable of carrying over 600 pounds of weight. One of the helicopter’s crewmembers repelled to the ground on a rope and was slowly hoisted back onboard. Before leaving the scene, the aircraft performed a second fly-by, which brought a round of applause from the spectators.

“The Coast Guard couldn’t have done a better job on Saturday, and everyone was thrilled with the rescue demonstrations,” said Stafford.

For information about upcoming events at the Sea Isle City Historical Museum, call 609-624-7929.

Lt. Jay Kircher, a United States Coast Guard helicopter pilot, was a guest speaker in Sea Isle City during the 50th Anniversary of the Storm of 1962. Lt. Jay Kircher, a United States Coast Guard helicopter pilot, was a guest speaker in Sea Isle City during the 50th Anniversary of the Storm of 1962.


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