Monday, May 8, 2017

Thirteen blocks of Surf Avenue gone, three blocks of the northern section of the boardwalk, about ten years old, carried away by the waves, the remainder badly undermined, several of the boardwalk pavilions toppled into the sea, are the result of last Saturdays nor'easter storm and Saturdays and Sundays high seas.
Rehoboth has sustained the most damage by storm this week than in the last fourteen years.

Town commissioners have ordered reconstruction to begin at once, announced Charles S. Horn, a commissioner. W. S. Downing, street and beach superintendent, will engage men and teams to begin repair work today, Monday, January 5th. The cost is not known, however Mr. horn, feels it will be greater that $10000. An available $5000 from recent bond sales for Rehoboth Improvement will be applied at once. Necessary repairs will be made at first with other work to follow as financial provisions can be made.

Charles Horn and Frank Chase are the only commissioner here in town, Mayor and head commissioner Fred Ross is very ill at Wilmington and will not be communicated with, Ben Shaw, also
ill in Wilmington, said he would be in town by next Thursday, the other three out of town, will be in touch with those here to make and carry out their plans. Necessary emergency work will proceed.

It appears that private property received little damage, the Horn Pier probably received the most
but it cannot be visited for inspection because of high seas. Except for several buildings on the boadwalk it is apparent that no damage has occurred. First reports of damage, upon inspection, proved untrue.

There was great apprehension during the storms worst Saturday for the towns new water system. As Surf Avenue was crumbling away and going out to sea, in view of the fact that a chief main for the water supply is in the roadbed of the avenue, it full length. Had there been a break the entire system would be out of service, a calamity for residents since they depend on town water for domestic use and fire protection.

It was a terrific nor'easter that developed very quickly which did all the damage. A gale wind of sixty mile per hour force, lashing the seas into a furious rage, large breakers with lightning rapidity, battered the coast with tremendous force, lasting twenty four hours or more

The boardwalk rocked like a cradle and the pavilions did likewise. Many of them, new last year at the cost of $1000 each, it is thought they can be repaired and saved. The public comfort stations placed below the boardwalk last year at a $1000 each are total wrecks. The bath houses of W. S. Hill, were badly battered and new lumber store near them was carried out to sea, however, Mr, Hill, said the bath house can be repaired at a minimum cost.

Heavy reinforced concrete parts of the retaining wall were crushed by the waves like egg shells and carried out into the seas.

Human efforts were to no avail and all the residents could do was to stand by and watch the destruction.

The nor'easter and the surf reached the height of their fury about 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon at high water, and as the tide began to recede the storm showed signs of abatement and the force of the sea swells began to diminish. Also the wind changed to the east and before dark the 60 mph winds were at 30 mph. During the storm rain fell in torrents and were a factor in the destruction. At 9 o'clock the stars were shinning. This did not last long as a fog obscured the sky and rain with winds were noticed all Saturday night and Sunday

The boardwalk from Rehoboth Avenue to the north is gone. Large sections sway back and forth with the force of the tide. Many of the wooden bridges connecting the boardwalk with streets were torn away or are unsafe to use.

Most serious than damage to the boardwalk is the wrecking of Surf Avenue, between the boardwalk and the ocean front cottages , which was laid out thirty years ago at a 100 foot wide, at high tide the ocean was 100 feet out from the roadway. At the upper end, the cottage of Alfred Poole of
Wilmington and that of B. B. Owens of Baltimore were undamaged . At Virginia Avenue the waters ate 20 feet away and the pavilion lost.

Mr. Horn and Mr Mason patrolled the sea front beach all Saturday night and found that the breaker rolled in over the marsh as far as three mile, sand dunes were leveled and new water ways were cut, and the Rehoboth Bay became part of the ocean as it overflow the narrow strip of land between the two. The new canal was not damaged and appears to be in a good condition except full of water.

Hiram Burton of Lewes has said shipping escaped the fury of the storm and Lewes did not receive the wind to effect the ships in the Breakwater harbor. The Cape Henlopen light was not seen due to foggy conditions. Wrecked telephone lines made it difficult to communicate with isolated points. Mr. Hill of Rehoboth Beach Bath house said this storm was the worst he has seen in the past 21 years.

Sunday, there were visitors, some with local interest, others, out of curiosity. Wilmington mayor, Ed Mitchell and his wife were here at their cottage to spend a few days and has said he always wanted to visit during a nor'easterner and really got to see one this time. P. J. Shockley of Wilmington, a visitor since boyhood, was also a Sunday visitor. Another visitor, Dr. Burton, a State Land Commissioner, has told the news that State Lands had suffered no serious damage from the storm.

More than likely the Rehoboth Beach town commissioners will endeavor to devise ways and means to to provide some permanent protection. Bulk heading appears to be the only solution but is expensive. Whether such a plan can be followed depends on making financial provisions.
Commissioner Horn of Rehoboth points a finger at the Delaware Breakwater at Lewes, as having the tendency to throw the force of a turbulent sea towards Rehoboth Beach. He feels that government built
protective breakers to protect the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse would help eliminate this sea surge.

As of right now, the marshes in this vicinity are flooded, the India River Lifesaving Station at Indian River is marooned and the strip of land separating Rehoboth Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is still inundated.

Abstract: Harrison Howeth, Wilmington News Journal, page 2, Monday, 5 January, 1914 .

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