Marcia Drumwright’s account of Hurricane Carol
Posted on January 23, 2009 by Jenny ONeill
My family had a summer home at the very end of Brayton Point. 329 Brayton Point Road. We call it the last house in Massachusetts because there is nothing but ocean in front of us and Rhode Island line is to the left of the house. The house had no heat, no TV, and no phone. My father only came on weekends and had the only car.
At this cottage, we always spent most of our indoor time out on theglassed-in porch which faced the ocean. We ate all our meals out there, played cards and Monopoly. The adults spent hours in the rocking chairs looking out at the ocean. The yard was surrounded by a white picket fence. On the side facing the ocean we had a gate and stairs down a 20 foot cliff to the rocks and beach. We had a barbecue grill at the foot of the stairs. This was our little piece of heaven and I love that place even today. What a blessing to have those childhood memories!
On the morning Hurricane Carol hit, I awakened to the sounds of a storm. I was 5 years old. I walked downstairs to find pots all over the livingroom floor collecting water. My Mother says she had pots catching water upstairs in our one bedroom as well but I didn’t see them because I slept in the bed nearest the stairs. As I walked downstairs I noticed things sounded differently inside the house because the door to the glassed-in porch was closed which was unusual. I could see, and hear glass breaking as one by one the windows on the porch blew in. I could also see waves breaking over the TOP of the 20 foot cliff in our front year. The picket fence was gone….and why were the waves breaking so close to the house??? Half of the front yard was GONE. We discovered after the storm that the waves washed away our big yard to within three feet of the western corner of the house.
My mother was alone downstairs when I came down. The electricity was out. She put my sisters and I in her bed in the downstairs bedroom and gave us lollipops. Not understanding the danger we were in, I thought this was really fun. My Mother says she was trying to warm food for us on a small gas stove.
There were people in the two houses next to us. The Robucks lived in the little cottage that now belongs to George Wyatt. The Neves Family lived in the third house on Brayton Point that now belongs to the Sullivan Family. The Neves’s house was lower elevation than ours and actually flooded. They told us after the storm that they were eating breakfast when the water started coming into the house so they evacuated. My Mother watched both families get into their cars and wave goodbye to her and drive away. “They knew I was there with three little girls and no car,” she says, “and they just waved and drove away.” I was too little to understand, but now, I can only imagine how she felt. How frightened she must have been!
My father was working in Taunton that day. He turned on the car radio to hear that the South Coast was being evacuated. So that was the end of his work that day and he headed to Westport to rescue his family. He came into Adamsville only to discover Harbor Road was flooded. So he came through Little Compton and Mullin Hill Road onto the top of Old Harbor Road, then down Howland Road to Brayton Point Road. By the time he got to the Point, the wind was so fierce that he could no longer see to drive so he parked on the north (somewhat sheltered) side of the house behind ours which belonged to the Warburtons (now Kinnane) who were not home. There was a little gate in the picket fence between our yards that my father could walk through. He was our Knight in Shining Armor when he arrived. My mother put a bathing cap on my older sister and wrapped her in a blanket or something. My father carried her out to the car and then came back for me. I was bundled up the same way and remember my father carrying me in the rain and wind. My sister and I were alone in the car for probably just a few minutes but it seemed like a long time. The wind kept lifting the car up and then dropping it. My sister climbed into the front seat of the car and pushed the break pedal (or at least what she THOUGHT was the brake pedal…who knows) just as the wind slowed and the car dropped back to the ground. So my sister thought that was how to fix the problem and continued to push the pedal whenever the wind would pick the car up again. Then my parents finally arrived with my baby sister and the dog and we were all together in the car. My Dad slowly drove back up Brayton Point Road and took the same route he had taken coming in. I remember him stopping the car and moving trees off the roads a few times so we could get through.
That’s all I remember for the day Hurricane Carol hit Westport. I DO remember going back to the cottage a few days later to see the damage at the house and in the Harbor. We had lost a large portion of the front yard as I said before. The picket fence was gone on the water side and blown over everywhere else. I remember it being propped up. A drive down Atlantic Avenue in the Harbor revealed pipes bent away from the ocean and fireplaces where houses had been the day before the storm all along the beach side of the road. That is the sandy strip between the last house you see now on the right and Elephant Rock Beach Club. The only house rebuilt in the area during my childhood was the brown one story ranch that is still there. The rest of that strip is empty to this day. Some folks think that strip has been vacant since the 1938 Hurricane (they probably washed out during that storm too but must have been rebuilt), but I remember houses being there before Hurricane Carol.
Thirty years after my family sold our little piece of heaven on Brayton Point I was blessed with the opportunity to buy a cottage (built by the father of a childhood friend) a few houses away from our original house. So I still return to Brayton Point every summer along with many cousins. Counting my grandchildren, we now have five generations of our family who have spent summers on Brayton Point. It is STILL a little piece of heaven.