60-years-ago-today Hurricane Audrey, which still is on record for being the strongest June hurricane to make landfall, tore across the Cameron coast with winds of 125 mph, producing a storm surge in Cameron Parish of around 12 feet that moved many miles inland.
The storm surge, lack of warning, and under-prepared residents along the coast had no time to evacuate with Audrey’s storm surge and ferocious winds responsible for the hundreds of deaths, with the majority of those in Cameron Parish.
The actual death toll from Audrey may never be known, as many of the missing were swept out to into the Gulf by the storm surge and the bodies were never found.
Audrey developed in the Bay of Campeche and rapidly intensified, making landfall on the morning of of June 27, 1957 while most were sleeping. The high number of deaths were attributed to the storm moving ashore earlier and stronger than originally predicted and in a decade where all radio and TV stations signed off the air in the evening, leaving no form of communication to warn the public to evacuate the coast sooner.
Hurricane Audrey will be a storm that residents of Southwest Louisiana will always remember, as many in the area still know of family members that were lost or affected by the storm in some way.
A statue at a mass grave site at Highland Memorial Park in Lake Charles is just one in Southwest Louisiana memorializing those lost. The mass grave site, marked by the crepe myrtles, is now the resting place of 33 people; all unidentified. But there are other huge grave sites where family members of Audrey victims can visit their loved ones lost.
In 2016, The National Hurricane Center reanalyzed the storm and Audrey was downgraded in the reanalysis from a Category 4 to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale at landfall, as it is reassessed that it had maximum sustained surface winds of 110 kt (125 mph) and a central pressure of 946 millibars, according to the report from the National Hurricane Center’s website.
To learn more about Hurricane Audrey’s devastating impacts to Southwest Louisiana, visit this link to the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.