BOSTON (CBS) – Hurricane Bob became the most expensive hurricane in New England history in 1991, costing taxpayers more than $1.5 billion to repair the damage.
On August 16, 1991, Bob developed from an area of low pressure near the Bahamas, strengthening into a tropical storm and then a hurricane.
Two days later, it brushed the outer banks of North Carolina and then intensified into a major Category 3 storm.
On August 19th, Bob made landfall not once, but twice, as a Category 2 storm, first on Block Island, then in Newport, Rhode Island.
It seems like yesterday to Skywarn spotter M.L. Baron.
“I just about had a narrow escape to get out of the way as everything started getting worse. The surge was right behind me,” he recalled 25 years later.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years and of course this area of southeastern Massachusetts was the epicenter for Bob as it came up here.”
Hurricane force winds battered the South Coast, Cape and Islands with a peak gust of 125 miles per hour on Block Island.
Charles Orloff had been walking home in Yarmouth, when he had to take shelter behind a wall.
“There were things blowing all over the place,” he told WBZ-TV. “Limbs and trees were coming down, ya know it was wild!”
From Buzzards Bay to Cape Cod, the surge, waves, and wind left substantial damage, more than $1 billion worth in Massachusetts alone.
“The sun was coming out and that’s when people started to go out and then you started to digest for days and weeks the kind of destruction that took place,” Baron said.
Some power outages lasted for month.
It was devastation Hoppy Hobson saw first-hand as a Fairhaven police officer.
“All these telephone poles were gone, there was no electricity, part of the causeway was washed out, you couldn’t drive over it,” he told WBZ-TV recently.
“Whole houses came off their foundations and I think a couple were in the street.”
One of those houses belonged to Ronald Manzone.
“I could see the cottage and the cottage started to shake and all of a sudden it popped up like a buoy. It just went ‘poof’ right up in the air,” he told WBZ.
Manzone had spent 8 months renovating his family’s property. He had just completed the work three days before the storm hit.
His uncle’s cottage next door didn’t survive either.
“I’ll be honest with ya, I couldn’t drive down here for a couple of years,” Manzone said. “It still breaks my heart to drive by.”
The landscape on Cape Cod had been transformed.
“I could not believe what I saw,” said Orloff. “Mid-Cape lost a quarter of a million trees, they estimate, and it changed the look of the Cape really forever.”
“This hurricane, I’m going to be honest with ya, it was an education. What I actually saw, believe me, I’ll never forget, every second of it,” Manzone said.
“Mother Nature on the wrath should be respected and if you don’t respect it, sooner or later it’ll educate you the hard way,” Baron told WBZ.