Thursday, September 13 – The Hurricane of ’38

Thursday, September 13 at 7:00

Union Hall, Newfane Village

A hurricane will never surprise us again. But that’s just what happened to the people of Long Island and New England on September 21, 1938.   Author, Steve Long, chronicles how the hurricane of ’38 transformed New England, bringing about social and ecological changes that can still be observed these many decades later. 

In 1938, not a single living person had ever experienced a hurricane in New England. The previous one had been so long before that people in the Northeast believed that hurricanes only happened down south. Florida, Texas, maybe North Carolina. Not Vermont. Then, without warning,  the most destructive weather event to ever hit the Northeast blasted its way through all the way to Quebec.

To call it “New England’s Katrina” might be to understate its power. On Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the “Long island Express” killed hundreds of people and destroyed roads, bridges, dams, and buildings that stood in its path.

Not yet spent, the hurricane then raced inland, maintaining 100 mile per hour winds into Vermont and New Hampshire and uprooted more than a half million acres of forest. It knocked down forests in patches large and small across a region totaling 15 million acres. City streets and rural roads were criss-crossed with a tangle of trunks and limbs, all of which had to be removed with axes and crosscut saws.

Steve Long is the founder of Northern Woodlands magazine and editor of the magazine for 17 years.