An intense nor’easter struck New Jersey 24 years ago today, generating some of the worst damage since the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962.
Dubbed “The Great Nor’easter” by the National Weather Service, the storm, which forced the evacuation in at least 20 Jersey Shore municipalities, destroyed sections of the Bradley Beach and Belmar boardwalks and swept away a significant chunk of the Ocean Grove fishing pier, according to a New York Times report.
As the storm surge peaked and wind gusts increased during the morning hours, small private boats were called to rescue some from houses along the Manasquan River, as drawbridges ceased to function due to power outages and Coast Guard boats could not access the area, the report said.
According to the report, some residents in low-lying areas in Monmouth, Ocean, and Atlantic counties were evacuated by police boats and National Guard trucks.
A surfboard was used in one instance.
In a 1994 report, the National Weather Service found that the storm “resulted in unprecedented flooding and coastal erosion, which may have permanently changed the coastline.”
The flooding lasted for days. The National Weather Service report stated that the hardest hit coastal areas included Union Beach, Atlantic Highlands, Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach, Sea Girt, Long Beach Island, and Longport.
“As a result of the full moon on December 9 and an unusually long storm duration that affected several tide cycles, the resulting tide caused the most severe flooding along the New Jersey coast in nearly 30 years,” a U.S. Geological Survey study found.
In Union Beach, 300 cars were destroyed by sea water and 690 houses were damaged, according to the National Weather Service report. The Red Cross eventually hosted 5,000 to 6,000 people in shelters throughout hte state, according to the New York Times report.
The highest wind gust of the storm was recorded in Cape May, peaking at 80 miles per hour. Strong wind gusts shattered windows in Atlantic City. Train tracks along portions of the North Jersey Coast Line were underwater or impacted by debris. Away from the Shore, portions of Sussex County saw 14 inches of snow.
The storm killed two in New Jersey, damaged 3,200 homes, and caused $750 million (1992 dollars) in damage.
Portions of the state were delared a federal disaster area.