1938 still the worst

We understand part of the job of a congressman is to try to make the best case for his district, particularly when it comes to getting federal funds, but we have to beg to differ with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney's statement that Connecticut "saw flooding and physical destruction (from Sandy) that actually exceeded the hurricane from 1938."

Rep. Courtney made the comment during a Senate committee hearing into the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The Second District congressman is seeking higher federal disaster reimbursement rates than the standard 75 percent, both because of the severity of the storm and because of the repeated natural disasters eastern Connecticut has faced in the past couple of years. And for that we applaud him.

But for Connecticut, at least, any suggestion that Sandy was more severe than the 1938 Hurricane is a bit of hyperbole. Perhaps Rep. Courtney refers to those pockets of physical destruction that did exceed the storm of 1938. And we do not mean to minimize the damage and hardship people did suffer. Along the New Jersey shore the images are similar to the black and white photos of the Long Island and southern New England shorelines after the 1938 storm. In Rhode Island, Misquamicut experienced severe damage from Sandy.

But for Connecticut as a whole, there is no comparison between the two storms. The 1938 Hurricane destroyed New London's waterfront, and much of Bank Street burned down. Cottages all along the Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts coast lines were reduced to kindling. The 39 houses on Napatree Point on the Rhode Island/Connecticut border were not simply damaged, they disappeared. The storm was so powerful it created 12 new inlets on Long Island. Flooding and massive tree falls spread well inland.

Sandy was an awful storm for Connecticut, a historic disaster for New Jersey and New York City. But in terms of the "Big One" hitting Connecticut again, we are talking a 1938-level storm, not Sandy. Here's hoping we don't see that for a very long time.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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