In March 1962, a powerful, slow-moving northeaster pummeled the mid-Atlantic coast, bringing huge waves, extreme winds and record-setting tides over the course of three days. Often called “Delaware’s Coastal Storm of the Century,” the catastrophe destroyed homes, flooded communities and killed seven people.
In commemoration of the storm’s 50th anniversary, free public events highlighting coastal vulnerability and sustainability are scheduled for Wednesday, March 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. The activities are sponsored by the Delaware Sea Grant College Program (DESG), the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the City of Rehoboth Beach.
“We want to both commemorate the past and prepare for the future,” DESG coastal processes specialist Wendy Carey said. “The ’62 Storm is the most damaging coastal storm on record in Delaware, but if a storm of that magnitude were to hit us tomorrow, how would we fare? Our hope is to provide an overview of how all levels of government and society can work together to reduce risks and create more resilient Delaware communities.”
Activities will provide unique perspective on the Delaware coast – looking 50 years back and 50 years forward – including:
Tony Pratt, administrator of DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section, encourages both community officials and coastal residents to attend.
“Perhaps more than any other single event, the 1962 northeaster exemplifies Delaware’s vulnerability to severe wave attack and flooding,” Pratt said. “The property damage costs and human suffering resulting from that storm underscore the importance of statewide mitigation and preparedness initiatives for future coastal storms. With a history of strong interagency cooperation including support from the General Assembly, Delaware has a comprehensive beach and storm readiness plan in place. The workshop will highlight effective risk reduction programs aimed to improve coastal sustainability, as well as opportunities for improved efficiency and partnerships.”
All events are free on both days, but seating is limited and reservations are required. More information and registration information is available at www.deseagrant.org/62storm2012 or by calling 302-645-4346.Page Updated on February 6, 2012
Rehoboth Beach in the aftermath of the 1962 Storm. (Image courtesy of Delaware State Highway Department)