No, this isn’t a war zone; it’s Main Street in 1938. Welcome to week 3 of Disaster Month, presented by the Photo of the Week blog.
In early September of 1938, a huge tropical storm took root in Africa. It gained speed and turned into a Category 5 storm over the Atlantic ocean, and struck down in the US in Florida. Although meteorologists had barometers to predict some of the storm, radar had not yet been invented, and the news of the storm didn’t spread fast enough. The Great Hurricane of 1938 struck down in the south and started to make its way north. Officials predicted that it would blow out to sea or dry up in Virginia, but two high pressure systems pushed it in another direction: New England. Nicknamed the “Long Island Express”, the hurricane ripped through New York, causing oceans to rise and destroying Long Island. Then it hit Massachusetts.
The hurricane just happened to breeze through Massachusetts during a high tide and during the Autumnal Equinox, making ocean waters particularly high already. When the “Yankee Clipper” came along, it completely devastated MA. The eye of the storm caused major damage in the Western part of the state, including flash floods and power outages. Winds topping off at 186 mph ripped through boats in the New Bedford Harbor. Boston wasn’t affected too badly, but as you can see from this picture, Andover was still struck hard. Our archives house hundreds of photos of the damaged houses, trees, and cars.
After blowing down numerous trees in Quebec, the hurricane finally died out at sea.
If you have time for a lengthy first-hand account from an Andover man, check out this letter: http://www.wodc.org/1938.htm