52 Years Since the Storm of '62, Is Delaware More Prepared - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

52 Years Since the Storm of '62, Is Delaware More Prepared


DELAWARE - Thursday marked 52 years since the storm of '62 hit the Delaware coastline. There was tremendous damage, devastating the region, as properties were literally ripped apart. More than 50 years later, the region is far more prepared, but experts explained to WBOC that the risk of another storm always remains. 

Chris Bason from the Delaware Center for Inland Bays met with WBOC at their center by the Indian River Inlet Bridge.

"Since '62, we are both more prepared and less prepared," he said.  "Since '62, we've seen a lot more people come to Sussex County. Population growth has basically tripled since that time. And the new people are moving near the water. They're building their homes in lower elevations. That's where most of the growth has been concentrated." 

Bason said this location has put more homes in vulnerable positions. At the University of Delaware's campus in Lewes, Wendy Carey was in agreement. However she said there were also some good developments as well. 

In the 50 years since that storm, she said building techniques are tremendously improved. When the storm of '62 hit, most homes were built on top of concrete slabs, which were placed directly on top of sand.

That technique, which has now become antiquated along coastlines, lead to major problems when heavy water eroded the sand away. During that storm, homes literally toppled over. Now Carey said homes are built with new techniques that root the homes deeper in the land. 

She also said the Beach replenishment projects have been important, in creating an important buffer zone between the heavy waves and the properties. Nonetheless, she said those on the coastlines must be aware of the inherent risks. 

"If we had a coastal storm with similar parameters, with waves, winds, and tide conditions as we saw in '62, she said. "There would be impacts to natural features, the natural environment, and to structures along our coast. And to roadways and other infrastructure."

For that reason, she said it's important that the individual homeowners take preventative action. 

"Folks need to be aware of their flood risk," she said. "And be prepared in advance."

Bason said that in the end though, no amount preventative action can stop nature from running it's course in certain adjacent properties. 

"We learn from these storms," he said. "You learn these lessons. And I think we need to learn that you gotta stop building right next to the water."

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