Saltaire History

The Great 1938 Hurricane

in contemporary pictures and accounts



Ferries in debris in Saltaire harbor
The SEAHORSE, a converted 'battleship tender'
belonging to a Mike Cofffee where the refugees waited out the storm

Seventy huddled on two small boats watch storm Saltaire.... It was a crazy maddening scene, like something out of the hysterical stretches of a nightmare -- seventy men, women and children huddled in two small boats in Saltaire Harbor, and outside a hurricane was tearing the island apart.   -- New York World Telegram, Sept. 22, 1938


  Debris in Bay  

Debris in Bay

Dock, dockhouse and boats on horizon.

After about three hours on the crowded quarters of the Eladio ... it was decided the waters had subsided. The ocean was no longer coming overt the island and it would be safe to head for the Village Hall. The wind was still blowing furiously, but one by one they conducted off the dock. The dock was covered with debris. The bay was solid with houses and debris. We could have walked ashore on rooftops. -- Hopkins Family History by Marjorie Hopkins.


Village Hall
Village Hall (completed by Mike Coffey in 1938)
We managed to reach the Village Hall and it was decided that those with children should occupy the upstairs. Downstairs had been flooded with a couple of feet of water. It was getting late and we had nothing to eat. The Lange's store was still intact, so I made a trip to the store, being careful not to trip over the debris that was everywhere. -- Hopkins Family History by Marjorie Hopkins.


View from the dock
View from the dock
I simply cannot go into detail as to how it all looks, but can only say that it is very much worse than we ever dreamed of --- we were speechless. No words, pictures or anything can make a person understand the condition of a hurricane destroyed and water destroyed town -- unless one can see it with their own eyes. -- Excerpt from Louise Wiedhoff letter, dated Sept. 27, 1938


Broadway and Harbor Promeade
Broadway and Harbor Promenade.

The house in the center is 112 Broadway.  
Across the street is 204 Broadway which floated down Broadway,
turned around and landed next to St. Andrew's.

Daddy and I decided we would try to reach our cottage and get some dry clothes if we could. We started up Broadway, passed the church which was standing, by the Andrew house (112 Broadway) to the Clay house (201 Broadway). We reached this by way of housetops, dining table tops, and finally our back door.... From our house we looked out at an absolutely flat expanse of land, generously dotted with toilet bowls, bath tubs, too heavy to be pushed any further. Across and around us were remains of houses. It was a sad sight. Our house was the first one left standing a quarter mile from the ocean. -- Hopkins Family History by Marjorie Hopkins.







Copyright © 2008 by Frank Markus
Text copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Starkey
Last revised: 09/15/2008