In 1954, "New" West Islanders Were the First to Experience a Major Hurricane
By M.L.Baron westislandweather.com
WEST ISLAND: With the hurricanes of 1938 and 1944 still fresh in local minds, new West Island residents who began to build summer cottages in the late 40's on the mostly uninhabited island had nobody to tell them what the previous hurricanes were like out here. In fact, most of those who bought cottages through developers of Fairhaven Estates in 1952, were from out-of-town inland areas. So they were already oblivious as to what hurricanes could do to coastal property in the first place.
On Tuesday, August 31, 1954, they found out.
The island never had this number of structures before that had endured prior hurricanes. In the first 2 years much of the planned 150 summer cottages were already cluttered side by side up along the much sought after waterfront lots of Alder and Balsam Streets. (on the west facing side of the island.) Most of this area is about 3 feet above sea level.
Carol, the first named hurricane to impact the northeast arrived Tuesday, August 31, 1954. The Category 2 hurricane brought in tidal surges over 10 feet accompanied by 110 mph winds. Just 10 days later Hurricane Edna struck on September 11th. Edna caused some chaos to an already dazed SouthCoast. However the worst damage was more localized to Cape Cod.
Some island residents decided to sell their property after the hurricanes and there were few takers. The asking price ranged from $300 to $500.00 for a vacant lot where their little summer paradise once stood. Some cottages that were dragged off their foundations that remained mostly intact were salvaged and remain standing on their original lots today.
A collection of areal photos match up with some ground photos. This album always under construction. These never before seen photos are being sorted and identified for this exciting new album! Do you have island photos you'd like to share? Simply hit the blue contact button on the left and let us know., or share a hurricane story from the island. For more on Fairhaven Estates see menu sidebar to the left. Photos from The MLBaron Historic Archives