Lessons of the New England Hurricane
Among the lessons taught by the New England Hurricane of September 21 was that too much dependence cannot be placed on outside aid in times of emergency caused by storms.
When the city of New London, Conn., tried to call aid from New Haven and Hartford, as a huge fire was threatening the destruction of the entire city, it was not only impossible to get in communication with the fire officials of these cities because of disrupted telephone and telegraph service, but even had a message been sent through by radio, as was attempted, it would have been impossible for apparatus to reach the stricken city because of roads blocked by fallen trees and poles. Railroad trains were likewise stopped by wash outs and blocked tracks. Apparatus from nearby Waterford only reached New London, after four hours spent in chopping a way through fallen trees across highways.
The need for heavy wrecking trucks and for mobile lighting units was demonstrated. also the need for placing fire alarm wires underground. The value of short wave radio was again demonstrated. The necessity for a system of limited response, for use in emergencies, was shown by the situation in Boston, where at one time during the storm every piece of apparatus in the city was out of quarters, with the exception of one ladder truck, even though reduced assignments had been put in effect. Fire alarm circuits went out and it was impossible to communicate with headquarters. In this situation two-way radio proved its value. “A portable lighting unit on every ladder truck” is the recommendation of several New England Chiefs.