Hurricane Audrey’s latest movements were fresh on the minds of families in Cameron, Louisiana, before bedtime on June 26, 1957, according to AccuWeater.com. Broadcasters that evening announced that the storm, that had strengthened into a Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico the day before, would make landfall at the Texas and Louisiana border late the next day. In a time before satellites, meteorologists relied on aircraft reconnaissance, ship reports and minimal radar to monitor the storm’s whereabouts. The United States Weather Bureau’s 10 p.m. report placed Audrey 235 miles south of Lake Charles, a Louisiana town 52 miles inland. The advisory warned that those living in low exposed areas should move to higher ground as the storm crept northward toward the coast at 10 mph. Assuming that they had ample time to escape Audrey’s impact, Cameron residents had packed their vehicles in preparation for an early morning evacuation. In its final six hours before landfall, a strong flow in the Jetstream dropped southward and helped the intensifying hurricane rapidly accelerate as it barreled toward the southern U.S. and by 1am its winds had increased to more than 150 mph. By that time, however, broadcasters had gone off the air and residents were fast asleep. Audrey came ashore and pounded the southern U.S. coast and destroyed coastal communities with intense winds and flooding. People woke up around 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning with 6 feet of water coming into their houses. About 1,000 people made it safely into Cameron’s three-story courthouse. However, those unable to escape the powerful hurricane drowned in Gulf waters pushed inland by a storm surge of at least 12 feet. Audrey, was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the month of June, and killed at least 500 people and caused an estimated $150 million in damage in the U.S. It was the 7th deadliest hurricane in modern history. The storm’s impact and intense storm surge were felt 25 miles inland, many of the victims were never found.
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