Historical Society talks hurricanes

Sep 21, 2021

At its first event since the onset of the covid pandemic, members of the Wareham Historical Society gathered Monday night to learn about past hurricanes that impacted the South Coast and share their memories and family stories about past storms.

Many shared their stories of 1954’s Hurricane Carol. One woman said she remembered watching the massive trees in her family’s front yard swaying in the wind until they toppled with a mighty thump — and the fun of playing around the downed trees until they were removed.

Tricia Wurtz said one of her family members’ Briarwood Beach home was swept off its pilings and landed near the Rte. 6 bridge to Marion. After the storm, the family member found a way to tow the home back over and set it on top of its pilings again.

Bob Short said he saw a number of cottages smashed against that same bridge. Many were purchased by an investor who moved the homes back to where they came from and fixed them up to sell, making a nice profit.

That storm flooded Main Street, and several buildings caught fire. Wareham Historical Society President Angela Dunham said she’d been told some firefighters had to dive down under the floodwater to attach their firehoses to the hydrants to fight a fire at the Cornwell’s Department Store.

Paula Brillard, who was a young child, remembered looking out the picture window at her flooded street and calling “Daddy, there’s a house floating down the river!”

Her family tried to drive out of Swifts Neck, and, finding the road impassible, drove out of the neighborhood through yards.

Once Paula and her mother and sister were safe, her father and brother tied themselves together with a length of rope around both their waists to go back to help others.

After the discussion, members browsed photos and other documents related to the historic hurricanes.