Hurricane Memories: BOB

The economy of nature, its checks and balances, its measurements of competing life-all this is its great marvel and has an ethnic of its own.  Live in nature, and you will soon see… that nature has its unexpected and unappreciated mercies.  Whatever attitude to human existence you fashion for yourself, know that it is valid only if it be in the shadow of an attitude to nature.
–Henry Beston, The Outermost House

Cape Cod_0044Monday August 19, 1991 a category three hurricane struck the quaint islands of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.  Weekend news reports informed us of the possibility the Cape would be hit.  CapeCodders are no stranger to hurricanes and other severe weather and actually most natives find the storms enjoyable.  However, strong hurricanes rarely reach as far north as the Cape and when they do they are weak, causing little damage.

Cape Cod_0048This time it was different.  For the first time I made preparations to secure my home, little did I know many others felt it too and were spending their Sunday afternoon securing their homes and boats.  Less than 24-hours later we would all know how different this storm would be.  Very few people had seen such destruction and even fewer remember past storms such as Carol, Edna or the New England hurricane of ‘38.

Ana Perry. Dock and boat damage, Englewood BeachUnfortunately, many did not heed the warnings and paid the price for their indifference to what they believed was yet another false alarm. By 10:30 Monday morning winds picked up. We listened to the radio and the announcer stated, “due to sustained wind speeds of 70-mph officials have closed the Bourne and Sagamore bridges”.  Ferries and air traffic had already been halted.  Traffic at this time was backed up on route 6 from the Cape Cod Canal to the Orleans Rotary, a distance of about 50 miles.  By noon we were without power as was the rest of the Cape.  This would last for up to two weeks.  I would spend the next five hours protecting my home.

Cape Cod_0001The destruction I saw was incredible.  Storm surge flooded coastal homes not protected by seawalls and placed huge sailboats in yards, beaches and roads more than fifty yards from the bay.  Huge trees had been uprooted completely, collapsed building, bridges swept away, and homes washed out to sea.  And we were the lucky ones.  Falmouth and the Buzzards Bay area received the brunt of the storm, flooding most low coastal areas and completely destroying several communities.

Cape Cod_0017The cleanup took two months but before it was finished, before receiving promised federal aid the Cape was hit again this time by a nor’easter named the Perfect Storm which caused almost as much damage.  The Cape would be declared a federal disaster area for the second time this season.

Cape Cod_0045Hurricane Bob is currently ranked the 32nd costliest storm since 1900 with over two billion in costs, which included ten million to crops, 69 million to public facilities such as roads and bridges, and 900 million to insured property.  This does not account for the loss to the tourist industry. The Cape is highly dependent on the tourist industry which is very short; a mere three months. One weekend of lost revenue can devastate a small business.

Cape Cod_0047sepiaThere are many hidden, unquantifiable costs that affect the human-environment relationship, as the vulnerability of Cape Cod rests as much on the socio-psychological effects as well as economic loss.  The culture on Cape Cod is heavily influenced by history, ambiance and the beautiful geography which creates a special relationship between CapeCodders and their landscape. These cannot be quantified.

Sacred Geography: Astronomical Alignment & GIS

am_equinoxAt Mounds State Park, Anderson Indiana you will find the best preserved Adena-Hopewell earthworks in Indiana.  The 2000 year old earthworks were constructed by prehistoric Native Americans as a place for religious worship and observation of seasonal events.  The presence of these earthworks created a landscape perceived as sacred, which continues today.  fourfeatures

The earthworks at Mounds State Park are referred to as enclosures and have four features: an outer embankment, an inner ditch, a central platform and a gateway. These features are common to these large structures often referred to as sacred circles.

labelsDuring a 1988 survey of the southern ceremonial complex at Mounds State Park, archaeologist Don Cochran noticed that when standing in the Fiddleback Mound he could see another person in the Great Mound through a dip in the embankment.  This is unusual as vision is impaired at other places along the embankment. Further investigations revealed a dip aligning with the Woodland Mound to the west.  These are the only places from which the interior of the Great Mound is visible. Further investigations demonstrated that dips in the embankment also aligned with the summer solstice at the Fiddleback Mound and the winter solstice at the Woodland mound.


This line of sight representation demonstrates visibility from the center of the Great Mound to the Fiddleback mound.  The red lines represent areas not visible to the observer and the green lines visible areas. I put this to the test. I had my daughter stand in the middle of the Great Mound. She put her shirt on a stick and then I walked around the mound and verified that these two dips are in fact the only places you can see into the Great Mound.

A side note to the research…I tested this theory early in the morning. We had forgotten to bring a cloth to put on the stick she would hold up. I told her to use her shirt since she was wearing a sports bra. I’ve seen women running in these and thought “not a big deal”. Well it was to her. She was a little insecure about it. I reassured her it was early and no one would see her anyway. By the time I got back around to the front there was a group standing in the entrance. I did recue her and laughed uncontrollably. Poor kid, I do anything for research.

as_equ_flat2ArcScene provides 3-D representation and animation of the landscape which is invaluable to geographers, planers and landscape architects; however, this application had rarely been applied to archaeological or historical sites.  The application of 3-D and animation to prehistoric sites provides archaeologists with a tool to examine and interpret prehistoric landscapes as they were in the past.  Of course, this may not provide a completely accurate representation, nevertheless, the use of spatial analyst and 3D analyst can aid in interpolating past landscapes by adjusting for rates of erosion and variations in vegetation.  This will aid the archaeologist in planning fieldwork, analyzing data and instruction. 

References: Geopiety and Landscape Perceptions at Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana by Barbara A Perry