Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hurricane Carol, 1954

From http://www.geocities.com/hurricanene/hurricanecarol.htm

Hurricane Carol produced storm surge of 8 to 13-feet across the Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut, and southeastern Massachusetts coastlines.

Although Carol's storm surge were at least 3 to 5-feet lower than the 38 hurricane, some locations reported record tidal surges. Just as in 1938 - Carol arrived close to the time of high tide.

Observers in Montauk, Long Island reported that the ocean completely crossed the Montauk highway, cutting off the far eastern tip of Long Island for a time. On Shore Road, the main coastal road along the beach in Westerly, Rhode Island, tides up to 13-feet above mean water were estimated.

The water rose to within 1-foot of the record high water line on the Plaque at the Old Market House in Downtown Providence commemorating the Great 1938 Hurricane - 12.9-feet above mean water.

In Connecticut, the storm surge was severe east of the Connecticut River. A tidal measurement of 8-feet above mean tide was recorded at the Groton Railroad Station.

The frightening intensity of Hurricane Carol's storm surge in Rhode Island is captured in this photograph of Westerly, Rhode Island. Buildings in the center of the photo were floated off their foundations, while buildings in the lower portion were swept completely away, only slabs and driveways remain (Photo Rhode Island National Guard 9/54).

Many buildings along the Rhode Island coast lost their roof in Carol's howling winds. This building was located at the eastern end of Misquamicut Beach in Westerly. (Photo Rhode Island National Guard 9/2/54).

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Why am I posting about this hurricane?

I could have been one of the casualties.

We lived in Pawcatuck, Connecticut, right on the border with Westerly Rhode Island. In fact, our mail came through the Westerly Post Office. Both towns share the same Chamber of Commerce.

us[4]The red icon on this map was our house, the Pawcatuck River is the dividing line between the two states.

The day this hurricane started roaring towards Misquamicut Beach, my mother said words that would be repeated often in our family "Let's go down and see the waves".

Well, we did go see the waves and they were very impressive, of course.

At some point my parents decided it was time to go but the roads were flooded and our car stalled. I don't remember how long we were stuck but I remember being very afraid.

It was a very narrow road with no room to pass.

Fortunately, a truck driver was driving through and he wanted to get out of the path of the hurricane, so he pushed us to safety. Thank goodness! We'd have washed out to sea like so many of the trailers on the beach did. 4000 beach cottages were destroyed.

Carol010After we got home, the river overflowed its banks by about 8 feet. Fortunately, we lived on a little hill above Route 1 which had turned into a river of its own. Many people could be seen out in rowboats.

When the water finally receded, sandbags could be seen at the doors of all the shops downtown but they hadn't kept out the water. A massive restoration project had to start.

It was very nice to be in the relative safety of our hilltop - finally!

The Edgewood Yacht Club in Rhode Island is submerged by Hurricane Carol's storm surge in 1954. (Photo C. Flagg).

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If anyone says to you "Let's go down and see the waves" don't go!