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The Cecil Hunley Family Films - Surfside Beach after Hurricane Carla (1961)

Cecil Hunley

Silent | 1961

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  •  Houses are stripped of roofs and siding 
  •  An ambulance stands by 
  •  A group of people stand where a house once was 
  •  The docks appear completely unrecognizable 
  •  Family and friends hang by the trailers 
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This home movie captures the overwhelming destruction left by Hurricane Carla in Surfside Beach, a coastal city near Freeport, in September 1961. The Category-5 hurricane arrived with 175 mph tornadoes, torrential rains, and a 22-foot storm surge. The film shows some of the damages: cars flipped on their sides, telephone poles torn down, and houses stripped of everything but the foundations.
Carla began as a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea during late summer of 1961. Increasing in severity, the storm eventually grew into a Category 5 hurricane. Though the storm made landfall between Port O'Connor and Port Lavaca, it was so large that entire coast was affected; over half a million residents were evacuated, and damage was reported as far inland as Dallas. Carla caused $325 million (today $2.03 billion) in damage and killed at least 42 people.
An interesting note from the 1961 hurricane: then little known news anchor Dan Rather reported live during the storm from the Galveston seawall. It was the first live broadcast during a hurricane, later to become common practice in weather reporting.