My Memories of the 1962 Storm
Evening Sun Cover
Back in 1962 weather reports were not like they are today. In March of that year Ocean City experienced a violent, three-day storm more devastating to the town than any hurricane. My husband, Robe, and my youngest daughter, Marlene and I were living at 10th Street and Baltimore Avenue, one block from the beach. When the storm struck we stayed in the house rather than leave. No one could predict the damage that was to follow.
The Bay at bridge
The tides were so severe. I remember the ocean waves breaking under the boardwalk, gushing down 10th Street. Water and sand was breeching through the ground floor of the George Washington Hotel. Tenth Street looked like a river with pieces of boardwalk floating past and one section actually had a lamppost still attached. A car had been left in the hotel parking lot and it was completely covered with sand.
We were without electricity for four days, but because we had firewood I was able to cook in the stone fireplace. I could heat water in an agate pot and fry some bacon and eggs in my old cast iron frying pans. We were lucky to have had a few food supplies on hand. We were also fortunate that our home was not damaged, as it was highly elevated.
The National Guard was stationed throughout the town to prevent looting. They came to our front door to see if we were all right. On the third day of the storm, I remember walking with Mr. Griffin from our house up to the beach. The wind was still blowing so hard we could hardly stand up. The ocean had washed out the bottom of the Fischer Cottage (now a B & B), which was on the corner of 10th Street and the boardwalk. The pilings were keeping the house from floating away.
At the time, my oldest daughter Janet was attending the University of Maryland. She called with concern that she had seen Ocean City featured on the CBS Evening News. She said later that her father and I sounded like we were in a state of shock when describing the boardwalk floating down 10th Street. She came home immediately when she realized we needed help. If you had left the island, you had to prove you were a resident-show some ID-to get back into town.
Miami Court Motel
We owned the Miami Court Motel at 22nd Street and the bayside and it was badly damaged by the floodwaters. We spent a month there shoveling out the mud from the motel rooms. We were able to open for business by Memorial Day. Everyone thinks that the ocean causes all the damage, but the Sinepuxent Bay filled up and the bay waters, having no place to go, caused significant flooding and property damage.
I don't remember really being scared. Our family had stayed through hurricanes and nor'easters many times. Now days, the weather forecasters give you warning well in advance of storms and gives you plenty of time to get scared.