GLOUCESTER (CBS) — Twenty-five years ago, the Perfect Storm devastated the coast of the Northeast.
It all started when a non-tropical low near Nova Scotia absorbed Hurricane Grace. High pressure over the Eastern US then steered it over New England.
It earned the name “the Perfect Storm” from the National Weather Service due to how unusual and powerful it was.
Gregg Sousa, the owner of the Crow’s Nest Bar & Hotel in Gloucester, still recalls the days the storm affected the fishing town.
“No one ever thinks, this is really it, you could die,” said Sousa. “You’re going to have to tie yourself into the bunker, something like that. You hear stories like that all the time, but no one thinks they’re going to die.”
The storm took the lives of the fishermen on the fishing vessel Andrea Gail. The six-man crew left out of Gloucester, and last reported their position on October 28.
“It was very difficult with three storm systems coming together in a very odd, unusual way,” Sousa said. “There were big seas, literally 80, 100-foot waves. On shore here, the waves were as big as I’ve ever seen.”
“My wife’s brother was one of the guys on the Andrea Gail,” he said. “Bobby Shaffer. Ethel, who worked for me, my wife’s mother, she was sort of a den mother to all those guys. She knew them all.”
The first time they knew the guys were in trouble was as the storm moved toward New England.
“A guy, a regular came in and said, ‘Hey, has anyone heard from the Andrea Gail? It’s been a couple of days, huh?’ And Ethel had no idea,” said Sousa.
The Coast Guard searched for her son and the crew for over a week. As reality set in, the bar became a gathering place for the families.
The Perfect Storm lashed the Northeast coast with, at one point, 78 mph winds in Chatham, and 25-foot waves reaching the shoreline across Massachusetts.
Severe beach erosion and coastal flooding across New England contributed to a total damage cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Crow’s Nest bar was a central location in the book “The Perfect Storm,” written in 1997 by Sebastian Junger. Then came the movie in 2000, with Mark Wahlberg cast in the role of Bobby.
Sousa still keeps in touch with the family members of the Andrea Gail crew, some of whom still live in Gloucester.