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Childhood Hurricane Memories

By : Chrissy LeMaire | 0 Comments | On : August 28, 2005 | Category : Cajun Country Blog

So Katrina is about to hit Louisiana and like everyone else, I’m pretty worried. The warning only goes as far as Morgan City which is about an hour east of Lafayette. It’s on the outer most part of Cajun Country. I can’t imagine what New Orleans is going to look like after tomorrow. I’m hoping for the best for not only people’s lives but the historical sites as well.

The newscasters are comparing this hurricane to Camille which is pretty scary. We Cajun kids all heard tales of Camille. My mom, though, always talked aboutHurricane Audrey. Audrey hit Louisiana in 1957 and back then, people knew hurricanes were coming but it wasn’t common to evacuate. We talked about it tonight on the phone and she told me she remembers it like yesterday. She said…

The eye of Audrey, a category 4 hurricane, passed right over Erath where we grew up. We always rode out storms; they were just another part of life and this one was no different. Audrey, however, was really memorable for me; it was the scariest – even scarier than Camille.

The winds were pounding the house and my 8 siblings and I were all huddled in a corner. There were trees falling on top of the house and Daddy was holding a mattress up against the door, trying to stop it from exploding open. Our house was shaped like an L and once he heard the shorter part of the house crack off, he decided it was time to get us out of the house. He wrapped off of us in a blanket and carried us out to the car. I can remember the wind was so hard, the raindrops slamming into my face felt like stickers.

It was so dark and Dad was stumbling, not because we were heavy, but because the wind was so fierce. We finally get to the car and we start making our way to our aunt’s house. The eye was passing over us at that point so the drive wasn’t bad until we were stopped in our tracks by fallen power lines. We had to back up and it was prertty scary because by now the road was extremely muddy. The nearby coulee began to flood too just as the rain and wind started back up. Miraculously, we drove right through that Category 4 hurricane and made it to my aunt’s brick house. We all ran inside the house and rode the rest of the hurricane out.

Another memorable hurricane was Hurricane Hilda which struck Erath in 1964. It was such a sad time, my family and I were all safe but not everyone I knew made it out alive. A few of the people I knew from school including the school crossing guard were killed in a really tragic accident. The Erath Water Tower collapsed and fell onto the Civil Defense Headquarters, killing 8 boys and men. I knew all but two of them and I knew two of the youngest from school. Rumor had it that the ball part of the water tower was picked up and thrown by the strong winds of the hurricane but in reading the newspaper article, it was revealed that the legs actually gave way and collapsed under the weight of the 10,000 gallons of water. It was such a dark time for my hometown. It’s now over 4 decades later and reading about it on the Internet still fills me with sorrow.

The link she is talking about can be found here on the Vermilion Parish school board’s website. It has not only the detailed story but also photos of the crushed water tower and pictures of all 8 men who died in the tragedy.

My friends and family in Cajun Country aren’t extremely worried for their own safety right now. The weather experts predict that the wind will max out at 45 in that area. Let’s hope so..until then, they will probably follow tradition by all gathering at the sturdiest family member’s house and eat, drink and try to stay safe.

 

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