From One Storm Survivor to Another

By Pat Haffert

storm, damage, sandy, hurricane, noreaster, helical piers, helical piles,
All that was left of the Surfside, the family home and business of the Haffert family after the ’62 Storm.

My brothers and I awoke on Tuesday, March 6, 1962, to the joyous news that school had been cancelled due to flooding.  In a matter of a mere 12 hours, our attitudes would change dramatically.  Other family members were not faring as well as we, having lost their power and heat.  So my father invited his parents and his brother’s family to share our large space overlooking the beach to get a bird’s eye view of the unfolding storm.

The Surfside, '62 Storm, Sea Isle City, New Jersey, The Sandy Solution
The Surfside overlooked Sea Isle City’s picturesque beach before it was destroyed in the ’62 Storm.

We watched through a large picture window as the waves battered, then splintered our bulkhead.  Now the house shuddered with each wave that rushed unfettered under our home.  Unbeknownst to us, this wave action was scouring out around the old cedar piles that had only been driven to refusal as was the practice at the time the building had been built.  As the children were sitting down to dinner, the cedar piles supporting the structure on the beach side gave way and our home lurched forward on a 15-degree angle.  It was like a scene from the Titanic as every cabinet door and refrigerator door flew open and occupants, furniture, and our belongings crashed to the floor.  It was the first and hopefully the last time I will ever hear the words my father uttered that day “Helen, take the children and run”.  That was it.  That was the evacuation plan… run for your lives.

I was born, raised, and have lived most of my life in Sea Isle City – a barrier island ravaged by the sea during three momentous days in March 1962.  Along the oceanfront, only two homes survived the most devastating weather event to ever hit the town.  The impact on the town and the lives of the community was enormous.  However, not a single life was lost and a spirited selfless sense of community helped to clean up the mess and rebuild the city.  The county, state and federal governments helped as well with grants, low interest loans, machines, and manpower.

storm, sandy, '62 storm, helical piers, helical piles
Horace Haffert, Pat’s father, picks through the rubble of their destroyed home after the ’62 Storm.

Today, I still live in Sea Isle, but I work for Danbro Distributors in Philadelphia, PA.  We distribute helical piers – a versatile segmented pile that screws into the ground and is used as a foundation element (among other uses).  Many engineers, architects and contractors are quite familiar with our system and may be recommending them as part of the required house raisings post Sandy.  There is more information on this piering system on our website including some completed jobs and a video showing how it works.

From a business standpoint, I hope you will consider our product.  It can be a cost saving alternative to moving your home off its foundation to drive timber.  From a personal standpoint, you need to do what is best for you and your families.  These are difficult times for those affected by Sandy so whatever serves your pocketbook, your peace of mind, and your community is the right course.

In addition to visiting the Danbro website, I invite you to contact me at with any questions you may have.  I request that you visit our website first as that will answer many of your questions.

I know what it is like to have lots of questions with limited options.  Regardless of what decisions you make or direction you take, I wish you and your family the best.


Pat Haffert

Pat Haffert is the Seminar Manager for Danbro Distributors.  If you or your company is interested in a lunch-and-learn presentation on the use of helical piers, please contact him at  

To learn more about Pat’s storm survival story, check out The Press of Atlantic City‘s short documentary, “Weathering the Storm” and their Special Feature article published on March 1, 2012, “50 years later, are we prepared for the inevitable next time?”


  • […] heard the story many times since then.  The first time was the most shocking, but every subsequent revisit brought […]

  • […] Pat’s previous article, “From One Storm Survivor to Another,” to learn more about his own family’s storm […]

  • […] Pat’s previous articles, ”A Safer Way to Save Your House” and “From One Storm Survivor to Another,” to learn more about his own family’s storm survival […]

  • […] Pat’s previous articles, ”A Safer Way to Save Your House,” “From One Storm Survivor to Another,” and “Surviving Sandy: Compassion and […]

  • […] Pat’s previous articles: ”A Safer Way to Save Your House,” “From One Storm Survivor to Another,” “Surviving Sandy: Compassion and Construction,” and “Tight Spaces: Access […]

  • […] week marks the one year anniversary of our first post on this blog, Helical Pier Happenings.  Every week, we have been producing new content for […]

  • […] Pat’s previous articles: ”A Safer Way to Save Your House,” “From One Storm Survivor to Another,” “Surviving Sandy: Compassion and Construction,” “Tight Spaces: Access Granted,” and […]

  • […] before, my dad has a run-for-your-life story from the ’62 Storm. You can read more about it here. It’s an incredible story, but what may be even more incredible is that it still doesn’t […]

  • […] Pat’s previous articles: ”A Safer Way to Save Your House,” “From One Storm Survivor to Another,” “Surviving Sandy: Compassion and Construction,” “Tight Spaces: Access Granted,” and […]

  • […] My dad and I have written about the storm before.  He and his family, not unlike many others, lost their home, business, and everything they owned.  The brunt of the storm notwithstanding, the flooding played a key factor.  The water undermined the foundation of their home causing it to shift 15 degrees while they were inside of it.  They had to wade through it to escape their falling home.  It was cold, dangerous, and full of debris.  After the storm had quelled, intense flooding impacted their movements and escape plans.  It took three days for island evacuations to start.  When my grandfather rebuilt the family home, he made sure to build it a foot and half above the high water mark of the ’62 Storm.  He never had flooding in that house.  Superstorm Sandy came the closest though – an inch more and it would have entered.  The water levels are clearly rising dramatically. […]

  • […] not only participates in FEMA’s PrepareAthon! initiative every year by preparing our own homes for storms and flooding, but also by continually educating design professionals, engineers, architects, building […]

  • […] updated rebuilding programs, and much more.  We at DANBRO know first hand how storm’s affect individuals and communities.  We know first hand how Sandy devastated our beloved region.  And we continue to […]