A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

History: Hurricane Donna Batters Bayshore, Sep 1960

The 15 Sep 1960 edition of The Matawan Journal includes a front page story about Hurricane Donna, which passed through the area that week. Below is a transcript of part of the article, including reporting on Matawan Township and the Borough.

I've included an unedited section of the article to show just how bad the optical character recognition (OCR) can be, even in a rather recent article like this. The poor quality is due in large part to scanning the microfilm instead of the original newspapers.


Bayshore area residents today are continuing to dig out from under the wreckage and debris caused in the span of six hours Monday when the full fury of Hurricane Donna, termed the nation's most destructive storm, howled and lashed the Raritan Bay area from Keansburg to Laurence Harbor.

Most severely hit by the hurricane, whose 80-mlle-an-hour winds struck the bayshore area at the time of peak high tides, were the communities that front on Raritan Bay, Keansburg, Union Beach, Keyport, Matawan Township and Madison Township.

Bay waters, lashed into tides ranging 10 feet above normal and heavy seas by the hurricane force winds, raged inland, causing thousands of persons to evacuate their homes. The bayshore area was left a scene of destruction and ruin. Damage to the area was estimated at several millions of dollars.

May Declare Emergency

Yesterday, mayors of bayshore communities met with Eugene N. Aloi, a member of the financial assistance division of the Federal Small Business Administration, to explain the need to declare the bayshore an emergency area.

Both Mayor James J. Gravany of Keansburg and Mayor Norman J. Currie, Keyport, presented a list of damages sustained in their respective municipalities. Congressman James C. Auchincloss met officials in Keansburg on a tour of the distressed areas.

If the bayshore qualifies for emergency assistance by the SBA, businessmen and homeowners, along with charitable institutions, may obtain loans at three per cent interest, payable over a 10-year period to repair damages wrought by the storm.

Matawan Township

Bayfront areas of Matawan Township took a battering from Hurricane Donna, especially in sections bordering Matawan Creek and in portions of Cliffwood Beach. During the worst of the hurricane, water was nine to 10 feet deep in the streets of Cliffwood Beach, police reported.

Damage in the beach area was estimated at more than $150,000. Ten families were evacuated from the waterfront area to the Cliffwood Fire House. Flooding in Cliffwood Beach reached all the way back to Greenwood Ave.

The storm lashed bay waters completely covered the roofs of the 180 unit colony of seacots facing the bay at Ciiffwood Beach and crashed through the rear of the Cat 'n Fiddle Restaurant, splitting the building in two. Police were stationed at the restaurant after looting was reported.

Boats Scattered In Road

Roy Matthew's Fishing station on Amboy Rd., at Matawan Creek filtered severe damage by winds and rain during the storm. Water boiled over the banks of the creek, inundating Matawan Rd. and scattering boats housed in the dockage area along the road and in the meadows.

Police set up a roadblock at the Matawan Creek bridge Monday night until boats could.be cleared. Police said the barn on the Joseph Grimaldi farm, off Lloyd Rd., was half torn down by Donna's winds.


Falling trees, wind damage to homes and failing electrical and telephone lines comprised the greatest damage suffered by Matawan during Hurricane Donna. Many trees were felled and electric power was out during much of the day. The storm felled a wall at the sewage disposal plant and washed out 40 feet of sewer pipe.

There was flooding for about two hours on Aberdeen Road and Ravine Drive. A large tree crashed onto the grounds of the Matawan Grammar School on the Church Street side, tearing down a part of the cyclone fence.  Police said no one was injured.


Here is an example of the OCRing for this article.

Police estimated lit tills area It
was necessary to evacuate about
lot) families. A relief Mutton was
Bet up In tlui Laurence Ililrbor
Fire House, anil (hu Red Cross u'[
up a relief stutlnn fur this evacticrii.
Storm driven waters of Hnrltan
Buy fiiiri:fd uciosu Route 35 near
In' More.un IlrlJ|;c Inuntlalliilt tlio
il|(hway and several ri'sliuiinniH
nnd highway taverns. flnrrlty'it
i-zc. Inn, Kmiln .'IS, had IIH foundations
unrfi'rmlfK'd hy the MirKJiif;
i and Iho htilldlnit, which IIIIU
withstood ni'vuri! sliiiini In pant
years, collnpsed.
Duiniij;1' In llm jntrrlur Hixlliintt
uf tho InwiiNlilp IncliKliil lulK'n
.reCH and downed wlrwi coupli-d
willi ijuH'-'ini ul flivwllni: In imiuy
ties where-drains crailil not keep
up with lliu tntri'iitlul rnlii'. which
accompanied tin: storm.


Post a Comment