Tuesday, October 19, 2021

5,000 people died in a 1903 hurricane

June 6, 1906—Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida blew through North America in the early morning hours of June 6, 1906, breaking bonds as far as the seas were concerned. Everything was blown out, roofs blown, trees uprooted, streets blocked off. Many streets throughout the New York, Philadelphia, and Boston areas were deserted, and Indians from the surrounding hills were calling for help. One casualty from the storm was the USS Quincy, the fifth sloop built by Philadelphia Shipbuilders. There are three other surviving US sloops, but none designed to withstand the winds of Ida.

The Washington Post today explains,

“The hurricane was especially vicious on the coasts. Con Edison, in 1878, had built a 250,000-volt (slightly greater current) black power plant in Falmouth, Maine. When it was brought down in the storm, power was out throughout the territory and the result was total blackout. The boiling water killed the relatively few thousand people who lost power and other electrocutions were reported along the coast at least until relief arrived a week later.”

It is estimated that 115 people died, almost all of them Indians and beach dwellers, and of the 544 boats of the fleet, three are still floating. Many are thought to have sunk, and many more went down out of sight.

It is well noted that the Boston Globe Daily, in its 1915 issue, documented the deaths of 66 Indians from the storm:

“The hurricane of 1876 which raged through the Yarmouth Coast, seriously injuring one man, caused great trouble in the Yarmouth District of New Bedford and further to the south through the Shawnee Reservation in Northwestern Massachusetts. It ruined all of the auxiliary and ordinary ships, and thus contributed not only to the death of the thirty Indians and the many unimportant farmers, but also to the termination of the fishing life. There were some survivors of the storm on the Yarmouth Coast. The most visible one was Eider Burt, who had been worked into the scrub, by winds and spray up to a mighty force, and who is remembered by his mother still as being no more than two or three feet tall. Another on the Yarmouth Coast who perished in the storm was Archibald-Bo Beckford, a 14-year-old boy who suffered from a slight paralytic paralysis. Among the other casualties were an indeterminate number of young men and women in burlap sack clothing who retreated into the innards of the surf. None of these was found until the storm was over, and after the ships had been blown away the drowning rain fell in rain and the millions of flies were afflicting the corpses.”

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