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Rock You Like a Hurricane

Here’s a posting all of my Cape Cod readers may recall. My last summer on Cape Cod was 1991…and less than two weeks before I was to permanently move to Boston, the region was struck by Hurricane Bob. The track of the storm brought it just west of the Cape Cod Canal. As with all hurricanes, the strongest winds are to the east of the eye so the Cape received the brunt of the storm (as it was the only land east of the eye as you can see by the green portion of the track in this map):


However, the further away you got from the eye (Chatham, for example) the less damage there was. The worst of the storm struck the Buzzards Bay area (Wareham, Bourne and even Falmouth) were some coastal homes were literally moved off their foundations. Osterville was somewhere in between. The storm was a level 3 just before hitting the Cape, but when we got hit on Monday, August 19, 1991 it was a level 2 – with sustained winds of 90+ miles per hour and gusts up to 120 miles per hour.

My family watched in the morning as the clouds grew ominous. We could hear the winds get worse – yet for some reason we had very little rain. Mostly, we had ocean spray (you could smell the salt in the air when the storm was over). The winds were so strong that entires trees were up-rooted and we lost portions of our roof. Fortunately, no trees landed on our house. I can’t say the same for three of our neighbors. Our house was white and the side facing south-east (the direction the wind came from) ended up with a pale green shade as a result of the grass and leaves that were blowing in that direction.

We were without electricity for 6 days which I didn’t really mind except that I was dying to see footage of the storm on the news. Well, and having no hot water after the second day was rather annoying, too. That Friday I had to go to Wentworth for something (make a payment? orientation? I can’t recall) and I was relieved that they let me use their hot showers. The drive up to Boston was very interesting, too, because the damage became non-existent within miles of the canal. It was like nothing had happened up there. Yet 75 miles south was a whole different story.

I also recall within a week or so of the storm that the trees all shed their leaves (what few leaves were left, that is). But then the trees tried growing their leaves back again off-season, only to lose them again weeks later at the normal time in October.

Anyway, why am I bringing all this up? Well, because I scanned those photos yesterday! Enjoy!

Here is the back corner of our yard.

910819 109 West Bay Road Osterville MA 03.JPG

And the other side of the back yard. Notice the leaning telephone pole? It snapped at the base and was propped up by the tree. It remains that way to this day (well, at least until my parents sold the house 10 years later).

910819 109 West Bay Road Osterville MA 04.JPG

And our front yard…notice the three completely uprooted trees across the street? Those were HUGE trees – as tall as the tree that remains standing.

 910819 AFTER view 109 West Bay Road Osterville MA.JPG

This is at the end of our street at West Bay. Even in these protected waters boats were thrown into the street and onto people’s yards.

910819 Bridge Street Osterville MA.JPG

And here I am….in my neighbors yard (the top of the tree is on their house).

910819 Karl West Bay Road Osterville MA.JPG

And here’s my street from a different angle. My house is the white thing in the center left behind the trees.

910819 First Avenue Osterville MA 01.JPG

This is the same street facing the other direction. It was completely blocked for a week by many trees.

910819 First Avenue Osterville MA 03.JPG

This is Main Street in Osterville. See the snapped-in-half utility pole hanging sideways by wires?

910819 Main Street Osterville MA 02.JPG

Another shot of Main Street in Osterville – the main road into (and out of) the village.

910819 Main Street Osterville MA 03.JPG

My other neighbors…they lost two huge trees.

910819 West Bay Road Osterville 01.JPG

Another neighbor – this tree even took the sidewalk! This one landed on their house, unfortunately.

910819 West Bay Road Osterville 02.JPG

And here’s a bit of whimsy taken a few nights later in my neighbors yard. In case it’s not legibile, the signs says: “Pictures $1.00. With the female crew, $2.00. Kisses, $3.00. Advice from Lucy, 5 cents.”

910819 Karl West Bay Road Osterville MA 02.JPG


  1. Comment by Mark on March 21, 2007 10:40 am

    Ah, hurricanes. The first one I really remember was Hugo, which came through in 1989. We got a huge amount of damage from the storm, but it was *nothing* compared to what friends of my family down in Charlotte got. It looked like a bomb had exploded.

    The last bad one I remember was Fran, which came through in 1996 when I was still in college. It flooded my apartment and knocked out our power for a few days. My poor neighbors were much worse off, since they were lower in the building (yes, the building sloped) and their apartment had way more than the few inches of water that ours had. Because there was no power for the pump, they could only watch all their stuff get destroyed that they couldn’t move easily into a higher location.

    I am enjoying the Karl retrospective! If I had photographic evidence of my childhood, I would post it!

  2. Comment by steve paris on March 21, 2007 9:54 pm

    I was off Cape during the storm. I returned to Barnstable on Sunday and after I got off Route 6 downed trees were everywhere and the newly opened spaces let in more more light. The air was thick with the strong sharp scent of pine.

  3. Comment by Dave in Chicago (2) on March 22, 2007 3:29 pm

    Jesus, how skinny are you in that last photo? Yikes, call the Olsens twins!

  4. Comment by snarl on March 22, 2007 3:31 pm

    I was young. Plus, I think the photo may have become a bit distored in posting it here.

    Are you saying I’m not thin now?

  5. Comment by Dave in Chicago (2) on March 23, 2007 12:05 am

    You’re perfect now, Dear. I wouldn’t date an Olsen twin (with a dick, of course). *smooches*

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