A storm to remember: Residents recount tales for the three-day nor’easter in 1962

LEWES – Survival mode was the shared focus of the great Storm of ’62 Friday at the Lewes Public Library. At an event hosted by Sussex2030, those who experienced first-hand, and …

Longtime Kent County commissioner weathered Storm of ’62 with Guard

REHOBOTH BEACH — Sixty years ago, Smyrna resident Brooks Banta was in his mid-20s and a proud member of the Delaware Army National Guard. And during the first week of March, that membership would thrust him into battle against one of the worst natural disasters to strike the state’s coast: the Storm of ’62.

DOVER — The Great Storm of 1962, which wreaked havoc in coastal areas across Delaware, can happen again — and more frequently — if efforts do not intensify to combat climate change, weather experts warn.

As Severe Weather Awareness Week in Delaware comes to a close, state officials and climate specialists are recalling the Storm of 1962, an early-March nor’easter that wreaked havoc on coastal communities here and in neighboring states.
REHOBOTH BEACH — The Storm of 1962 left a sizable amount of damage to Delaware’s coastal communities, as much of the infrastructure at the time could not withstand the storm’s 35- to 45-mph winds.
Look back to 1962

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Storms of Record

While the Storm of 1962 remains the storm of record for Delaware, many events prior to that year and after it have caused significant problems for coastal residents.

Notable storms, gathered from experts and newspaper reports, include:

    • A hurricane in October 1878 brought a record occurrence of flooding for the middle and upper Delaware Bay. During the category 1 hurricane, at Little Creek, the water was 10.4 feet above mean sea level — 4 feet above predicted high tide.
    • A hurricane on Sept. 15, 1903, affected the lower part of the Delaware Bay, causing flooding and damages in Lewes and along the Atlantic Coast. Five seamen aboard a schooner died when the vessel shipwrecked in the storm.
    • The 1933 Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane was an August storm that caused a 7- to 9-foot storm surge for the Delaware Bay. A Delaware Coastal Management Program report said the 24-hour storm flooded the National Guard Camp at Bethany Beach, the Henlopen and Belhaven hotels in Rehoboth and areas between Lewes and Rehoboth. Saltwater flooding inland destroyed crops between Kitts Hummock and Lewes.
    • On Sept. 18, 1936, a hurricane caused eight sailors aboard the steamer Long Island to drown when their vessel went down off the Delaware Bay. Crop damage was also reported.
    • On Sept. 14-15, 1944, a hurricane caused two fatalities in Delaware from people who suffered heart attacks trying to secure property and pushing the 254-foot SS Thomas Tracey onto the beach at Brooklyn Avenue in Rehoboth. Crops were damaged, the boardwalks in Bethany and Rehoboth were destroyed and a barge in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal sank. In Lewes, residents of homes along the beach were evacuated because of flooding.
    • On Oct. 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel brought severe damage to Delaware. Six people died, including two who were trying to secure boats along the Delaware Bay.

Click to see the others.

Storms of Record


Letter to the Editor: ‘Precarious’ house became lasting image of Storm of ’62

At the time of the 1962 coastal storm, I was in college in North Carolina. A week or so later, however, I was home on spring break. One of my college friends and I decided we would drive down to …

Letter to the Editor: Former paperboy loyal to route during Storm of ’62

I can well remember the first day of the Storm of ’62, the fierce winds, rain beating down like sharp spears and the damage done up and down the shore towns. The next day’s paper showing …

Letter to the Editor: Sussex resident recalls family in truck floating during storm

I was 5 years old at the time of the Storm of ’62, and my family and I lived near the end of Long Neck Road (Massey’s Landing). My dad didn’t think the water would get to us, but it …
Transcript of the governor's 1962 radio address

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