Blount Fine Foods
Sep29

#TBT: The Great New England Hurricane

The end of one industry lead to the birth of another

The hurricane of 1938 dealt a knockout blow to New England businesses already reeling from the Great Depression. No one had seen it coming. Storms tracking north usually veered out to sea, but this one was different.

In the afternoon of September 21, 1938 (coincidently, that was 78 years ago last week), the hurricane cut directly across Long Island and slammed into Rhode Island as a category III storm, its forty-foot wall of water toppling lighthouses and obliterating coastal villages.

 

(Rhode Island Historical Society)

The storm struck at high tide, and as the surge came in, Narragansett Bay rose some sixteen feet, the storm scour destroying nearly all of the state’s oyster beds. Hundreds of Rhode Islanders lost their lives.

For H.J. Lewis, the Connecticut firm that owned the Narragansett Oyster Company, it was the end.  For Nelson Blount, seeing the opportunity to purchase the plant at a bargain price as a chance to start a business and create jobs for families, it was the beginning.