Did you know that a blizzard lead to the implementation of subways?

On March 11, 1888, a blizzard hit the northeast section of the US including New York, Boston, and the rest of New England. The super nor’easter lasted three days and dropped up to 58 inches of snow and sustained winds up to 85 miles per hour. Railroads shut down, telegraph lines were disabled, and emergency services like fire, rescue, and police were impeded. The wind produced snow drifts up to 50 feet. About 400 people died in the storm and the ensuing cold temperatures.

Many businesses were shut down during the storm, but workers tried to get to work anyway. Hundreds of people were stranded on train platforms and in cars that couldn’t move. Some people tried walking to work and several froze to death. Famed politician Roscoe Conkling died as a result of attempting to walk to work and catching pneumonia.

Damage caused by the storm

Downed utility wires caused fires throughout the area and since fire stations were disabled, the fires destroyed more than they would have normally. More than 200 ships on the Chesapeake were wrecked. High winds and the weight of ice and snow caused roofs, trees, and utility poles to collapse. The icy cold temperatures caused pipes to freeze and burst. Severe flooding occurred after the temperatures rose and the snow melted. Estimates of the damage were as high as $50 million (about $1.3 billion in 2019).

What role could a public adjuster play after a storm like this?

Most of the damage caused by the storm would have been covered by insurance and a public adjuster would have been able to assist home and business owners with their claims. Many businesses were unable to stay open during the storm, but unfortunately, unless a business was closed as a result of damage to its building, lost income would not be covered by insurance. However, weight of ice and snow, fire, pipe bursts, and fallen trees are covered.

Changes made due to the storm

The storm lead to many utilities being placed underground including water, telegraph, and gas. The storm also lead to plans for placing trains underground, with Boston opening the first subway system in the nation in 1898.

For more information

Check out this Weather Channel video about the storm. For even more in depth information, read Mary Clark’s The Blizzard of 88.

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