Restored communications in storm-lashed New England disclosed today a major disaster resulting from yesterday's reprecedented hurricane and tidal waves.
By mid-afternoon the number of known dead in New England was 261. Another 35 were added in New York, New Jersey and Quebec, making the total 296.
The toll of known dead by states:
MASSACHUSETTS (including 11 drowned in floods receding the hurricane) -- 72.
CONNECTICUT (including 18 drowned in floods preceding the hurricane) -- 42.
NEW YORK STATE (including 20 killed on Long Island) -- 32.
RHODE ISLAND -- 138.
NEW HAMPSHIRE -- 9.
NEW JERSEY -- 1.
QUEBEC (Montreal) -- 2/
The full horror of the storm as it swept northward over Long Island and New England did not become apparent until telephone communication was re-established between Boston and Rhode Island, the state hardest hit by the worst disaster in the region's history.
The New England toll had been recorded at 134, but the figure rose to 250 within a few minutes after reports started pouring in from Rhode Island and a short time later to 261.
Huge tides piled up by the 100-mile-an-hour hurricane accounted for most of the destruction. Walls of water descended upon Providence and other coast towns and rolled inland as far as one-fifth of a mile.
In addition to the known dead in the hurricane's path hundreds were missing, thousands were homeless and other hundreds were injured. Property damage estimates rose from 90 million dollars early today to 150 million dollars and higher by mid-afternoon.
Whole communities were devastated, many remained cut off from the outside world.
Hardly a community in Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts escaped the hurricane, which appeared to gather intensity as it sped northward. New Hampshire, upstate New York and New Jersey felt the storm to a lesser degree.
Federal weather experts in Washington were surprised by reports from the storm regions.
Forecaster Charles L. Mitchell said "there was nothing in the behavior of the storm as it progressed northward to lead us to believe that such winds would be experienced in New England."
Upwards of 150 persons were missing in New England and Long Island. As rescuers searched wreckage over the six-state area it appeared likely the death toll would soar.
At Washington, President Roosevelt personally issued orders to all Federal agencies to give every assistance possible to the flood and hurricane stricken areas. He called upon the Army, Navy, Coast Guards, CCC, WPA and Red Cross to furnish full facilities.
Already the American Red Cross, Coast Guard and WPA had mobilized its forces to combat threats of disease in scores of communities whose utilities services were disrupted.
To expedite movement of supplies the Interstate Commerce Commission suspended all railroad car and freight service regulations in New England.
According to Coast Guard reports the storm hit near the coast off Cape May traveling to Atlantic City and thence northward until it hit Long Island.
The Connecticut River and tributary streams rose to levels higher than those of the disastrous 1936 flood, the worst on record. The state estimated its damage at more than 30 millions.
In New York State the Hudson River was rising toward 1936 flood levels. U.S. Weather Observer Gustav Lindgren at Albany said the stream would reach a crest at 2 a.m. tomorrow.
Tidal waves, floods and wind created similar havoc in Massachusetts, isolating Cape Cod from the rest of the state and leaving scores of communities desolated.
Providence was one of the chief sufferers in Rhode Island, tremendous tides sweeping 1,000 feet into the city and flooding streets eight to 25 feet deep.
The storm roared through New Hampshire and struck as far north as Montreal.
Throughout the stricken region at least 5,000 were homeless and more than half that number were sent to hospitals in treatment of injuries.
Militiamen went on 24-hour duty in dozens of towns, evacuating inhabitants of lowlands along the Connecticut River and tributary streams in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The hurricane struck first in the metropolitan area on Long Island, ripping South Shore resort communities to pieces. Fifteen of the Island's dead were killed at West Hampton, where luxurious homes built upon sand dunes were blown into the sea. Bodies were found for miles along the beach.
The 90-mile-an-hour wind piled up a 40-foot tidal wave which demolished everything in its path.
The hurricane swept across the island and struck Port Jefferson with full force. The "Park City," a stream ferry operating between Port Jefferson and Bridgeport, Conn., was blown off its course and was unreported for more than six hours with 20 passengers and a crew of five. The vessel was found nine miles off Stratford shoals and was taken in tow by the Coast Guard harbor tug Manhattan. All aboard were reported safe.