Cherie Burns is the author of The Great Hurricane: 1938.
From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: What's the biggest difference between the 1938 hurricane and Hurricane Sandy?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I was marveling over how everything has been forecast about Sandy over the last five days. The reason the hurricane of 1938 was so devastating was that it took people completely by surprise.
People certainly knew about hurricanes and understood them. New Englanders told each other, parents told their children, that hurricanes didn't come to New England. And the weather bureau didn't forecast it correctly.
It took everyone completely by surprise, even on the day it came ashore. People were having picnics on the beach, since New Englanders thought it was fun to go down there and look at these storms.
There was this incredible sense of deception. It lurked offshore, they couldn't see it, and suddenly it went up Narragansett Bay.
Q: What about people warning others when it finally hit?
A: The storm knocked out the communications, so people couldn't call ahead and say, "Watch out, it's coming your way." It's almost unbelievable to us today when we have the Weather Channel and satellites.
Q: Were there any people who actually saw it coming?
When the storm did...[read on]