Tag Archives: Disaster

- When Disaster Struck the Commonwealth: The 1933 Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane


American Red Cross Promotional Poster, circa 1930s.

With good reason, hurricanes are both a familiar and forbidden subject in the state of Virginia. The Atlantic hurricane season is officially from 1 June to 30 November, with the season’s peak occurring between August-October. During the very active hurricane season of 1933, the Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane hit coastal Virginia on 23 August 1933, causing catastrophic damage.  The storm was first noticed when it was east of the Windward Islands.  By 18 August, the tropical storm was 900 miles east of Puerto Rico and within 150 miles of Bermuda, and on 21 August it became a hurricane.  On 23 August at 9:20 A.M., the storm changed track and the eye passed over Norfolk, Virginia, and moved north.  Some of the lowest pressures ever measured in Virginia occurred with this hurricane.  A second hurricane would hit the mid-Atlantic a few weeks later. 

The stricken area covered large parts of Norfolk, Princess Anne, Northampton, Accomack, Elizabeth City, York, Gloucester, Mathews, and Lancaster counties.  To a lesser extent, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland counties were also affected.  In all, the hurricane caused $27.2 million in damage and fewer than 18 fatalities in Virginia.  The 1933 hurricane season left a destructive path all the way into Pennsylvania and remained the worst series of storms on record in the area until Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

In January 1983, on the eve of … read more »

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- The Virginia Public Records Act Marks 35 Years

 

A view of the 15 December 1970 Botetourt County courthouse fire.

Virginia’s historic records have always existed under the threat of floods, hurricanes, fire, and war. Sometimes the records were saved. Sometimes they were lost.

 When the Botetourt County courthouse was gutted by a fire on 15 December 1970 no one at the time could foresee that such a horrible loss would spur the creation of legislation five years later that created a uniform system for records management in Virginia. The Virginia Public Records Act, passed in 1975, set in motion an effort not only to manage all the state’s records but also to preserve and copy vital historic records contained in local courthouses.

Preservation and duplication efforts continue today with The Library of Virginia’s (LVA) records managers and archivists. The Circuit Court Records Program (CCRP), which began in 1991, continues to not only preserve, digitize, and microfilm historic records from around the state but also to reach out to circuit court clerks in each locality, offering them professional support and financial assistance in the form of grants. To date, the CCRP has funded nearly 1,000 projects worth more than $15 million to preserve records in the circuit court clerks’ offices. Nineteen years later, access to Virginia’s historic records has never been wider with more than 5 million chancery court images now available online. Clerks also have the option of sending historic record collections to the … read more »

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