Thirty-Eight: The Hurricane That Transformed New England

Thursday, September 13 at 7:00PM  — Union Hall in Newfane Village  

On the 80th anniversary of the Hurricane of ’38 almost to the day — Steve Long will present how the ’38 Hurricane transformed New England, bringing about social and ecological changes that can still be observed these many decades later.

A hurricane will never surprise us again. But that’s just what happened to the people of New England and Long Island on September 21, 1938.   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 was its editor for 17 years.   Copies of his book Thirty Eight  will be available for purchase.  The program is sponsored by both the Historical Society of Windham County and the Moore Free Library.   Admission is free.