Charging into the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Ike on Wednesday looked bound for the south coast of Texas, well away from a Southeast Texas landfall.
But 47 years ago, a storm with a similar track proved a landfall hundreds of miles away still could be devastating locally.
Hurricane Carla struck the Texas coast as a Category 4 storm Sept. 11, 1961.
Like Ike, Carla once aimed directly for Southeast Texas, before its path jogged south.
A day before it hit, Carla was forecast to land between Aransas Pass and Matagorda, almost 300 miles from Beaumont.
By early the next morning, Carla-s path had jumped about 75 miles to the north, bringing the swirling monster on shore between Port O-Connor and Port Lavaca. As of late Wednesday, Ike was projected to hit that same spot, about 175 miles from Beaumont.
The last-minute wobble was enough to stretch Carla-s carnage to Southeast Texas.
The U.S. Coast Guard station at Sabine Pass reported 85 mph winds, gusting up to 110 mph.
Storm surge and rainfall combined for widespread, large-scale flooding.
In Jefferson County, Carla-s winds reached 75 mph, the benchmark for hurricane strength, toppling trees and bringing down power lines. The storm tore down signs and blew out windows.
Near the coast, the Gilchrist and Caplen beach communities were devastated. Homes were demolished. Roads were washed out.
Enterprise reports described horizontal rain in Port Arthur. Storm surge left Seawall Boulevard, fronting the ship channel, beneath 2 feet of water when the seawall itself suffered a 40-foot break. The city, however, largely escaped flooding and wind damage suffered elsewhere in the region.
A dam failed southwest of Texas 73 near Taylor Bayou, leading to flooding in Port Acres and Groves. Four feet of water covered Texas 87 near the Rainbow Bridge.
With water rising across the region, frequent reports came in of snakes in unusual places, presumably seeking higher, drier ground.
In Galveston, a hurricane-launched tornado struck the county courthouse where 1,200 refugees were sheltered. The twister was blamed for six deaths.
Carla-s immediate fallout extended even farther, 340 miles from landfall, to Kaplan, La., where a tornado took the life of a 4-week-old child and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Despite a forecast landfall hundreds of miles from Southeast Texas, leaders here organized a massive evacuation, credited with mitigating loss of life from the storm.
It was estimated that as many as 500,000 people fled the storm. Reports in The Enterprise archives described the effort as “the greatest evacuation in the face of a national calamity in modern times.”
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