Remembering Hurricane Carol
Did you witness Hurricane Carol in 1954? Tell me about it! And if you have a picture you're willing to share, that's all the better. I'd love to hear from you and I'll add what you have to say to our "Your Views" page. So if you have something to share, please:
Send me email, Greg Stone
This was a real nice shock - the Providence Journal called for what I assumed was a few paragraphs in a general story about Hurricane Carol. Instead it turned out to be a story devoted to this Web site and it ran on Page 1 on the 50th anniversary of the Hurricane.
They did an excellent job and the result was a real surge of hits on the Web site and many new stories from people about their own experiences. (What I like most about this was I didn't promote the Web site to them - they discovered the web site on their own and contacted me. )if you have a problem getting to it, try here.
In 1954 I was 13 and the most exciting thing to happen was Hurricane Carol. I took pictures during the storm and after the storm, made them into sets, and sold them to neighbors. Here are the pictures and my memories along with those of family and friends. Greg Stone 1>
Rowing down Mathewson Road
It was the eye of the storm - that eerie quiet you get if you are right in the middle of a hurricane - and as near as we could tell looking back on it, we were in the middle of Hurricane Carol, yet at the time we hardly knew it. I have vague memories of my rising excitement that morning as word spread that what we were experiencing was not just another Nor'easter, but a full-fledged hurricane!
The year was 1954 and although we had decent weather forecasts, there was nothing like the build up and maps and satellite photos that major storms get today. When most Rhode Islanders woke up on August 31,1954, they knew they were in for a storm - a strong Nor'easter - nothing more. Yes, there had been a devastating hurricane in 1938, but that was before I was born, and it was considered by most a once-in-a-century type thing. To me 1938 seemed like ancient history - something old folks talked about.
But by noon on August 31, which is about when this picture was taken, we knew this was much more than a normal storm. The tide had come in rapidly and risen higher than any who were not here in 1938 had seen. But then it got calm, there was little or no current, and my brother, Don, and Tommy Parker, rowed their boats down Mathewson Road. I was standing on a little hill in front of our house - the water didn't reach us - when I took this picture of Tommy Parker. I'm sure it's Tommy. I think the person in the stern of the skiff is Dickie Larrabee, his best friend at the time, and I'm not sure who is in the bow. The boy in the foreground is Bruce Richmond.
Maybe if we'd known it was a hurricane - the worst I have seen in my life then or since - we would have been more cautious. My wife-to-be, Brenda Hirst, stayed inside. Her mother was wise. When some kids came to the door to ask if Bren could come out and play, she was "livid" that they would even consider such a thing. "Out to play!" But Bren's father had gone to work in Providence as usual that morning, and he would sit in the Amica building and like so many others, watch the downtown suddenly become flooded and cars almost go out of sight beneath the waters.
Notice in the picture how Tommy has to detour around a huge, downed elm tree, while avoiding a half-submerged hedge? I'm not sure what he was doing or where he was headed. I'm not even positive if the tide was coming in or going out, but I think it was coming in and I think this was probably about half an hour before its peak, maybe around 11:30 am.