News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Katharine Hepburn survived Great New England Hurricane of 1938 which killed 682 and whose winds dwarfed those of Sandy and Irene. Hepburn's Connecticut home was washed away

"Biography for Katharine Hepburn," 1907-2003, IMDB

The Philadelphia Story, 1940
"Survived the Great New England Hurricane of Sept. 21, 1938 while at her summer home in the Borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook, CT. Reportedly she was there considering a marriage proposal by Howard Hughes. The storm killed at least 682. Hepburn, her family and servants barely escaped with their lives: Soon after fleeing it on foot in the storm, her home was washed away along with her Oscar for her film Morning Glory (1933) which was later found intact. Hepburn rebuilt the home in 1939, and was locally famous for running people off "her" (public) beach in her later years."

Katharine Hepburn on the beach in 1938 in Connecticut where her home had been before being destroyed in the 1938 Great New England Hurricane, photo CT. Historical Society
A series of photographs at The Connecticut Historical Society shows her on the beach amidst the debris which was all that was left of her home following the Hurricane of 1938. The Hepburn house was later rebuilt and Hepburn died there in 2007 at the age of 96. - See more at:

Hepburn rebuilt Fenwick in 1939.


9/20/2013, "AP PHOTOS: The Great New England Hurricane of 1938," AP, Lynn Tuohy, Plymouth

Peterborough, N.H. 1938 Hurricane
"It slammed into land and rapidly moved north, destroying buildings, altering coastlines, ripping apart forests and shocking a population that had never experienced a hurricane.

About 700 people died 75 years ago when the storm known variously as the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 or the Long Island Express began plowing up the Northeast coastline at 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 21, 1938.

A weather station in Massachusetts recorded sustained winds of 121 mph and gusts as high as 186 mph — a major storm by modern standards that dwarfs the land wind speeds recorded in storms Irene and Sandy, which also devastated parts of the Northeast in recent years.

"It was the strongest, the most devastating, the deadliest and the costliest for the region and still is," says Lourdes Aviles, a Plymouth State University meteorology professor in Plymouth, N.H., who this month published the book "Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane."

The hurricane was the death knell for many mills and factories that had barely survived the Great Depression. It stripped 4 million bushels of apples from orchards, killed livestock and felled millions of trees, according to Aviles' research. Bridges and dams were destroyed, and rail travel was halted for weeks.

The hurricane's death toll varies from 500 to 800, depending on the source. Aviles adopts the Works Progress Administration's count of 682. Tidal surges as high as 26 feet were recorded, and Rhode Island suffered the most casualties.

The storm was notable not only for the death and destruction it spawned, but also the forward speed that gave it one of its nicknames. It hit Long Island, N.Y., and southern Connecticut moving at an amazing 47 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Despite the recent woes brought by Sandy and Irene, any similar storm in the future will beset a population that has no appreciation of what a true hurricane is, Aviles says.

"No matter what storm you think about in the last century," she says, "nothing here compares with 1938.""

Image above: "In this photo from the collection of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, shows flood waters in the center of town in Peterborough, N.H. during the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. Sept. 21, 1938, Seventy-five years ago the hurricane was estimated to have killed between 682 and 800. It remains the most powerful and deadliest hurricane in recent New England history. (AP Photo/Monadnock Center for History and Culture)


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