2013-09-19 / Editorial

Our most destructive storm – the Hurricane of ’38

It has been 75 years since the Hurricane of 1938 and we are still amazed by the unbridled power that Mother Nature unleashed on New England.

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, 1938, the day began like most fall days. Students went to school. People went to work. Little did they know that a hurricane was heading their way. That hurricane is now classified as the most destructive storm to hit Jamestown in recent memory. The loss of life and the destruction of property were unparalleled.

In this week’s issue of the Press, islanders who lived through the hurricane recall the storm’s power. They were youngsters at the time the hurricane hit Jamestown.

The hurricane arrived on the shores of our island in the days when weather forecasting was in its infancy. Today we know well in advance of any approaching tropical storms or hurricanes. There is plenty of time for people to secure their properties and prepare for evacuation, if needed.

In 1938, the hurricane was a complete surprise. The storm changed the nature of the island. The ferries were thrown ashore, leaving islanders cut off from the mainland. Buildings along the waterfront at East Ferry and West Ferry were demolished. Seven children were killed when they were swept away from the school bus at Mackerel Cove.

Shortly following the hurricane, islanders voted to build a bridge across West Passage. The days of the ferries were numbered.

If anything, we’ve learned to respect the destructive force of hurricanes and prepare for their approach.

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