Hurricanes That Destroyed U.S. Towns:

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ncforecaster89
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Hurricanes That Destroyed U.S. Towns:

#1 Postby ncforecaster89 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:13 pm

As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time researching hurricanes of the past, thought I'd share information regarding a few hurricanes that changed history by completely erasing entire towns from the map!

1) LA Balize, Louisiana:

9/22-23/1740: A hurricane, of unknown strength, struck the low lying French town of La Balize, Louisiana. It destroyed every structure on the Island. The storm surge from this presumably powerful hurricane created a new Island nearby, where the survivors chose to rebuild their village.

After being reestablished on the aforementioned new Island of San Carlos, La Balize was once again completely wiped out by a very large storm surge from another hurricane of unknown intensity, between the dates of 10/7 and 10/10/1778. Again, the survivors rebuilt at this location.

The United States took control of the territory in 1803, and they too endured a similar fate as that of the French government...as the town continued to suffer severe damage from subsequent hurricanes; such as a memorable one in 1831. By 1853, the residents had chosen to relocate to the SouthWest Pass...about 5 miles to the NW of the original settlement.

A hurricane of an estimated borderline category two/three strength dealt a final blow to the town of La Balize on 9/14-15/1860. The strong winds and significant storm surge wiped away virtually all structures and convinced the survivors to finally abandon the town, for good.

2) St. Joseph, Florida:

After its founding in 1835, this community grew very quickly. So much so that it had become the most populous settlement in the entire territory of Florida by 1837. This boomtown was even selected to host the first Constitutional convention, in 1838, to develop a constitution to be used when Florida had become a State.

This thriving Port City continued to prosper until the early part of 1841, when one ship brought far more than the usual cargo; Yellow fever! Within a period of six months, 75% of the population had succumbed to the disease, while another 15% chose to abandon the town, altogether.

A devastating hurricane barreled ashore on 9/14/1841, spurring a further decline of this once influential city. Three years later, on 9/9/1844, another powerful hurricane delivered a very large storm surge and high winds that wiped out the remaining structures in this coastal town. With it, came the end of St. Joseph!

3) Port Leon, Florida:

Similar to St. Joseph, Port Leon was established in a very vulnerable area to the devastating effects of hurricanes. Located about 3 miles to the south of St. Marks, the town was established in 1837. Also like St. Joseph before it, Port Leon grew rather quickly as an important port for the distribution of cotton from surrounding communities.

Unfortunately, the yellow fever epidemic that was brought into St. Joseph, in 1841, spread throughout the region and took the lives of many of its residents. Despite that misfortune, the town survived and even became the county seat of Wakulla County, on 3/11/1843. As luck would have it, bad luck in this case, a powerful hurricane produced a large storm surge that completely wiped out the town of Port Leon on 9/13/1843. Less than a week thereafter, city leaders met and made plans to select a new location for the establishment of another town that offered less vulnerability to destructive storm surge inundation from the Gulf of Mexico.

They found just such a place positioned a few miles further inland than the previous one. The new town, named Newport, was established in February of 1844 and became the new county seat of Wakulla County. Today, only a few residents remain.

NOTE: As you will see in future posts in this thread, these are just three of numerous other United States towns that were destroyed and left uninhabited, as a direct result of their encounters with a devastating hurricane.
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hurricanes That Destroyed U.S. Towns:

#2 Postby ncforecaster89 » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:12 pm

4) Last Island, Louisiana:

Isle Dernière, the formal name of “Last Island”, was a barrier island established some time in the 1840s as a summer playground for the wealthy. Located a little more than 75 miles to the SW of New Orleans, its location attracted aristocrats from all over the state of Louisiana (many of whom owned summer homes on the Island) seeking to enjoy the white sand beaches and the pleasant breezes blowing directly off the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

By the early part of 1856, more than 100 homes had been erected, along with other dwellings such as a large ocean-front hotel, a billards parlor, and several gambling lodges.

On one fateful late summer day, August 10, 1856, this Island paradise was transformed into a living Hell on Earth for more than 400 inhabitants who were vacationing there, at the time. At around 4 pm CDT, they found themselves in the absolute worst of a high-end category-four hurricane! With the Island situated at only 5 feet above sea level, the majority of these vacationers were suddenly thrust into the fast-moving waters of the GOM, when a storm surge of at least 12’ engulfed the Island and battered their places of refuge. Once out in the debris-filled waters, many were swept away and drowned...while many others were blungeoned to death or impaled by flying debris from the maximum sustained winds estimated to have been at least 150 mph! Some unfortunate souls had their last breath snuffed out when the dwellings they occupied, suddenly collapsed on them.

By the time night had fallen, roughly half of the vacationers had perished. The large and very destructive storm surge cut the Island in two and convinced the survivors that this presumed idyllic abode was unsuitable for human inhabitation. During the following 162 plus years, many subsequent hurricanes have further cut into and eroded the Isle Dernière. Today, the remnants of “Last Island” (totaling less than 20% of its former land mass) consists of five small individual Islands that are only inhabited by various wildlife and nesting sea birds.

On a side note, given the very small radius of maximum wind (=/< 12 nm) and low estimated central pressure of 934 mb, it’s possible that the “Last Island Hurricane of 1856” may have even been of category-five intensity when it struck that portion of the Louisiana coast. Of course, there’s no way to truly know the exact strength of this catastrophic hurricane, since the tools we have today to better assess such storms, weren’t available way back then.
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Re: Hurricanes That Destroyed U.S. Towns:

#3 Postby ronyan » Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:33 am

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Re: Hurricanes That Destroyed U.S. Towns:

#4 Postby 1900hurricane » Fri Apr 05, 2019 6:45 pm

Indianola is the first one that jumped immediately to mind here too.
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Re: Hurricanes That Destroyed U.S. Towns:

#5 Postby ncforecaster89 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:39 pm

ronyan wrote:Indianola, TX 1886

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indianola,_Texas


That was the next one I was going to discuss. You beat me to it...lol

As 1900 noted, it's always been the one that first comes to mind when thinking of U.S. cities or towns wiped from the map by a devastating hurricane. Just chose to list them sequentially.
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Re: Hurricanes That Destroyed U.S. Towns:

#6 Postby ncforecaster89 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:37 am

6) Cheniere Caminada, La:

Historic Cheniere Caminada is no more!" Those were the words exclaimed by Father Grimeaux, the parish priest, when he shared his harrowing experience with a local newspaper reporter shortly after surviving the “Great October Storm of 1893!”

As evening and darkness settled over the village of Cheniere Caminada on 10/1/1893, it was home to roughly 1500 full-time residents. By break of dawn the following morning, more than half of the towns population was dead!

In less than 12 hours, the once thriving fishing and farming community...containing hundreds of homes, as well as a post office, church, and a resort hotel, was completely destroyed. The estimated category-four tempest delivered a reported storm surge exceeding 16’ that was responsible for the majority of deaths. Many others succumbed to the incredible force of the estimated 130 mph (115 kt) maximum sustained winds when their shelters of refuge abruptly collapsed and left them intumbed.

The survivors of the community, located just a few miles west of Grand Isle, abandoned the village, shortly thereafter; some of whom subsequently founded other towns in the surrounding areas.

In all, the “Cheniere Caminada Hurricane of 1893” was responsible for more than 2,000 fatalities, and remains one of the deadliest United States hurricanes in recorded history!

Here’s the full story of Father Grimeaux’s dramatic account, as printed in the 10/6/1893 edition of the Daily Picayune: http://files.usgwarchives.net/la/orlean ... 000501.txt
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