I moved to New Orleans in the summer of 1965. I was 20 years old. A couple of months later, in September, I had an experience of a lifetime when Hurricane Betsy hit us head-on. Betsy was a Category 4 when it reached Louisiana, and it was a religious experience of a sort.
I was living with my parents on the top floor of a duplex in Uptown New Orleans. None of us had experienced a full-blown hurricane before. My father left his Nash Rambler parked in the driveway. Later, we found what looked like bullet holes in the car body.
Stones had blown through.
Betsy passed overhead in the dead of night. She did sound like a freight train. Trees were bent over. Electricity danced up and down along power lines. At times I crawled to a window to look outside. I could hardly believe what I saw.
In the years that have since passed, I’ve seen videos of hurricanes, but none ever came close to what blew over our house that night. They would show some flapping street signs, etc., at most.
I always supposed that the lack of accurate videos of hurricanes at their worst was due to the fact that only a lunatic would go out to film it, or even approach a window during the height of it. Well, that has changed. There are cell phones, and there are lunatics.
When a hurricane approaches, there are always people you see on the news who say, “Oh, we’ve been through hurricanes before. We’ll be staying at home, like always.” These people have experienced glancing hurricanes at best.
Just four years after Betsy, Hurricane Camille arrived a bit farther to the east, which was good for New Orleans. The west side of a hurricane is the safer side. Camille was worse than Betsy. Yet again, there were people on the news declaring their intentions to ride it out.
Camille wiped entire homes off their foundations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. People simply vanished forever. Plenty of them. The video below provides a good idea of what these things can do, especially at the 0:08 point.
You do not want to stay home.
Speaking of lunatics, here’s another video of what appears to be one of those wacky groups who drive toward tornados. Looks like they also drive into hurricanes. I hope they have life insurance.
(Aftermath: The day after Betsy landed, I was able to drive north to Baton Rouge where I moved into a LSU dorm room. Damage in Baton Rouge was far less. Like right now, power was mostly off in New Orleans, and my parents lived with that, in the dark, for more than a week.)