The hurricanes that made the barriers in Sothern New England

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WLNE) — Before satellites could see storms from space, we had few clues a monster storm could be heading our way.

In 1938, a sun-filled September morning became dark with clouds by afternoon and then the sky opened up with rain and wind. Along the coast, there was utter devastation.

Drew Cattano, a barrier engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, estimated the losses: “The 1938 hurricane 600 people died, 300 million dollars in damage back then equivalent to 4-5 billion of today’s dollars.”

Six years later was the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944. This one came through Southern New England with a death toll higher than 400 people and monetary damages more than $840 million in today’s dollars.

Ten years later, Hurricane Carol arrived with a storm surge of 14 feet, catastrophic flooding of Narragansett Bay and New Bedford harbor, and $5 billion of today’s dollars in damages.

Cattano said the catastrophic amount of water is the reason for the barrier: “It was designed after the 1938, ’44 and ’54 Carol brought 12-13 feet of storm surge and completely destroyed the city of New Bedford.”

The Army Corps of Engineers built several hurricane protection barriers across Southern New England in response to this trio of deadly and costly storms and maintain them faithfully to this day.

The New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier in Massachusetts, the Fox Point Hurricane Protection Barrier in Providence, Rhode Island and three  in Connecticut: The Pawcatuck Hurricane Protection Barrier, the New London Hurricane Protection Barrier, and the Stamford Hurricane Protection Barrier.

Categories: News, Scientifically Speaking