Sept. 22, 1938 -- Greenwich was hit last evening by a tropical hurricane with 80-mile-an-hour winds and flood tides that brought death and destruction to New England coastal communities. With little warning of the storm's approach, the town's municipal services of Greenwich Police, Fire Department and National Guard mobilized to combat the worst storm and flood conditions this town has ever seen.
Motorboats churned through what were principal streets of Old Greenwich, Cos Cob and the Pemberwick sections of town, and all rivers and streams overflowed with the torrential downpour that followed many days of rain. The entire area of Binney Park was under water, which spilled over the sidewalks and flooded Sound Beach Avenue.
The storm reached its destructive zenith about 8 p.m. last night when a tidal wave, from 7 to 8 feet high, hit the shoreline. "High tide last night was due at 10:30 p.m. but a gigantic wall of water hit our shore at 8 o'clock," said Commissioner of Highways, Pierpont L. Miner. "It has never happened before in Greenwich."
Winds also uprooted rows of trees at a sweep, some causing considerable damages as they crashed against dwellings. Others fell upon automobiles in the street.
A drama played out in front of the First Methodist Church across from the YMCA when Jay Sprong, an Island Beach lifeguard, pushed Ronald Minchin from danger's path and leapt himself to safety when he heard the ancient tree before the church straining against its roots. It fell upon an automobile wherein two men were chatting who managed to escape unharmed.
The storm had been preceded by a four-day period of rain -- the 8.80-inch rainfall broke all-time records. In the Pemberwick and Shoreland areas, 100 families were compelled to abandon their homes. In Cos Cob, residents in the Cross Lane and Loughlin Avenue section reported from one to two feet of water over most of the road. Lawns on Valleywood Road were almost completely submerged.
Indian Harbor Yacht Club had two feet of water in its kitchen. The flood waters ripped up an outdoor dance floor at the club and carried it out to the waterfront. Tides ran from 8 to 10 feet above normal and swept over Grass Island, covering it to a depth of three feet. Bruce Park was turned into a lake at the Indian Harbor Drive entrance.
At Greenwich Police headquarters during the town's power outage, police flares were used in place of candles. Although many wires were reported down in Greenwich, power was expected to be restored in all sections of the town by this evening.