Atlantic Coast, NY, NJ, NH, CT, MA, RI Hurricane "Long Island Express," Sept 1938

Napatree Point RI Before Hurricane Napatree Point RI After Hurricane Petersborough NH Flood fire 9-28-1938.jpg Hartford Connecticut Fire after the Hurricane Hurricane Force Winds Piles of Debris

Earlier Estimates.
Early estimates were that the damage would exceed $50,000,000. Gov. QUINN said Rhode Island's loss would be $10,000,000 to $15,000,000. Whole summer colonies on Long Island were destroyed. In some places the contour of the coast was changed by great washouts.
The entire coast guard personnel of 2,500 officers and men was assigned to rescue work. Coast guard headquarters in Washington ordered the Norfolk, Va., division to be ready to send reinforcements north. The coast guard estimated that 600 small boats in the New York area had been sunk or pounded to pieces. The coast guard station at Fire Island was washed out to sea. The station at Moriches was abandoned, the crew escaping in boats but losing their belongings when the building "just disappeared," according to official reports.
The remaining coast guard stations were swamped with urgent calls for help. It was reported that an officer and two men of the Woods Hole, Mass. station were among the dead.

Guardsmen In 39 Towns.
National guardsmen were out in 39 towns in Massachusetts. The Boston Edison Electric company, which serves 40 towns with power, reported wires were down to 17 of them.
Gov. CHARLES F. HURLEY of Massachusetts declared a "state of emergency" and appointed emergency food and fuel administrators.
The staff of the Providence, R. I., Journal-Bulletin, driven from the plant, went to Boston, 50 miles away, to publish yesterday's evening edition. The tidal wave had caused havoc. Legionnaires and volunteers joined national guardsmen in rescue and patrol work. Many were armed to prevent looting. Thousands were marooned in office buildings. At the height of the storm, a tank car, containing 3,000 cubic feet of illuminating gas, exploded. It was not learned if there had been any casualties. Roofs were blown from the central police station, public library and union station.

Five Women Drowned.
Five women were drowned in the Piscatoquog river when a bridge collapsed at Ware, N.H.
At Hampden, Mass., 200 inmates of the county jail rioted when water rose in the streets. Riot squads from Springfield subdued them.
At Springfield, the grandstand at the Eastern States exposition ground collapsed, injuring four and when 10,000 spectators stampeded in panic, scores were trampled.
Failure of power and telephone service left doctors to perform emergency operations by search light and cut residents of many towns off from communication with their police.
Looting was reported in a few areas.
Officials of the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Steamboat company had grave fears for the fate of the "Park City." It had been reported missing yesterday afternoon, but during the night a coast guard boat reported that it was safely anchored four miles off Port Jefferson. Later, when the storm subsided, it could not be found.
One of the first towns struck was West Hampton, Long Island. Eight were dead and 30 missing there.
Wrecked houses were swept as much as a mile inland. Police Chief Stephen Teller and Sgt. Timothy Robinson used a floating roof for a raft and pulled 40 persons from the water. All 42 of them floated four hours before they were rescued.
The town's water supply was shut off during the night on orders of the board of health. Throughout the night searchers sloshed through the debris hunting bodies, with lanterns and candles providing their only light.
At Long Beach, on the south shore of Nassau county, DR. GEORGE REISS, chief surgeon at the hospital, performed an emergency appendectomy on PHYLLIS GORDEN, 13, under the searchlights of a fire truck.

New York City Drenched.
New York city's 7,000,000 inhabitants, who barely escaped the worst of the storm, were drenched with a 4 1/2 inch rain. The wind blew 75 miles an hour. Lights failed for two hours last night in two sections of the city. Subway service was halted for a time and thousands were stranded. Two of the four Manhattan-Hudson tubes were closed by water. Commuters were unable to reach Long Island.
The Queen Mary was held at her dock all night with 868 passengers. The Ile de France arrived shortly before the worst of the wind, listing as the gale lashed its port side. The Staten island ferryboat Knickerbocker, loaded with 200 passengers, tipped at its dock on the battery and almost overturned.
Suburban Westchester county was hard hit. Roads were blocked, bridges washed out, an estimated 10,000 trees uprooted. More than 100 homes were flooded in New Rochelle. Fifty persons were evacuated from Williston Park.
At Ossining, N.Y., parts of Sing Sing prison were without lights.
Gov. HERBERT H. LEHMAN'S home at Purchase, N. Y., was struck by a tree. The governor was at home at the time but reported that he and his family were safe.

Dunkirk Evening Observer New York 1938-09-22

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Comments

1938 "Long Island Express" Hurricane, MA

My mother was 16 years old at the time this hurricane occurred, and living in S. Dartmouth, MA, Padanaram Village. She and a group of friends were out after school, marveling at being able to 'lean on the wind' without danger of falling over.
They were standing on the sidewalk of a bridge across the river, looking at what was happening, joking around, when they suddenly discovered themselves ankle-deep in water.
Just about that time, as they were deciding they'd better scoot on home, a police officer came along and shooed them off the bridge. Had this been later in the event instead of at the onset, they would have been in serious danger, and I might not be here to relate my mother's tale.