Political Buzz August 27, 2011: Day 1 Hurricane Irene Hits the East Coast — President Obama Visits FEMA, Tracking Storm

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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IN FOCUS: HURRICANE IRENE HITS The East Coast — PARALYZING REGION

PHOTO: Waves crash under Jeannette's Pier as the effects of Hurricane Irene are felt in Nags Head, N.C., Aug. 27, 2011.

Edge of Hurricane Irene reaches New York City: In a press conference late Saturday night, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was no longer safe for New York City residents to remain outside or to evacuate. Hurricane Irene, which has drenched the mid-Atlantic states as it has moved north, caused New York City to order about 370,000 residents of low-lying areas to leave. It was the first evacuation order for the city. The city also shuttered its transit system and closed its airports.

Hurricane Irene bears down on Virginia Beach: After slowly making its way up the East Coast, Hurricane Irene is now bearing down on Virginia Beach and other parts of eastern Virginia.
Conditions: The region is encountering the windiest period of the storm from now into the overnight hours, with National Airport reporting sustained winds of 29 mph and gusts of 40 mph. As the onslaught of rain continues, the National Hurricane Center reports water levels rising in the Virginia tidewater region.
Power outages: More than 6,500 homes and businesses in D.C. are without power, 15,000 in Prince George’s County, 10,000 in Anne Arundel and 5,000 around Baltimore. Expect these numbers to rise as gusts whip through the area overnight.
Transportation: The Bay Bridge was ordered closed at 7:35 p.m. Saturday due to severe winds and unsafe driving conditions, the Maryland Transportation Authority said.

As Hurricane Irene slams East Coast, travel woes mount: Nationwide: There were an estimated 9,000 flight cancellations nationwide, with United, Continental and Delta Air Lines canceling thousands of their flights. Air France, British Airways and other international carriers also canceled flights.
Washington: The three airports serving the Washington area remained open Saturday evening, but most flights had been canceled. D.C. Metro is not planning to close early.
Virginia: Mandatory evacuations were ordered for at least 11 localities, among them the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach, a barrier island dotted with rentals, Accomack on the Eastern Shore, and for low-lying areas of Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth.
Maryland: Mandatory evacuations ordered for Ocean City, coastal Worcester County, homes near cliffs in Calvert County. Maryland Transit Administration announced service suspension beginning Saturday evening.
New York: All three of the major airports serving New York City — Newark International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia International Airport — shut down for the duration of the storm on Saturday afternoon. Subways have also been halted.
New Jersey: New Jersey Transit trains and buses to shut down.
Pennsylvania: Mass transit serving Philadelphia and its suburbs to halt at 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Hurricane Irene makes landfall; rains start in the Washington area: Hurricane Irene made landfall as a Category 1 storm at 7:05 a.m. Saturday near Cape Hatteras, N.C. The storm leading edge arrived in the Washington area early Saturday with rain starting in the lower parts of the Chesapeake Bay and the beaches of Delaware after wind and rain battered the North Carolina coast. The East Coast of the United States continued to prepare for the storm late Friday, ordering more than a million people to evacuate the affected areas.

For more information, please visit the National Hurricane Center website at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/, the AccuWeather Hurricane Center website at: http://hurricane.accuweather.com/hurricane/index.asp and the Storm Central graphics page at: http://centralstorm.wordpress.com/.

PHOTOS: In the path of Hurricane Irene — LAT, 8-27-11

The Preparations for Hurricane Irene and Reports of Damage: Hurricane Irene made landfall Saturday morning. The storm was expected to cause flooding in a dozen states this weekend. – NYT

“All indications point to this being a historic hurricane. I cannot stress this highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay.” — President Barack Obama

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.

GOV. BEVERLY PERDUE, D-N.C.: As governor of the state, I want to remind you once again that this hurricane is real. It is headed our way. We are ready. We’re prepared for the worst. And we continue to pray for the best. I urge every citizen along the coastal plains to evacuate. It is so much better to be safe than sorry.

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY JANET NAPOLITANO: Given the amount of rain associated with this storm and the likelihood of flooding, however, I would encourage you not to focus too much on whether it’s a Category 2 or a 3. If you are in the storm path, you won’t be able to tell much difference.

MICHAEL NUTTER, (D) mayor of Philadelphia: Be prepared. Stay safe. Be smart. Evacuate, if necessary. Otherwise, please stay inside.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: So, if for some reason you were thinking about going to dinner in Atlantic City tonight, forget it. Go someplace else.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) mayor of New York: Now, we have never done a mandatory evacuation before. And we wouldn’t be doing it now if we didn’t think this storm had the potential to be very serious. The best outcome would be if the storm veers off to the east and doesn’t hit us, or doesn’t hit us hard. But we can’t depend on Mother Nature being so kind.

GOV. LINCOLN D. CHAFEE (RI): I have been monitoring the path and movement of the storm closely, and there is no doubt that Rhode Island will be hit with high winds, a storm surge, and rain generated by Hurricane Irene.
This declaration of emergency is a proactive step in our hurricane plan to ensure that we as a state are doing all we can to get Rhode Island through this storm safely and securely.
I want to stress that this is a major storm. Individual preparation is essential. Please take the necessary steps to secure your family and property and prepare to evacuate if your municipality issues an evacuation order. I am in close contact with mayors and town managers to ensure that cities and towns have the state support they need to make the best decision for their residents.

Statement by President Obama on Preparations for Hurricane Irene — WH, 8-26-11

President Obama Signs Maryland Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs Rhode Island Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs New Hampshire Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs New Jersey Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs Connecticut Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs Massachusetts Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

      President Obama Signs Virginia Emergency Declaration —

WH, 8-27-11

    • Obama says Hurricane Irene “extremely dangerous”: President Barack Obama on Friday warned Americans to take Hurricane Irene seriously and urged them to obey orders to evacuate from the path of what is likely to be an “extremely dangerous and costly” storm…. – Reuters, 8-26-11
    • Obama kept up-to-date on Irene: President Barack Obama is tracking the progress of Hurricane Irene at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s command center. The center helps coordinate the government’s response to natural disasters. The White House says the government stands ready to aid states and communities in the storm’s path…. – AP, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Pushes North With Deadly Force: Weakened but unbowed, Hurricane Irene mowed across coastal North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday as it churned up the Atlantic Seaboard toward a battened-down New York City, where officials had taken what were called the unprecedented steps of evacuating low-lying areas and shutting down the mass transit system in advance of the storm’s expected midmorning arrival on Sunday.
      Announcing itself with howling winds and hammering rains, the hurricane made landfall at Cape Lookout, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, around 7:30 a.m., ending several days of anxious anticipation and beginning who knows how many more days of response and clean-up. Downed and denuded trees. Impassable roadways. Damaged municipal buildings. Widespread flooding. The partial loss of a modest civic center’s roof, forcing the relocation of dozens of people who had found shelter there…. – NYT, 8-27-11
    • With Storm Near, 370,000 in New York City Get Evacuation Order: New York City officials issued what they called an unprecedented order on Friday for the evacuation of about 370,000 residents of low-lying areas at the city’s edges — from the expensive apartments in Battery Park City to the roller coaster in Coney Island to the dilapidated boardwalk in the Rockaways — warning that Hurricane Irene was such a threat that people living there simply had to get out.
      Officials made what they said was another first-of-its-kind decision, announcing plans to shut down the city’s entire transit system Saturday — all 468 subway stations and 840 miles of tracks, and the rest of the nation’s largest mass transit network: thousands of buses in the city, as well as the buses and commuter trains that reach from Midtown Manhattan to the suburbs…. – NYT, 8-27-11

“You guys are doing a great job, obviously. This is obviously going to be touch and go.” — President Barack Obama at FEMA Headquarters

    • With Katrina in Mind, Administration Says It’s Ready for Irene: Determined to avoid any comparisons with the federal government’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina, the Obama administration made a public display Saturday of the range of its efforts to make sure officials in the storm-drenched states had whatever help they needed from Washington.
      President Obama, who returned to Washington a day early from his summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency shortly after noon. While there, he checked in on the National Response Coordination Center, a 24-hour command center based at FEMA, where dozens of federal employees from a range of agencies were assembled around the clock to help orchestrate the response to Hurricane Irene…. – NYT, 8-27-11
    • Obama visits FEMA, predicts a ‘long 72 hours’ ahead: President Obama made an unannounced visit to the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday afternoon, where he praised the federal government’s response to Hurricane Irene after receiving briefings from governors and emergency managers.
      “So what have we got here?” Obama asked as he entered the room where FEMA has been holding daily video conferences since Monday with state and local officials, the National Hurricane Center and other federal agencies…. – LAT, 8-27-11
    • Obama steps up response as Hurricane Irene threatens floods, outages: Politicians were taking no chances as more than one-fifth of the United States braced for the possibility of metal-bending winds, severe flooding and days without electricity due to Hurricane Irene’s race up the east coast…. – Globe and Mail
    • Hurricane Irene: What You Need to Know in New York: As New York City prepares for Hurricane Irene to reach the five boroughs, most of the city’s agencies have shut down service…. – NYT, 8-27-11
    • Connecticut, Rhode Island join Hurricane Irene evacuation list: Though Hurricane Irene was still hundreds of miles south, residents of low-lying areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island were evacuated Saturday as officials warned of widespread flooding from the powerful storm that is expected to strike at high tide…. – LAT, 8-27-11

“Over one million people have left the Jersey shore in the past 24 hours. The best way to preserve human life on the Jersey shore is for there to be no human beings on the Jersey shore.” — Governor Chris Christie said at a news conference

    • One million flee Jersey shore as surfers hit waves: More than a million people fled resort towns along the New Jersey shore ahead of powerful Hurricane Irene, whose arrival on Saturday was just hours away.
      Mandatory evacuations covered all of the state’s barrier island beach resorts, including such well-known and popular spots as Atlantic City, Cape May and Long Beach Island.
      Irene was expected to hit the state with at least 75 miles per hour winds and 6 to 12 inches of rain starting on Saturday night…. – Reuters, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene churns its way north; 8 dead: Hurricane Irene, a ferocious and slow-moving storm, smashed into North Carolina on Saturday morning, then slowly swirled its way up the Eastern Seaboard, flooding low-lying areas, knocking out power to as many as 1 million customers…. – LAT, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Pictures: Storm Lashes US East Coast: Beachfront houses in North Carolina stand amid rising waves during the full force of Hurricane Irene, which made landfall Saturday morning as a Category 1 storm near Cape Lookout. The tempest brought winds of 85 miles (137 kilometers) an hour…. – National Geographic, 8-27-11
    • McDonnell urges residents to be cautious even though Irene has weakened: Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) urged residents not to let their guard down just because Hurricane Irene has weakened, saying it is still a serious storm that will likely cause major damage in the state. … – WaPo, 8-27-11
    • Tens of thousands lose power as hurricane batters Maryland: Hurricane Irene moved across Maryland overnight with high winds, heavy rains and dangerous tides. The storm cut power to tens of thousands of residents and turned the state’s biggest summer resort of Ocean … – Scremento Bee, 8-27-11
    • Irene makes landfall in N.C.; 4 deaths reported: Hurricane Irene made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina about 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday morning, losing some power but still whipping up sustained winds of 85 mph, as it continued its run up the Eastern Seaboard.
      The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the enormous Category 1 storm passed over Cape Lookout, with winds slipping a bit from 100 mph overnight, but warned Irene would remain a hurricane as it moves up the mid-Atlantic coast.
      At 2 p.m. ET Irene was about 45 miles west northwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and about 95 miles south of Norfolk, Va. The storm was moving north-northeastward at 15 mph…. – CBS News, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Path: Atlantic Beach & Cape Fear Take First Hit in North Carolina: Hurricane Irene has made landfall near Cape Fear as a Category 1 with winds at 85 miles per hour, down 15 miles per hour from the 11 p.m. ET advisory.
      “Incredibly strong gusts, pretty surprising to those of us who thought we were nearly done with Irene, after 18 hours,” said ABC News’ Steven Portnoy, reporting from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina…. – ABC News, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall; Moves North, Gathering Strength: By noon, about 438,000 residents were without power in North Carolina and Virginia, and winds and rain were picking up in the Washington, D.C. area, and in beaches stretching from Virginia to Delaware. Two deaths, both in North Carolina, have been blamed on the storm, CNN reports.
      The storm has delivered maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. And hurricane-force wind gusts and a damaging storm surge will continue for the next several hours, weather forecasters predict…. – PBS Newshour, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Now Category 1 but major impact still ahead: Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. But as it makes landfall in North Carolina and heads north, it’s still expected to pack a wallop with the greatest danger from flooding due to heavy rainfall and coastal storm surges…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Now Category 1 but major impact still ahead: Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. But as it makes landfall in North Carolina and heads north, it’s still expected to pack a wallop with the greatest danger from flooding due to heavy rainfall and coastal storm surges…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: After initial landfall, storm heads north: Hurricane Irene ‘remains a large and dangerous storm’ Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Saturday. She advises residents in its path to ‘hunker down.’… – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene churns up East Coast; Virginia boy, 11, is killed by fallen tree: The howling Hurricane Irene churned up the East Coast on Saturday afternoon, battering buildings, knocking out power lines and toppling trees. An 11-year-old Virginia boy was killed after a tree fell on his family’s apartment.
      Packing strong gusts and lashing rain, the brunt of the storm was expected to pass through the Washington area overnight and into Sunday morning. It reached land as a Category 1 hurricane, downgraded a notch from the greater force it gathered over the open Atlantic…. – WaPo, 8-27-11

“This is a storm where, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could be fatal.” — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference Saturday afternoon.

  • Hurricane Irene update: Storm claims its first lives: Hurricane Irene has caused a reported four deaths so far. Officials warn that storm surges and flooding could be greater because of the new moon arriving Sunday night…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
  • New York Subways Are Shut Down as Hurricane Irene Nears: New York became a city without one of its trademarks — the nation’s largest subway system — on Saturday as Hurricane Irene charged northward and the city prepared to face powerhouse winds that could drive a wall of water over the beaches in the Rockaways and between the skyscrapers in Lower Manhattan.
    The city worked to complete its evacuation of about 370,000 residents in low-lying areas where officials expected flooding to follow the storm, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said that more than a million people had been evacuated, mainly from four counties in the southern part of the state.
    Officials warned that a big problem could be flooding at high tide, around 8 a.m. Sunday morning — before the storm has moved on and the wind has slacked off in and around the city, assuming the storm more or less follows the path where forecasters expect it to follow…. – NYT, 8-27-11
  • New York shuts down ahead of Hurricane Irene: Times Square emptied out and evacuation shelters filled up as New York City shut down on Saturday ahead of Hurricane Irene, which charged up the East Coast on a direct path toward the world financial capital.
    New Yorkers deserted the streets and took cover from a rare hurricane headed their way — only five have tracked within 75 miles of the city since records have been kept. The full impact of heavy rain, powerful winds and a surging sea was expected through Sunday morning…. – Reuters, 8-27-11
  • Nearly 75 percent without power in central Virginia: Downed trees, dangling power lines, darkened street lights, damaging winds and a deluge defined Hurricane Irene’s brush with the Richmond area…. – Richmond Times Dispatch, 8-27-11
  • Hurricane Irene: Why hurricane hyperbole never goes out of style:
    Where should the media draw the line between reasonable warnings and fear-mongering? A few mistakes and a partially missed prognosis aren’t necessarily proof that the media blew the story.
    On one 24-hour news channel, a correspondent described the calm before hurricane Irene as the calm before a B-movie zombie attack. One anchor proclaimed the storm to be “as big as Europe.” Elsewhere, the hurricane was touted as the storm of a lifetime.
    Storm hype is of course nothing new, neither is saying overwrought things when trying to fill up hours of airtime.
    But as the hurricane approached, the fever pitch of the Irene coverage took on a life of its own, with government officials leading a chorus of caution even as closer watchers of the weather, especially on the ground in North Carolina, grew increasingly convinced that Irene would not strengthen, but steadily weaken instead into something closer to a massive tropical storm…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
  • Twitter and Facebook buzzing about Hurricane Irene: You could track Hurricane Irene’s path up the East Coast on Saturday by following comments on Facebook and Twitter from people in the eye of the storm to those still waiting for its arrival…. – USA Today, 8-27-11
  • Irene expected to hit Canada with heavy rain and winds: The path of hurricane Irene remained unchanged Saturday, meaning the massive storm would likely bring heavy rain and the potential for hurricane force wind gusts when it reached eastern Canada later in the weekend forecasters said.
    The Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax said the Category 1 hurricane was centred off North Carolina early Saturday and was expected to move up the eastern seaboard of the United States and through Long Island and into Maine late Sunday, before entering eastern Canada as a tropical storm.
    Bowyer said as a result the heaviest rains were expected in northwestern New Brunswick and in the eastern townships of Quebec into early Monday, while areas to the east of the storm’s centre would see the heaviest winds…. – Canadian Press, 8-27-11
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History Q&A: How Many Hurricanes Have Hit New England Before Hurricane Irene?

HISTORY Q&A:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY Q&A

HISTORY NEWS: NEW ENGLAND HURRICANES IN HISTORY

 

SUFFOLK COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY COURTESY PHOTO | The Main Street fish markets in Greenport after the 1938 hurricane.

HOW MANY HURRICANES IN HISTORY HAVE HIT THE NORTHEAST?

Hurricanes Bob in 1991, Gloria in 1985, and Donna in 1960 reached the Northeast. The 1938 storm called “The Long Island Express” or “The Great Hurricane of 1938” killed hundreds of people in New England.

    • Irene conjures memories of ‘great’ storm of 1938: It’s been nearly 73 years since the so-called Great New England Hurricane — one of the most powerful and destructive storms ever to hit southern New England. The storm now bearing down on the Northeast, Irene, has drawn comparisons to the one from way back then which, according to the National Weather Service, killed nearly 600 people and injured 1,700.
      About 8,900 houses across southern New England were destroyed. More than 15,000 others were damaged.
      It brought its wrath first to New York’s Long Island, then to Milford, Conn. It sped northward at 60 miles an hour. Tides were already higher than normal — as they are now with Irene headed this way.
      The Great Hurricane produced tides from New London, Conn., east to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod that were between 18 feet and 25 feet, the weather service says. Communities along the Narragansett Bay were devastated. Storm surges of 12 feet to 15 feet destroyed most of the homes along the coast there. A surge of nearly 20 feet left Providence drowning in water. Years later, the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier would be built to try to shield the capital city from repeat devastation…. – AP, 8-26-11

Photos: The Great Hurricane of 1938 — Fox Tampa Bay

Meteorologists stay course through storm of criticism: WCVB-TV (Ch. 5) chief meteorologist Harvey Leonard recalled the deadly hurricane of 1938 — the worst natural disaster ever to hit New England.
“Six hundred people died. Five-hundred died on the south coast of New England, primarily southern Rhode Island, without knowing what hit them.
You always have to remember, there’s a range of what can happen. We’re not God, but we have great tools to work with. We’re trying our best. You prepare for the worst. You hope for the best.” — Boston Herald, 8-26-11

    • Hurricane Irene: Ghosts (technically, video) of hurricanes past: Looking for something hurricane-ish to watch — but perhaps something that doesn’t suggest actual threat to loved ones? How about some video from the legendary Great Hurricane of 1938, aka the Long Island Express, aka The Yankee Clipper?
      That storm hit Long Island in September 1938 before making its way into Manhattan and then farther up the coast into Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Quebec.
      YouTube’s archives include two interesting compilations of footage from the time. The video above, uploaded by “moviemagg,” simply presents the facts in all their incredible glory — nail-biting images of houses being pushed off their foundations by waves, fishing boats being pounded against the shore, streets submerged by water…. – LAT, 8-26-11
    • New England hurricanes have been memorable: One of those, the infamous 1900 Great Galveston Hurricane, is No. 1 by far on the list of the nation’s deadliest hurricanes. With an unthinkable toll of 8,000 deaths, it will almost certainly hold on to first place for a long time. (Florida’s Lake Okeechobee storm of 1928 is a distant second, responsible for 2,500 deaths).
      As for Northeast hurricanes, the deadliest and most damaging was the so-called “Long Island Express” – the New England Hurricane of 1938 – a Category 3 storm that took more than 600 lives, including one in Nashua.
      The Great Atlantic Hurricane, a similar storm that hit New England in 1944, is lesser known, probably because lessons learned in 1938 led to much more warning and well-executed evacuations. More than 300 lives were lost, but most were at sea; just 46 deaths were recorded on land…. – Nashua Telegraph, 8-27-11
    • It was 1938, and few believed the fishermens’ warnings: Few believed the local fishermen who warned such yellow and red skies meant a major storm was on the way.
      There were no National Weather Service advisories or evacuation plans. It made landfall with little warning and with sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour, strong enough to be classified as a Category III storm today.
      The storm killed more than 600 people, injured more than 700 others and caused $308 million in property damage (an estimated $6 billion today), destroying and damaging thousands of homes.
      It will 73 years ago next month when the epic hurricane that would later come to be known as the New England Hurricane of 1938 — aka the Long Island Express because of its unusual speed — blew through eastern Long Island and New England, leaving death and devastation in its wake.
      Like some are predicting for Hurricane Irene, the massive eye of the storm — 50 miles wide — passed right over Long Island…. – Suffolk Times, 8-26-11

“The ’38 hurricane was the fastest hurricane ever measured.” — Dave Samuel, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania

    • Irene Evokes Great Hurricane of 1938 That Left 500 Dead in U.S. Northeast: The projected path of Hurricane Irene evokes a 1938 storm that left more than 500 dead after crossing Long Island, destroying the village of Montauk and battering Connecticut and Rhode Island.
      The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 was one of the most destructive and powerful ever to strike the region, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It made landfall in Milford, Connecticut, about 75 miles north of New York City, on Sept. 21, producing peak gusts of 186 miles per hour and tides as high as 25 feet on Cape Cod, the federal agency said on its website.
      Hurricane Irene, the strongest Atlantic storm to threaten the U.S. since 2005, is forecast to pass near North Carolina this weekend and slam into New England next week. Hurricane watches are in force for the North Carolina coast as 115 miles- per-hour (185 kilometers per hour) winds rip through the Bahamas, damaging homes, felling trees and triggering flooding, according to the country’s Emergency Management Agency…. – Bloomberg, 8-25-11

“It was something devastating—and unreal—like the beginning of the world—or the end of it—and I slogged or sloshed, crawled through ditches and hung on to keep going somehow—got drenched and bruised and scratched— completely bedraggled—finally got to where there was a working phone and called Dad. The minute he heard my voice he said, ‘how’s your mother?’—And I said—I mean I shouted—the storm was screaming so—’She’s all right. All right, Dad! But listen, the house—it’s gone—blown away into the sea!’ And he said, ‘I don’t suppose you had the brains enough to through a match into it before it went, did you? It’s insured against fire, but not against blowing away!—and how are you?'” — Katharine Hepburn on beach house in Old Saybrook, Connecticut

    • The Great New England Hurricane of 1938: A storm formed in the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 4, 1938, and headed west. After 12 days, before it could reach the Bahamas, it turned northward, skimming the East Coast of the United States and picking up energy from the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. On September 21, it crashed into Long Island and continued its way north at a speed of 60 miles per hour, with the eye of the storm passing over New Haven, Connecticut. It didn’t dissipate until it reached Canada.
      The winds were strong enough that modern scientists place the storm in Category 3 of the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The Blue Hill Observatory outside Boston measured sustained winds of 121 miles per hour and gusts as strong as 186 miles per hour. The winds blew down power lines, trees and crops and blew roofs off houses. Some downed power lines set off fires in Connecticut.
      But it was the storm surge that caused the most damage. The storm came ashore at the time of the high tide, which added to the surge of water being pushed ahead by the hurricane. The water rose 14 to 18 feet along much of the Connecticut coast, and 18 to 25 feet from New London, Connecticut to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Seaside homes all along Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island were submerged under 12 to 15 feet of water, and Providence, Rhode Island was inundated with 20 feet. Whole communities were swept out to sea…. – Smithsonian Blog, 8-25-11
    • The Great Hurricane of 1938: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the hurricane began near Africa during the second week of September in 1938, travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and up the east coast, made land fall in Long Island, New York, on Sept. 21. It terminated in southern Canada a day later.
      The hurricane moved at a brisk 60 to 70 mph, allowing it to travel from North Carolina to Long Island within an afternoon. Upon reaching landfall in New York, wind speeds were recorded at 121 mph and the water level rose a reported 10 to 12 feet. The Boston Weather Service Forecast Office reports that the Connecticut River reached a depth of 35.4 feet – 19.4 feet above its flood stage.
      The storm is said to have killed 564 people, according to NOAA. It injured more than 1,700, and caused $308 million in damage to the New England area – about $4.6 billion in 2009 dollars.
      Unconfirmed reports about the hurricane describe 20 foot storm surges, 190 mph gusts of wind, and six inches of rain falling in some parts of Massachusetts.
      Damage to houses and marinas was extensive. In all, about 8,900 homes were destroyed and 2,600 boats were sunk…. – Patch, 8-26-11
    • EARTH MATTERS: Robert Miller Dr. Mel says Irene may be our hurricane: It was 1954. Carol, one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit New England, damaged more than 10,000 buildings.
      It caused $50 million in property losses in Connecticut and $3 million in crop damage; New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties were declared disaster areas.
      After the famed — or infamous — Hurricane of 1938, Carol might have been the single worst hurricane to hit New England. A year later, the one-two punch of Connie and Diane caused the Flood of 1955. The giant, water-laden tropical storms hit the state five days apart and caused the worst natural disaster in Connecticut history…. – Danbury News Times

Photos from the Hurricane of 1938 gallery (24 photos) — MassLive

    • Survivors of Great New England Hurricane of 1938 share memories: Now as people have eyes to Doppler radar or ears to weather radio waiting for the arrival of Irene, they remembered the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 – a storm that Irene has been compared to by some…. – MassLive.com, 8-26-11
    • Hype or Hurricane?: Seventy-three years ago the Great Hurricane of 1938 (GH38) ripped through New England killing 700 people in four hours. The East Coast is now bracing for a storm that may be of equal magnitude. Yet newscasters keep talking about how “unprecedented” Hurricane Irene is… Huffington Post, 8-26-11
    • Cary Mock: Irene may be big, if not fiercest Northeast storm: Hurricane Irene’s sheer size will create a huge impact, even if it falls short of being an epic Northeast coast storm for the history books, a geographer and hurricane historian said on Friday.
      “It’s probably not going to be one of those where it’s the worst of the century,” Cary Mock, an associate geography professor at the University of South Carolina.
      “The storm surge is dependent not just on the winds but on the size.”
      “In New York and New England, just looking at the last 50 or 100 years is actually too small of a snapshot for a worst case scenario for hurricanes,” Mock said.
      “They actually called them gales,” he said, “or sometimes September gales because they noticed they happened in September.”
      In 1821, a major hurricane passed directly over New York City, “probably a strong category 4,” Mock said. Historical records show it caused a 10-foot storm surge at low tide, Mock said. “At that time, not that many people were living in New York, so people didn’t pay a lot of attention to it.”
      But William Redfield, the “father of hurricane science,” observed the 1821 storm, Mock said.
      Just as a debate goes on today over whether global warming causes more frequent or more intense hurricanes, the mid-19th century debate was over “the law of storms,” Mock said…. – Reuters, 8-26-11

Hurricane History

  • 1635 – The Great Colonial Hurricane struck Narragansett Bay on Aug. 25 as a possible Category 4 or 5. Details are sketchy, but the death toll is estimated near 50.
  • 1683 – A unnamed tropical cyclone hit Connecticut and caused tremendous flooding on Aug. 23.
  • 1693 – Another tropical cyclone struck New England in late October, causing flooding so great that new permanent inlets were created.
  • 1769 – A hurricane that earlier caused great damage in Annapolis, Md., blew boats ashore in Boston, Providence, R.I., and Newport, R.I., on Sept. 8. Many houses were blown down and destroyed.
  • 1778 – A late-season hurricane struck Cape Cod on Nov. 1, killing 50-70 people, 23 of them aboard the HMS Somerset III, a British ship that ran aground on the cape.
  • 1782 – A rare “snow hurricane” battered New England on Oct. 18-19. It caused widespread damage, but unknown deaths.
  • 1804 – Another, more severe snow hurricane on Oct. 9 dumped 2-3 feet of snow across the Northeast; causing nine deaths across New England.
  • 1815 – The Great September Gale of 1815 struck New England as a major hurricane on Sept. 23-24. A huge storm surge funneled up Narragansett Bay, destroying some 500 houses and 35 ships and inundating Providence. At least 38 deaths were reported across New England.
  • 1841 – The October Gale of 1841 dumped several feet of snow and sleet, wrecked the Georges Bank fishing fleet, drowned 81 fishermen, knocked down trees and destroyed homes, boats and the Cape Cod saltworks factory.
  • 1904 – A September Category 1 storm brought significant marine destruction and heavy losses across Massachusetts Bay, Cape Cod and the islands.
  • 1924 – A powerful Category 2-3 storm lashed the Massachusetts south coast, Cape Cod and the islands, and then New Hampshire and Maine. It’s considered in many places worse than the 1938 hurricane.
  • 1927 – Torrential rains from a tropical storm caused record flooding across New England. Nearly 100 were killed, mostly in Vermont.
  • 1936 – Heavy wind damage across most of the region was caused by a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 18.
  • 1938 – The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 struck as a strong Category 3 on Sept. 21. Wind gusts reached Category 5 strength in some areas. The anemometer at the Blue Hill Observatory registered a peak wind gust of 186 mph before the instrument broke. Significant damage was caused in the Nashua area, and one death was recorded. It killed more than 600 people overall. It’s considered worst New England storm of the modern era.
  • 1944 – The Great Atlantic Hurricane landed as a Category 3 in southern New England on Sept. 15. There was severe wind damage in many areas, especially southeastern Massachusetts. The death toll was roughly 300; Archibald Dunlap was Nashua’s only fatality.
  • 1950 – A major, intense, offshore hurricane labeled Hurricane Dog battered New England, especially southeastern Massachusetts. It was the largest of all Atlantic hurricanes to date, with sustained winds of 75 mph and gusts to 100 for extended periods. The death toll is unknown.
  • 1954 – Hurricane Carol struck all of New England on Aug. 31 as a Category 3 with Category 4 conditions along the southern coast. It caused widespread, extreme damage. Sixty were killed; no deaths were reported in Nashua.
  • 1954 – Hurricane Edna hit the region two weeks after Carol, and also was a Category 3 upon landfall. Severe losses were recorded in Cape Cod and the islands and along coastal Maine. It wasn’t as damaging as Carol in the Nashua area.
  • 1960 – Hurricane Donna became the fifth major storm to hit New England in 22 years. It struck Sept. 12-13 as a Category 2-3 storm. High gusts were recorded across the region, with the worst damage in southern New England. The Nashua region suffered moderate damage.
  • 1962 – Hurricane Daisy produced hurricane conditions in coastal areas and well into Maine in October; Mount Desert Island was affected significantly.
  • 1963 – Hurricane Ginny followed almost the same path as Daisy.
  • 1979 – Hurricane David, originally a Category 5 in the Bahamas, was a strong tropical storm when it reached New England in September. It spawned several tornadoes; some damage, but no deaths were reported in the Nashua region.
  • 1985 – Hurricane Gloria became the first significant hurricane to hit inland New England since 1960. Widespread wind damage was caused in the entire region, especially the coast. Winds gusted over 100 mph in many areas. No local deaths were reported.
  • 1991 – Hurricane Bob landed as a Category 2 in New England with wind gusts well into Category 3, one of the smallest yet most intense hurricanes to hit New England since 1938. It caused widespread damage and frequent destruction, especially in coastal areas. There was significant flooding, including tidal surges. No severe damage or deaths were reported in the Nashua area.
  • 1991 – Hurricane Grace became the subject of the movie “The Perfect Storm” when she was labeled such by meteorologists after combining in late October with an offshore mid-latitude cyclone.
  • 1996 – Hurricane Edouard brought offshore hurricane-force wind gusts from Buzzards Bay east across the Cape and islands. Considerable losses were incurred on the Massachusetts islands; Oak Bluffs and Martha’s Vineyard were particularly hard-hit.
  • 1999 – Tropical Storm Floyd caused large power outages and flood damage across the region. Flooding, mudslides, and downed trees and power lines closed several major highways and countless local roads for days.
  • 2010 – Hurricane Earl largely fizzled in early September; it passed about 90 miles offshore, bringing only heavy rain, large waves and tropical-storm-force gusts to Cape Cod.
  • 2011 – Hurricane Irene?…  – – Nashua Telegraph, 8-27-11

Full Text August 26, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Urges Americans 9/11’s 10th Anniversary with National Service

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 8/18/11

QUOTES

Weekly Address: Coming Together to Remember

Source: WH, 8-27-11

President Obama pays tribute to the first responders, those who have served, and those who lost their lives ten years ago in the September 11th attacks. Visit Serve.gov for ways to commemorate the solemn anniversary in your community.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Observing 9/11 with National Service

In this week’s address, President Obama called on the American people to come together in the spirit of service and remembrance as we approach the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  All Americans can pay tribute to those who lost their lives during 9/11 by visiting Serve.Gov to find ways to help within their own communities.  Through even the smallest of actions, we can reclaim the sense of unity that followed the attacks, and demonstrate that our sense of common purpose is just as strong today as it was ten years ago.  Americans can once again come together to mark this solemn anniversary with service, and move towards a bright future as one nation.

Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address Saturday, August 27, 2011

In just two weeks, we’ll come together, as a nation, to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  We’ll remember the innocent lives we lost.  We’ll stand with the families who loved them.  We’ll honor the heroic first responders who rushed to the scene and saved so many.  And we’ll pay tribute to our troops and military families, and all those who have served over the past ten years, to keep us safe and strong.

We’ll also recall how the worst terrorist attack in American history brought out the best in the American people.  How Americans lined up to give blood.  How volunteers drove across the country to lend a hand.  How schoolchildren donated their savings.  How communities, faith groups and businesses collected food and clothing.

We were united, and the outpouring of generosity and compassion reminded us that in times of challenge, we Americans move forward together, as one people.

This September 11th, Michelle and I will join the commemorations at Ground Zero, in Shanksville, and at the Pentagon.  But even if you can’t be in New York, Pennsylvania or Virginia, every American can be part of this anniversary.  Once again, 9/11 will be a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  And in the days and weeks ahead, folks across the country—in all 50 states—will come together, in their communities and neighborhoods, to honor the victims of 9/11 and to reaffirm the strength of our nation with acts of service and charity.

In Minneapolis, volunteers will help restore a community center.  In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, they’ll hammer shingles and lay floors to give families a new home.  In Tallahassee, Florida, they’ll assemble care packages for our troops overseas and their families here at home.  In Orange County, California, they’ll renovate homes for our veterans.  And once again, Michelle and I look forward to joining a local service project as well.

There are so many ways to get involved, and every American can do something.  To learn more about the opportunities where you live, just go online and visit Serve.gov.  Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost; a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.

On this 10th anniversary, we still face great challenges as a nation.  We’re emerging from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.  We’re taking the fight to al Qaeda, ending the war in Iraq and starting to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.  And we’re working to rebuild the foundation of our national strength here at home.

None of this will be easy.  And it can’t be the work of government alone.  As we saw after 9/11, the strength of America has always been the character and compassion of our people.  So as we mark this solemn anniversary, let’s summon that spirit once more.  And let’s show that the sense of common purpose that we need in America doesn’t have to be a fleeting moment; it can be a lasting virtue—not just on one day, but every day.

 

White House Recap August 20-26, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — Vice President Biden’s Asia Trip — President Obama’s Statements on Libya & Hurricane Irene

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: AUGUST 20-26, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Time to Prepare

Source: WH, 8-26-11

Vice President Joe Biden Signs a Flag for a Group of Sailors at Yokota AFB

Vice President Joe Biden signs a flag for a group of sailors after speaking to troops at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

A quick look at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:

#VPinAsia: The Vice President spent the last week traveling through Asia and meeting with leaders in the region. He delivered a major speech in China, met with the Prime Minister of Mongolia, and paid tribute to the enduring spirit of the Japanese tsunami survivors.

Hurricane Irene: The President has urged Americans to take this storm seriously. With the hurricane poised to reach the east coast this weekend, it is important to take steps ensuring your preparedness. We’ve compiled a list of helpful resources in case you are in the projected path of the hurricane.

Libya:  Following a call with the National Security Council, President Obama spoke about the evolving situation in Libya. President Obama said, “The Qaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people,” making it clear that the courage of the Libyan people has brought freedom within reach.

Regulatory Reform: In January of this year, the President emphasized that our regulatory system “must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.” With this point in mind, he ordered an unprecedentedly ambitious government-wide review of existing federal regulations. He directed agencies and departments to produce plans to eliminate red tape and to streamline current requirements. The agencies have released their final regulatory reform plans, including hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system, and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency.

MLK Memorial: Though Hurricane Irene has postponed the official opening ceremony, Maya Angelou has released her poem, written to commemorate the true historic nature of this memorial.

Presidential Galleries: Visitors to the White House love to look at the archival photos that are featured in the halls of the East Wing. There’s a gallery of the Presidential pets, family life in the White House, Presidential vacations, and some of the Presidency’s most historic moments.

 

President Barack Obama holds a conference call on Hurricane Irene
President Barack Obama holds a conference call on Hurricane Irene, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/26/11

 

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