Destruction at Island Park

As we try to find stories about what happened in Portsmouth during the Hurricane of 1938, one of the best sources comes from “A Wind to Shake the World” by Everett S. Allen (Little Brown, 1976). The author interviewed survivors and one of the interviews was of Ann Reynolds who was ten years old at the time.

Ann relates when she and her brother came home from school at 3PM, no one was home. Mrs. Joseph Jackson, a neighbor, invited them to come to her home as the storm intensified. As they came to the Jackson cottage, they noticed that the water had already started to come into the cellar. Two women and a baby from Common Fence Point asked to come into the Jackson house to get out of the storm. By 5 PM waves were crashing against the house and the water was beginning to reach the second floor. The Jacksons decided to leave the house and the Jacksons made an improvised raft.

Ann related: “The two women with the baby refused to leave the house, believing they were safer in the building than outside. Just as we floated off, we saw the house swept away by the tidal wave, with the women and the baby still in it.”

“Mr. Jackson had Johnny (Reynolds, age 8) on his back, but when his weight took him under water several times, he passed my brother to Earl (Jackson, aged 22). Earl and my brother floated away in another direction and we lost sight of them. Just before we reached high land, Mr. Jackson slipped off the board which we used for a raft, leaving me on high land, where the water reached only to my knees. Mr. Jackson rushed back and caught Mrs. Jackson just as she was going down for the third time.” (pg 225)

The Jacksons and the Reynold’s family lost their homes, but John Reynolds and Earl Jackson were found the next morning by Mr. Reynolds. They had landed safely two miles away.