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80th Anniversary: The Great New England Hurricane of 1938

Storm hit Vermont on the evening of September 21st

BARRE, Vt. - It came with out little warning, a monster hurricane turning up the east coast of the United States, making landfall September 21st, 1938.

This storm is know as 'The Great New England Hurricane of 1938' also know as, 'The Long Island Express'. 

During this time forecasting was still in its infancy stage, also hurricanes were not names until 1953.

The hurricane made landfall on Long Island, unleashing devastating destruction on southern New England. Later that night, Vermont started to feel the effects. 

"There were two large impacts to the state of Vermont. The southern third of the state was really impacted by water and flooding," said Steve Perkins, executive director for the Vermont Historical Society. 

Perkins says, the damage done to Vermont was awful, but paled in comparison to what was seen on Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. 

"That destroyed a number of homes and definitely a lot of infrastructure. A lot of the railways were taken out, a lot of the roads were taken out," said Perkins. 

Perkins also said, Vermont had built a flood resilience plan coming after the great flood of 1927, minimizing the flood potential.

"Across northern Vermont, there was mainly wind damage. More specifically roofs coming off of barns and trees falling on cars," said Perkins.

Tree damage was also widespread, with enough trees compromised to have 2.6-billion board-feet.

To haul that amount of wood, took 400,000 truck loads.

This storm claimed close to 700 lives, with the majority lost on Long Island and across southern New England.

Damage was estimated at $306-million, in todays dollars it would be close to 18-million.


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