Looking Back: The 50th Anniversary of Hurricane Agnes
|Lessons Learned Help Prepare Maryland for Future Storms
REISTERSTOWN, Md. (June 22, 2022) — This June marks the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Agnes striking Maryland and cutting a devastating path across much of the East Coast. According to the National Weather Service, Agnes was one of the most destructive hurricanes in United States history, claiming 117 lives and causing damage estimated at $3.1 billion in 12 states. Damage was particularly high in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
In Maryland, 21 lives were lost to flooding spawned by the remnants of Agnes, and it remains the deadliest named storm in state history. Agnes highlights the inland flooding threats from tropical storms, which often claims more lives and causes more damage than the high winds and storm surge where the storms make landfall.
“Agnes highlighted the dangers of inland flooding in Maryland from tropical storms,” said Maryland Department of Emergency Management Secretary Russ Strickland. “The aftermath of Agnes also has shown the importance of mitigating future flood events. In downtown Frederick, for example, the Carroll Creek flood mitigation project has reduced flooding in the area and has created a walkable greenspace that enhances the business district.”
The storm made landfall on the Florida panhandle as a weak hurricane and quickly dropped to a tropical storm while heading northeast through Georgia, South Carol, and North Carolina. The storm headed out to sea at the North Carolina-Virginia border as it began to affect the mid-Atlantic. For the next two days, the center of the storm traveled along the Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey coast line, dumping heavy rains in areas west of the storm track.
Agnes made landfall again over Long Island and eventually into southeast New York state on the night of June 22, and then was joined by a low-pressure system. This created two storm centers, one of which moved into south central New York, and another that formed in northeastern Pennsylvania before looping southwest into central Pennsylvania.
Not only did the storm drop heavy rain on Maryland as it moved up the coast, but the heavy rains in central New York and Pennsylvania caused heavy flooding in northeast Maryland from the Susquehanna River watershed several days later.
Want to learn more about the history of Agnes and some of the ways it changes flood mitigation and emergency management? A website focusing on the history of the storm and flood mitigation effort has been created by several Silver Jackets teams in the mid-Atlantic region. Silver Jackets are state-based teams of State, local and federal partners who work together to reduce risks from floods and other weather-related events. The National Weather Service also has a page dedicated to historical events related to Hurricane Agnes.
Hurricane Agnes was a costly but valuable lesson in emergency preparedness. This hurricane season, keep yourself and your family safe by learning about the following preparedness steps.
Know Your Zone:
It’s as easy as A-B-C. Know Your Zone is a new color-coded interactive map you can use to determine which storm evacuation zone you live in based upon your street address. Knowing your zone will help you avoid unnecessary evacuation travel, thereby reducing highway congestion, easing overcrowding at local storm shelters and boosting public safety. Simply click the ‘Find Your Zone” button. Enter your address on the map and view your color-coded evacuation zone. Emergency managers will work with local media and use social media and other tools to notify residents of impacted zones and what to do to stay safe.
You can learn more and find your Zone here: bit.ly/-Know-Your-Zone
Make a Plan:
- Prepare an emergency kit and create a family communications plan.
- Have multiple ways to receive weather watches and warnings and keep devices charged so they will still be usable for several hours if you lose power.
- Familiarize yourself with hurricane evacuation routes in your area and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
- Trim the trees and shrubs around your home to make them more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage can, and anything else that is not tied down.
- Consider installing a generator for emergency backup power generation.
You can learn more about what to do Before, During, and After a Hurricane here: bit.ly/-Before-During-After
Create a Kit:
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life.
To prepare your kit, gather the following supplies:
- First Aid Kit
- Tools and Supplies
- Clothing & Bedding
- Special Items for children, older adults, those with special needs and pets.
You can learn more about building a Disaster Kit here: bit.ly/-Build-A-Kit
NOTE: Emergency Management staff will be available for media interviews to discuss Hurricane Agnes and its aftermath over the next several days,
Jorge Castillo, email@example.com, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872