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An Earthquake And A Hurricane, Once In A Lifetime? Maybe Not

This garage was washed down to Main Street in Prattsville from a block away.  A Greene County Sheriff's vehicle parked inside was heavily damaged. (credit: Tony Aiello, CBS 2)

This garage was washed down to Main Street in Prattsville from a block away. A Greene County Sheriff’s vehicle parked inside was heavily damaged. (credit: Tony Aiello, CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Hurricane Irene hit the Tri-State area just days after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Virginia and rolled its way across the Northeast, leaving many wondering if it was a once in a lifetime occurrence.

But people may be surprised to know it’s happened at least once before in our area in September of 1944.

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According to the United States Geological Survey’s website, a 5.6 quake rattled upstate New York on September 4, 1944 and was felt as far away as Wisconsin.

The headline in the Star Ledger read “Earthquake Jars Wide Area In The East — Shocks Felt Here.”

Then, on September 14, 1944, what’s now called the Great Atlantic Hurricane passed over Long Island as a Category 3 hurricane, according to Hurricanes: Science and Society’s website.

The 1944 hurricane brought 80 mph winds to New York City.

Click here to read a weather article from 1944 about the Great Atlantic Hurricane.

Frank Dooley, now an 86-year-old lawyer in West Orange, New Jersey, was on a merchant marine tanker ship when the storm hit.

“We were returning to the shipyard in the New York Harbor. We’re coming up the East Coast and we got hit by the storm,” he said. “Later I learned a Navy destroyer sunk with a loss of over 200 lives and three Coast Guard cutters went down.”

He said the 1944 storm left Long Beach Island and Cape May under water.

“Nobody really recorded accurately the damages from that storm. The government did want the country to know for example that three destroyers went down off the Jersey coast.”

The Great Atlantic hurricane came only a few years after the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

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