WESTHAMPTON BEACH - Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the Great Hurricane of 1938, and News 12 Long Island senior correspondent Drew Scott tracked down survivors of the storm to share their stories.
The Category 3 then unnamed storm claimed nearly 800 lives across Long Island and New England. Sustained winds were at 121 miles an hour and tides were 17 feet above typical high tide. The hurricane’s damage would be valued at $5 billion today.
Beecher Halsey, 91, was a school child in Westhampton during the storm.
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“You could see the windows buckling,” he says. “The teacher told us to go to the gym immediately, let us out and we all made a dash for the door. I was the last one out."
Shirley Eckart’s family has run a Westhampton luncheonette for 101 years. Eckart, who was 12 in 1938, says there was no warning and no evacuations. She also says there’s no comparison to more recent hurricanes Sandy and Gloria.
“It was 10 times worse,” she says.