Most everyone in Cecil County has settled in on this last Sunday evening in October to see what Hurricane Sandy has in store for us as she wobbles her way up the Atlantic Seaboard and closes in on the mid-Atlantic coast. Normally this time of year, we’d be busy anticipating the tricks and treats of Halloween, but instead the television weather forecasters have grabbed out attention by talking about this “Frankenstorm.” They coined that term in light of the unique conditions that are coming together at the end of Oct. as Sandy on her inland journey from the coast merges with a winter cold front that is pushing eastward. Well, with most people having finished preparations for the big blast, we’ll have to wait it out now and see how Sandy is going to treat us with this Halloween surprise.
However it’s not the first time the area has been near the center of a major Atlantic Ocean storm. In fact, a check of the historical record shows plenty of times when we’ve had brushes with these damaging weather events. Back in the 1950s, it seems those meteorologist had to constantly eye the Chesapeake during the hurricane season.
When Hazel roared through the county in October 1954, it was described as the storm of the century. Violent, sustained winds of 60 to 70 mph snapped trees, severed electric and telephone lines, tore apart buildings, and inflicted extensive damage along the county’s waterfront.
Less than a year later Cecil was in store for a double punch. In mid-August Hurricanes Connie, quickly followed by Diane, dumped 8 inches of rain on the county in a few days, according to the Elkton weatherman H. Wirt Bouchelle. Connie came right up the Chesapeake Bay. The flooding caused extensive damage as river and creeks overflowed, winds toppled trees and lights flickered off and phones went dead.
The night Connie tore through Cecil County, Elkton Police Chief White patrolled the county seat, watching the rising water and answering emergency calls. Just after 2:00 a.m., he wrote in the police blotter, “quite – raining heavy – no calls.” Officer Edgar Startt summarized it, “Bad night . . . off duty,” as he penned his last entry for the evening tour of duty at 11:00 p.m. in the police blotter.
Connie wasn’t so windy as far as the county was concerned, but people could say “she was all wet,” the Cecil Democrat reported. Practically all parts of the county felt the effects of gales ranging from 35 to 45 miles an hour and the eight inches of rain thrown on the area in less than a week. Phone and power customers were also hard hit, although there was no comparison with Hurricane Hazel, the paper added.
Of course, there are many others, including Agnes and Irene. Lots of people today recall those bruising clashes with mother nature, but for a longer synopsis of Maryland Hurricanes check out these links.