As Hurricane Sandy inches closer to making landfall, many on the East Coast are reminded of an October 1991 storm that was the result of a similarly unique combination of weather fronts. The 1991 hurricane — later called the “perfect storm” — turned deadly off the coast of Gloucester, Mass., taking the lives of six fishermen aboard their boat, the “Andrea Gale.” The fishing boat was caught in three colliding storm systems.
The tragedy was the basis for the best-selling book and movie “The Perfect Storm,” and remains fresh in the minds of many in the seaport town, particularly as Hurricane Sandy is on track to become another “superstorm.”
CBS News’ Seth Doane visited Gloucester ahead of Hurricane Sandy and spoke to residents, many of whom rely on fishing and lobster-trapping for their livelihoods, about their preparations and plans for the storm.
The U.S. Coast Guard began warning fishermen about what they call “a powerful storm … impacting New England offshore” days ago, but Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Quinn said that a distress call during the course of a hurricane is inevitable.
“I would hope not,” Quinn said, “but at some point, something is going to happen.”
And while residents of Massachusetts’ North Shore communities are familiar with ferocious weather, Quinn warns that they will likely face significant coastal flooding in Hurricane Sandy’s wake. “Especially with the storm surges coming up the wind,” Quinn said, “waves and the tide is going to be a big factor.”
Gloucester residents prepared over the weekend, packing up their fishing haul quickly and tying their boats down tightly.
Lobsterman Dave Jewell brought in some of his 800 lobster traps before the storm, and said that despite precautions, the traps “gets all tangled together out there.” After the storm, “everybody tries to work together to untangle everything or whatever you can.” Still he said, there will “definitely [be] a mess to clean up.”
Others in the fishing community remain brazen in the face of the storm despite the 1991 tragedy. Gloucester resident Anthony Trupiano told Doane, “Every time they say something bad is going to happen storm-wise … it always turns out not that bad.”
For his part, Dave Jewell hopes to be back out on the water by Wednesday. Before then, he plans to “make sure everything is tight … keep an eye on the weather and as soon as it breaks, we’ll go for it and take a look and see what’s left.”
Throughout the course of the storm, Quinn and the Coast Guard will remain on high alert for distress calls. Despite their warnings before the storm, they cannot prevent ships from going out, so they are prepared for ocean rescues in the midst of Hurricane Sandy.
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