Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hurricane Betsy September 9th 1965 New Orleans Louisiana

Click to enlarge the picture. That is a picture of trees blown down in Jackson Square across from the Pontalba Apartment buildings.
The link below is to a very good government movie about Hurricane Betsy.

My wife and I rode out Hurricane Betsy on September 9th, 1965 in the top floor apartment at 731 Ursulines Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
All night long we could hear the slate from the roofs breaking loose.
In the morning I found pieces of the slate that had been blown so hard they had been embedded in brick walls.
I borrowed a Vespa Motor Scooter from a friend and rode all around the city.
 Mostly I saw downed trees. Some broken windows on Canal Street. A large radio tower broke and fell across Canal Street.

In the French Quarter there were some brick walls that collapsed.

 It was a category 3 hurricane when it got to New Orleans. Since the levees were better back then and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet had not been finished by that time so all of the city did not flood like it did during Hurricane Katrina. Some of the lower areas did flood. These were poor parts of the city. The gossip was the city fathers flooded those areas to save the city.

I had a friend who was a reporter on The States Item Newspaper. They had sent him to Grand Isle to cover the hurricane. His editor told him "We don't think it is coming that way but we want you to go down there". The eye of Hurricane Betsy came right over Grand Isle and blew away everything on the island except the Coast Guard Station which was built to withstand 200 mile an hour winds.

    As it was coming over his editor called him to ask what was happening. My friend told him the fire station just blew past the Coast Guard Station.
  He was stuck down there.  He was a photographer as well as a reporter. The Army flew him out so he could get his pictures back to New Orleans. His pictures of the hurricane damage to Grand Isle,La. were printed in the newspaper and were nominated later for a Pulitzer Prize.

   I went back down to Grand Isle with him to get his car(a Volkswagen)but it had been confiscated by the military since it was the only car on the island that would run. It had been ruined and they promised to buy him another one. They also took his gun which was in the glove compartment.
I remember on the drive from New Orleans down to Grand Isle everything seemed to have been destroyed. Blown over by the hurricane winds and destroyed by the storm surge of the water.