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Assateague Island After the Storm of ‘62
My adventure on Assateague Island a few days after the March 1962 Ashe Wednesday Storm
by Roy vonBriesen
February 2016

Photograph #1

Photograph #2

It all started with a phone call from my friend, Tim Seward. We both lived in Palmer Park MD at the time. Tim Seward is a relative of William H. Seward who is credited with helping buy Alaska for the United States.
Tim wanted my help in finding a home on Assateague that may have washed away during the storm. A good friend of Tim Seward’s was a fellow named Joe who had built a house on Assateague by bringing all the materials across the sound to the island on a small four car ferry as did others who built their homes there.

There was no bridge to the island and at that time I don’t think there were more than ten homes that had been built.

The area was being sold for home lots with the idea of a development that would exist along the beach that was private and behind the protective dune. Houses on the ocean side of the main road were built on stilts with a set of steps up to the house and parking underneath. At that time, I don’t think there were many rules about where and how one could build and place a house. I think the houses were financed by the owner, as I don’t think a bank would touch it.

We used a small rowboat with motor to reach Assateague across the sound. The ferry was not running as the sand had shifted under the water and it was too risky for it to run aground.
There were no passable roads where we were going and we were warned about quick sand everywhere.

Joe, the home’s owner had rented a small plane to search for his house a few days before we got there. He thought he had found it, moved back from the ocean about a half mile toward the sound on dry land.

After getting to Assateague, we first went to where the house was built on stilts in its original location. Joe took some pictures as did I. The protective dune was gone. It was about eight feet high and several miles long.

We next went to where Joe thought his house was and passed another house that had floated back about a half mile from where it was built and dumped into quick sand. The owner / builder was there and said the only thing he could save was the second floor bed linens. I have never seen such a sadder man in all my life as he told us he had just finished building the house and was going to have his family spend their first night in it together. They all got off the island just before the storm.

Photograph #3

Photograph #4

Photograph #5

Photograph #6

Photograph #7

Photograph #8
Walking back to ocean we stopped at the empty Coast Guard Lifesaving Station and took pictures. (Picture #5 and #6 from the top). The picture from the top shows the full scale of a complete wash over and total leveling of all barrier dunes.
Walking back toward the boat along the main road and looking back to the Coast Guard Lifesaving Station, Picture #7..

Picture #8 is looking forward to where some houses had been, several of which had washed out to sea.
After several other slightly harrowing experiences including the boat motor breaking down in the sound after dark, we finally made it home about ten that night.

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