CATASTROPHE: Abyss from the Indies

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The rich colony at Newport suffered worse than their friends at Southampton. Bailey's Beach. Ocean Drive and the Clambake Club were demolished. Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney's sculpture studio was torn off its cliff. Mrs. Jock Whitney's aunt, Mrs. John C. Norris and her son John C. Jr., were drowned in their car as they tried to motor from Narragansett Pier. In a house at Misquamicut, ten women holding a church social were drowned.

Raging up Narragansett Bay, wind and water struck Providence, short circuiting all power. A 300,000 cu.-ft. gas tank exploded. Short-circuited auto horns set up a doleful din. Towns up Buzzard's Bay and along the Cape Cod Canal were devastated. A steeple in East Bridgewater fell point first through the roof of its own church. At Northfield Seminary a falling chimney killed two girls, injured 20. "Old Ironsides," torn from her moorings in Boston Navy Yard, was badly battered.

Aftermath. As the storm raced inland, veering northwest toward Montreal, it flattened crops and orchards, wrenched away miles of wires, acres of signboards. It blew away the famed Jacobs Ladder trestle on Mt. Washington. Dumping trillions of tons of rain on New England, the hurricane swelled rivers already swollen by three days of ordinary rain. Highways and railroads were washed out. In the Connecticut Valley cities marshaled sandbag brigades. Hartford held its breath while the dike by the Colt Arms factory held through a flood stage 36.45 feet. In the Thames Valley, Norwich, Conn., isolated, was supplied with food and medicines by airplane.

As the devastated East picked itself up, dried itself off, began burying its dead, Harry Hopkins flew to join the six New England Governors in Boston. To $500,000 from the Red Cross he added the promise of "unlimited funds" and 100,000 workers from WPA. Disaster Loan Corp. (subsidiary of RFC) offered rehabilitation loans. After five days, some communities were still isolated, train service had not been restored on the full New York-to-Boston run, the known dead had passed 600, the estimated damage half a billion dollars.

>At West Hampton, L. I., Arni Benedictson, Norwegian butler of Mr. & Mrs. William Ottman Jr. proved to be an Admirable Crichton straight out of Sir James Barrie's play. With meticulous calm he saved 23 people by shepherding them, including the Countess de Fontnouvelle (wife of the French consul-general) and her infant, into the Ottman house, signaling for help from the roof with a bed sheet. At the storm's height he reported to the house guests: "I am sure that our signal was observed, but the situation is most disturbing and perhaps I should venture outside and bring help from the mainland." He then fought his way through the storm to find three stout lads who helped him lead his little band to safety over a breaking bridge.

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