Hurricane Irene (and other forces of nature) go down in local history

credit: Ivrie Myrhe

Since this is the website for the Historical Society of Riverton, the operative word being ‘historical,’ it is worth noting some remarkable facts which we shall record for August 2011. A rare 5.8 earthquake struck NJ August 23rd, followed closely by a hurricane, tornado warnings, and floods. And according to the yesterday’s Courier-Post, it is now official: For the Philadelphia/South Jersey region, August is already the wettest month in recorded history, breaking a century-old record.

I wondered how Riverton would fare after the white-capped Delaware finished slamming that riverwall at high tide and hurricane winds ripped through the streets and avenues of our favorite Tree City. So I emailed my stringers (actually two other HSR Board members) and they checked in with this report.

The sea was angry that day, my friends. (credit: Susan Dechnik)

My friend and former teaching partner at RPS, Susan Dechnik accompanies her Facebook photos of Irene’s effects on the riverbank with an àpropos quote from Seinfeld, her favorite TV show. It’s from the classic “Marine Biologist” episode.

She reports that winds blew down a large part of a tree near 8th & Main, blocking the sidewalk.

She adds, “The river was wild, didn’t breach the bank, but was splashing over.  The wind was incredible and a little scary.”

Does that line of debris across the grass indicate the high water mark? (credit; Ivrie Myhre)

HSR President Gerald Weaber reports that the river rose above the riverwall and winds had strewn about some limbs and branches, but he did not hear of any major damage from the storm.

These few stills, kindly provided by local photographer Ivrie Myhre of confirm that Riverton generally withstood what Irene dished out.

That was not the case for all the surrounding communities, however.

credit: Ivrie Myhre

Just five minutes away at Riverton Road and Rte. 130, Irene’s capricious winds toppled a large tree in front of Bayard’s Chocolate House, and her relentless rains flooded some Cinnaminson homes and streets.

Our HSR website gets dozens, sometimes even over a hundred visits daily. True, most of them were probably googling for Rivertons in CT, CA, IL, UT, VA, WY, or even AU and wound up here by mistake. Nonetheless, inquiring readers want to know, Rivertonians. What happened in your neighborhood?

You can click on the Facebook link at the bottom of this page to visit the HSR wall where Susan Dechnik and a varied, albeit short, cast of characters “liked” us in a moment of lapsed judgment.  Please join in.

Also, that CinnaminsonPatch is a cool community-specific news, events, and information website that I never heard of, but one which I’ll certainly look up again. You’ll find more photo galleries by Ivrie Myhre and other local photographers along with news stories written by the local Patch Team.

It’s a young and growing website, but if the amount of Riverton coverage continues to expand they may have to change the name.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

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