The 1938 Hurricane

The storm hit about mid-day while kids were in school and people were going about their everyday business.The warnings were kind of luke-warm because there was very little understanding about hurricane paths.After it hit Long Island , it moved at a speed of 70 mph and was on us before we knew it. There were no colorful images on TV because there were no satelites or TV.Jet planes were not flying into the eyes of storms and reporting up to the minute data because the planes in 1938 were only eleven years newer than Lindberghs . Also, the "eye" itself was not well-known. One of the more devastating effects was economic in nature. The storm destroyed the few factories and mills that were providing work during a time of massive unemployment ..The Great Depression.

I was the same age as Lindbergh's plane, eleven . While looking out the windows of the Littlefield School, I was thrilled by the sight of trees bending in the wind and many of them toppling. " Don't worry children .. this is just a little storm and it will be all over soon" were the comforting words from Miss Flood(sic). We had a short walk home when school was dismissed at the regular time. Large elm trees had been weakened by disease and were easy prey to the wind.Hanging power lines were like uncontrolled whips.The power was still on and it was exciting to see the lines flaying and sparking.We didn't go directly home that day. There was too much going on. The cleanup was accomplished without chain saws and chippers.Like the building of the pyramids,one resource that was readily available was manpower.Two men, one on each end of a saw alternately pushing the blade with perfect rythym could cut through a two-foot diameter tree fairly close to the time it currently takes with power.

Read the following personal accounts from people who lived through this devastating storm:

The following stories are available from the link above:
Arthur Small Keeps His Lighthouse Operating
Benedict Thielen Tries to Save His Maid, Josephine Clarke
Harrison McDonald Has a Harrowing Train Ride
Helen Joy Lee's Story of Survival
Mrs. Orris B. Norman Describes the Destruction
Raymond A. Dennehy Golfs in the Storm
Norman Caswell was Driving a School Bus
Frank A. Crosson Was in Boston Find out more about the storm and the National Weather Service:

The Hurricane's Aftermath A Brief History of the National Weather Service