Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene and 1938

Hurricane Irene is seemingly heading up the east coast and if it holds a specific path it could slam straight into Long Island, New York. It happened once before.

Whenever nature explodes in an aberrational fury, we quickly reestablish awe for her power and acknowledge respect for a force we cannot totally understand or appreciate. Today we have satellite technology that warns us of pending danger. Not so back in 1938.

On September 21st, that year forecasters knew there was a hurricane out there, but figured it would blow itself out.
The North Atlantic was under a high-pressure plateau and the then nameless hurricane was being squeezed toward the Northeast.

By two O'clock in the afternoon the Atlantic City Board walk was gone. Then a 40-foot wall of water, a tidal surge, hit Long Island's south shore with such impact it registered on a seismograph in Alaska.

Mansions disappeared. Towns collapsed. Boats splintered. It was the same throughout New England. All told, 63 thousand lost their homes. Nearly 18-hundred were injured. 700 died.

Communications were down. Newspapers did not learn of the destruction for days.

America had suffered a disaster greater than the Chicago Fire or the San Francisco earthquake, but what most people knew was that Hitler had seized Czechoslovakia that same day.

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