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The Delaware Public Archives is commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, a powerful Northeaster that affected the mid-Atlantic March 6th – 8th, with a virtual exhibit.
Among DPA’s holdings are many incredible historical documents, photographs and films that tell of tragedy and the perseverance of Delawareans to restore the state to its pre-storm condition. The mighty storm brought waves in excess of 40 feet that damaged property along Delaware’s Atlantic and Delaware Bay coasts. Post-storm aerial films recoded by the State Police Commission survey the destruction of beaches, homes, businesses, roadways, and extensive inland flooding.
The Governor’s Papers Collection from 1962 includes telegram correspondence with President John F. Kennedy. In these documents, Governor Carvel describes the aftermath of the storm and requests that the President not only declare emergency status along the Delaware coast from Fenwick Island to Delaware City, but also 5 miles inland. Carvel estimates the cost of damage in Delaware to be $50 million (approximately $357 million today). Governor Carvel’s papers further detail the combined effort of local groups, government agencies and federal manpower in cleanup efforts through letters, financial documents and memos.
Photographs featured on the official Public Archives Facebook page show the extreme damage of the storm in detail. Battered homes lifted off their foundations and precariously tipped toward washed out beaches. Images of the Rehoboth Boardwalk ripped apart; its planks piled up like toothpicks against the businesses that once lined the popular summer attraction. Additionally, newspaper articles and photographs in our collection further report on the aftermath with breaking news and before and after photos.
Explore one of the greatest storms ever to hit the mid-Atlantic from your computer and come in to see even more fantastic pieces of history here at the Delaware Public Archives.