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Last week, the Sanctuary hosted an event for the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership which featured Stephen Long, author of Thirty Eight: The Hurricane That Transformed New England.  Steve’s book is a great read and I don’t think the recent review in the NY Times (9/23/2016) does the book justice.  The review was critical of the lack of personal stories about ruined lives.  One reason I enjoyed the book is that Steve’s point of view is different than most, focusing more on the effect ’38 had on our woods, forestry and the wood products industry rather than on individuals and communities.

That’s the scientist in me- please don’t think I am coldhearted and have no compassion for my neighbors in the wake of a natural disaster.  The experiences of people are often well documented, but what about the woods?  We, the people, become complacent and the sudden change is calamitous, agonizing and unfortunate.  To the land, that change might not be so horrendous.  In his book, Steve explains that he was curious about what happened to his woods, using clues still visible to the trained eye, and how that change affected the land.

Thirty Eight is a natural disaster that is far enough away in time that most people don’t really know about the ‘Long Island Express’ that snuck up on New England.  While we have experienced a few extreme weather events in recent times, the fact is another major hurricane is going to hit New England sooner or later.  We’re very lucky as forecasting technology has improved and we’ll know what’s coming.  Especially today, as I watch the ensemble models for the track of Hurricane Matthew, which surprised forecasters overnight as it raged into a Category 5 storm heading for Jamaica and possibly the East Coast of the US.

[lightbox link=”” thumb=”×200.jpg” width=”320″ align=”left” title=”38book” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=”Stephen Long’s Book- a good read”] [lightbox link=”” thumb=”×200.gif” width=”320″ align=”right” title=”caine38″ frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=”The Path of the Hurricane of ’38”]

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