How did the worst hurricane in New England’s history create jobs?
Posted first by the Vermont Historical Society at vermonthistoryexplorer.org
On September 21st, 1938, a hurricane hit New England. Many New Englanders were not ready for the disaster. Records show that there were only two other hurricanes in New England. The first was in 1635 and the second in 1815. There were many other hurricanes in New England before that. But we don’t have records of storms pre-European contact. The 1938 hurricane caused damage in Vermont and every other New England state.
The hurricane brought heavy rain to Vermont and other New England states. Vermont was lucky compared to other states. The hurricane mostly affected the lower part of Vermont. But the hurricane also caused flooding throughout the state. A lot of roads were washed out during the hurricane. Trees were ripped out from their roots. Many Vermonters were forced to evacuate their homes until the storm passed.
In the 1930s, the world went through the Great Depression. Many people lost their jobs. There was not enough food to feed everyone. The US government needed a plan to help Americans. The US government created the WPA in 1935. The WPA helped with many projects across America. It worked closely with state governments to figure out projects. The WPA was different from other Great Depression projects. It employed both men and women. The WPA fixed highways, streets, and bridges. After the hurricane, there was a lot of work to do. The storm damaged many roads throughout the state. The WPA helped fix Vermont’s roads and cleared timber from forests.
The 1938 hurricane was a disaster that hurt many New Englanders. Over 600 people died across 7 states. The storm destroyed many homes and businesses in Vermont. The WPA helped with the recovery after the disaster. Many Vermonters worked in the WPA after they lost their jobs. Without the WPA, Vermont’s recovery would have taken much longer. Eventually, the WPA and other Great Depression work projects were shut down. But today, we can still see the effect these projects had on Vermont.