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13 Vintage Photos of Hurricanes and Their Aftermath

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As Hurricane Sandy makes landfall on the East Coast, here's a look back at other dramatic hurricanes in American history.

Galveston, Texas Hurricane, September 1900

This hurricane was the deadliest in U.S. history—the estimated death toll was 8000 (to compare, 1800 people died during Hurricane Katrina).

Damage to a church.


The hurricane, which had a storm surge of 15 feet, also destroyed a public school.

Workers recovering bodies, which were then burned.

The New England Hurricane of 1938

Before Sandy, this storm—nicknamed the Long Island Express, because it actually reshaped part of the island's coastline—was the most powerful hurricane at this latitude.


Damage on a street in Keene, New Hampshire.

Debris along a New England Shoreline.

The Connecticut River overflowed.


A couple sits near the wreckage of their home in Highland Park, Rhode Island.

Hurricane Carol, August 1954


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A man holds onto a tree by the seashore against severe winds during Hurricane Carol's assault on the Northeastern seaboard, Brooklyn, New York.


Flooding in New England. Carol came about under similar meteorological circumstances as the 1938 hurricane. At the time, this storm was the third costliest in U.S. history.

Hurricane Donna, August and September 1960


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A fire tender being driven through a flooded street in New York street in the wake of Hurricane Donna.

Hurricane Betsy, August and September 1965


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A Miami Beach resident emerges from his home and braves high winds and waist-deep water to assess the damage that Hurricane Betsy has done to his property. The storm caused caused $1.42 billion worth of damage in the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana, earning the storm the nickname "Billion Dollar Betsy."


A view from inside the eye of the storm.

Hurricane Hugo, September 1989


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Hurricane Hugo slams into the eastern coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wind gusts of 140 mph and heavy rains ripped through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, before the storm struck land again in South Carolina on September 22. It was a Cape Verde-type storm; hurricanes of this type form off the coast of Africa and tend to be very powerful because they have a lot of warm water to fuel them before they hit land.

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Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
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Pop Culture
The Cult of Prince Philip
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images

For seven decades, Prince Philip has been one of the more colorful figures in Britain's Royal Family, prone to jarring remarks and quips about women, the deaf, and overweight children.

"You're too fat to be an astronaut," he once told a boy sharing his dream of space travel.

British media who delighted in quoting him are still lamenting the 96-year-old's recent retirement from public duties. But the people of the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu are likely to be optimistic he'll now have the time to join them: They worship him as a god and have based a religion on him.

Followers of the Prince Philip Movement, which started in the 1960s, believe that the prince was born to fulfill an ancient prophecy: that the son of an ancient mountain spirit would one day take the form of a pale-skinned man, travel abroad, marry a powerful lady, and eventually return to the island. When villagers saw the prince’s portrait, they felt the spirit in it, and when he visited Vanuatu in 1974, they were convinced.

Chief Jack Naiva, a respected warrior in the culture, greeted the royal yacht and caught sight of Philip on board. "I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform," Naiva once said. "I knew then that he was the true messiah."

True believers assign large world movements to the machinations of Philip. They once claimed his powers had enabled a black man to become president of the United States and that his "magic" had assisted in helping locate Osama bin Laden. The community has corresponded with Buckingham Palace and even sent Philip a nal-nal, a traditional club for killing pigs, as a token of its appreciation. In return, he sent a portrait in which he’s holding the gift.

Sikor Natuan, the son of the local chief, holds two official portraits of Britain's Prince Philip in front of the chief's hut in the remote village of Yaohnanen on Tanna in Vanuatu.
TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images

The picture is now part of a shrine set up in Yaohnanen in Vanuatu that includes other photos and a Union flag. In May 2017, shortly after the Prince announced his retirement, a cyclone threatened the island—and its shrine. But according to Matthew Baylis, an author who has lived with the tribe, the natives didn't see this so much as a cause for concern as they did a harbinger of the prince's arrival so he can bask in their worship.

To date, Prince Philip has not announced any plans to relocate.

A version of this story ran in a 2012 issue of Mental Floss magazine.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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