70th Anniversary of the Great New England Hurricane of 1938

 1938 hurricane - NB Standard Times If you are a baby-boomer like me who grew up in Southeastern New England like me, the 1938 hurricane is the stuff of legend. While many of our parents experienced this storm first hand, they were probably very young. But our grandparents, aunts and uncles and family elders told the stories that would leave an impression on a young child for a lifetime.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of “a wind that shook the world.” It was a monster hurricane that arrived unannounced and hastily. It came at a time when television had not yet become a household appliance and weather reporting was more about yesterday than tomorrow and beyond. Needless to say, people were not prepared and the storm exacted its toll.

Steve Urbon wrote a great piece entitled Remembering a Killer for today’s New Bedford Standard Times commemorating this devastating event for our area’s communities. While many of those who have experienced it first hand have passed on, they were able to get a few locals to tell their stories that are definitely worth reading. They also have a video with the Westport Historical Society which is worth watching but unfortunately it loaded very slowly for me. 

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN59fcdrd1M]
YouTube – Westport and the Hurricane of ’38

The following newsreel does a great job in capturing the devastation, especially in downtown Providence, RI where the storm surge up Narragansett Bay brought more that 13 feet of water at such a rapid rate that some believed it to be a tidal wave.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA-3zULhCvM]
YouTube – 1938 Hurricane

Finally, its sad and a bit troubling that the recent hurricane that struck Texas and has left so many homeless in Galveston, was eclipsed in the media last week by the man-made storm that struck Wall Street.

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Peter A. Mello

Husband, father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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