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Museum of the Gulf Coast Collection - Hurricane Carla Aftermath (1961)

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Silent | 1961

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  •  Neighbors gather to assess the damage and receive relief aid 
  •  Dog training 
  •  Floodwaters 
  •  Scene in nearby Groves, which also suffered hurricane-spawned tornadoes 
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This home movie captures the destruction left by Hurricane Carla in Port Arthur, a coastal city near Beaumont, in September 1961. The Category-5 hurricane arrived with 175 mph tornadoes, torrential rains, and a 22-foot storm surge. The storm also produced several tornadoes, including an F4 near Galveston that remains the strongest hurricane-spawned tornado ever recorded. The film shows some of the damage, including torn-off roofs, washed out yards, and demolished houses.
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.