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CBR4 #13: Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 by R.A. Scotti

This past summer, there was a lot of hullabaloo about hurricane Irene. The idea of a hurricane hitting all the way up in here in New England with any kind of strength seemed somewhat ridiculous. Hurricanes are a southern thing, right? Something that people in Florida and Louisiana and places along the coast down there have to worry about, not those of us in Boston! Turns out, that wasn't true this summer, and it certainly wasn't true in September of 1938, either.

R.A. Scotti has put together an informative, well-researched book about what happened when a giant hurricane struck along the northern Atlantic coast. Due to lack of communication between the few weather tracking bureaus at the time, no one expected the storm. It hit as a category five, with an unimaginable fury: destroying hundreds of houses, uprooting trees, derailing trains, killing numerous people, and changing the landscape of the New England coast forever.

The author tells the stories of several groups who managed to weather the storm, riding on the storm surge on cars, a roof that had torn free, or even a set of outdoor steps. As a result of the devestation, the federal government began to make reforms in how weather was predicted and how knowledge could be shared in order to avoid such a tragedy in the future.The storm's ferocity and unexpected arrival was a terrifying reminder at the time that although men were making great strides in technology, nature could still be unpredictable and destructive.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in disaster history or in the science of hurricanes.

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