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PHOTOS: Hurricane Carol

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Hurricane Carol

August 31st, 1954

The Great New England Hurricane of 1938, along with Hurricane Carol in 1954, prompted Providence to build the Hurricane Barrier at Fox Point.

Hurricane%20Barrier.jpeg

The need for the Hurricane Barrier is made clear from the photos in this thread. I got these images from a special Providence Journal supplement printed shortly after the Hurricane. The booklet is almost 50 years old, so the quality of some of these scans is less than optimal, but I hope you enjoy them.

Carol.jpg

Kennedy Plaza (then Exchange Place) near the height of the storm's flooding. The Biltmore Hotel is the large building in the centre, Providence's City Hall is the building to the left.

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This is a view down Westminster Street towards the Turks Head Building from the foot of College Hill. In 1938 this area was called Market Square and the river was normally safely below ground. Today the rivers have been uncovered and the river normally runs through here.

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This is what is today known as the Old Hospital Trust Building. This shows water being pumped out of the building's basement. There is a car in this picture, that should give an idea of how high the water is.

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Washington Street beside the Biltmore photographed from City Hall. Yes, those are car roofs.

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Exchange Place (Kennedy Plaza) from the City Hall steps.

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Lower Fountain Street and the Bus Station (now a parking lot) photographed from The Providence Journal Building.

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Boaters in Exchange Place (Kennedy Plaza).

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Workers stranded on the steps of City Hall.

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The Providence Journal Building surrounded by flood waters.

Carol012.jpg

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Nice pics I have been though a couple of hurricane's and let me tell u there not fun and the tornados are nothin to play with either.

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Thanks for the great pictures. With rising sea levels, these storm dams will probably become more common over the next century.

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Nice pics. It looks like the hurricane was pretty devastating to Providence.

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Wow that was very destructive. The merrimack river flooded at one time in Manchester. I heard that that was a devestating

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We get many more numerous destructive winter storms than we do hurricanes. Hurricane Carol hit in 1954 and the other massively destrcutive hurricane to hit Rhode Island was in 1938, not too frequent.

There tends to be trends in Hurricanes. We will get 2 or 3 seasons in a row where storms come up the east coast and hit us, then perhaps decade where we don't see much. When I was growing up on Cape Cod, we had Gloria in 1986 and Bob in 1991 (which was one of the most expensive in US history). Bob was pretty bad, but we've had winter storms that have equaled or bettered it.

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New England can get severe damage from hurricanes, but conditions have to be pretty special for that to happen. At that lattitude the storms are usually moving at a pretty good clip, so the damage tends to be minimized.

Nice pictures, but there doesn't appear to be any wind damage. Was this a rain/flood event or was it the result of heavy winds driving the waters into downtown? Maybe they just built stuff sturdier back then. I don't know alot about this storm.

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I only scanned the city photos. In areas outside the city, especially South County closer to the ocean there was much more wind and surge related damage. The flooding in these photos was caused by storm surge which was amplified by the shape of Narragansett Bay.

RI%20Visitor%20Map.gif

As you can see from this map, the south coast of New England faces, well south. Most of the rest of the east coast faces east. When a storm (hurricane or other) comes up the coast, southern New England sticks out into the water and gets in it's way. So the storm surge hits us head on, instead of from the side. Narragansett Bay takes the energy from the surge and intensifies it magnifying the impact. The surge at the head of the bay (where Providence is) can be much higher than the surge at the immediate coast. You can also see Buzzards Bay on this map which creates similar surges.

During Hurricane Bob in 1991 the most damage from surge was found in Buzzards Bay and at the head of the Bay. We can often see Hurricane like storm surges during winter storms. The Blizzard of '78 for instance had a very large storm surge.

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