Hurricane Carol August 31 1954 by Cukie Macomber
At 6AM on August 31, I received a phone call from my father who said the weather bureau had forecast fifty five mile per hour northeast winds. We agreed that we should secure the seaplane owned by me and three other fellows. That plane was a J3 Piper Cub on Edo floats which gave us all a lot of pleasure. That Cub was berthed on a ramp alongside Cherry and Webb Road. With buckets we filled the floats with water which would hold the plane through a hurricane. We did not realize that we were about to experience just that. Finishing the job, we decided it was time for breakfast. It was not to be. The east end of the road had three feet of water and the wind was starting to blow. We drove our three vehicles into the sand dunes as far as possible. Being last in line, my own car was not very high up the dune.
The wind grew stronger and we had to stand behind a cottage to escape the sand driven by the powerful northeast wind. Even with the wind getting to one hundred twenty five miles per hour, the current was so strong in the river that boats were being swept up river against the wind. Dad and I had a swordfish boat on a mooring in the river. We saw a large wharf roaring up the river which hit and cut our mooring line. The “Edith M.” went flying toward the bridge and actually exploded when it hit the pointed granite bridge abutment. That boat was built by Forrest Johnson in Florida and was a well built vessel but hitting that granite was more than it was designed for.
When our boat went, the crew on the swordfishing boat “Broadbill” decided to get out of the river. The current was so strong that they could not slack the mooring line to get it off even though the Detroit Diesel was wide open. George Vincent cut the line with a hatchet and that boat was flying up stream. Captain Eddie Croak managed to work the boat inshore and hit the beach in front of us. Peter Davoll and I put on life jackets and floated near them to tie their line to a utility pole.
The current in the road was almost zero. We tried bobbing up and down and could not touch bottom in the road. The water had to be at least six feet deep.I had been so busy that I had not experienced much stress but when I stopped and thought about the loss of our boat, my car was under water, the plane was under water and Alice was at home with our two little boys, and of course she had no idea what had happened to me, I, a twenty nine year old man, sat down and cried. My mind was soon on other things. We saw many boats hit the bridge and a steel dragger, the “Steelfin”, came ashore near us and sat down on top of a sail boat.
After ten hours of being in that place, we were able to walk to the Point Bridge and head for home. What a surprise – we met Alice in the middle of the bridge and a tearful reunion took place. A neighbor was tending to our sons and her father brought Alice to the Methodist Church from where they walked to the bridge. We found parts of our boat north of the bridge and salvaged the engine.
We got our car running but after a few months the floor gave way from rusting. Alice was driving one day when one of the children yelled “Mommy, my toy just fell through the floor”. That was the end for that vehicle. The FAA would not allow the Piper Cub to be flown again so we stripped it and sold the parts. The design of the engine kept water from entering it so it was valuable along with the floats.
I’m glad I was able to experience three hurricanes, 1938,1944 and 1954 but I have no desire to do it again.