Looking back at Hurricane Audrey: 60-year anniversary - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Looking back at Hurricane Audrey: 60-year anniversary

(SOURCE: KPLC) (SOURCE: KPLC)
CAMERON, LA (KPLC) -

It's estimated between 400 and 500 people perished in Hurricane Audrey, which crept ashore earlier than expected - about 3 a.m. - on June 27, 1957. 

It was a loss and heartbreak unimaginable for so many. 

The late Rodney Guilbeaux lost seven family members, including his mother.

 "At a quarter to seven a humongous wave hit.  They could see it coming," he said in an interview around the year 2000.  "They knew that that was the end. They said good-bye. They said an act of contrition. The wave was over the high lines, the electric high lines which put it in the vicinity of fifty feet or so.  When it hit the house, the house exploded."

For decades, Guilbeaux told the story of Hurricane Audrey. His purpose: to make sure all heard the message, heed storm warnings and leave when needed.

"Nature is so powerful. Water is a powerful force. You need to be prepared for hurricanes and be ready to leave," said his daughter, Analee Guilbeaux Dupuie.

Guilbeaux's daughter Analee was only seven when Audrey hit.  She's grateful to have spent time with her grandma and other family who would soon die in the hurricane.

"I was with them actually the week before and got very homesick.  So my parents picked me up Sunday.  I was with them during the hurricane, so grateful my life was spared," she said.

And she says her dad, Rodney, always told the story of her grandfather, the only one of 10 people in the house on Hwy. 82 who lived.

"He was the only one to survive and he actually survived by floating on a dead cow," said Analee.

And even as Rodney grew older and weak from health issues, he never wavered when it came to telling the story of Audrey.

"Get out and get out now while you can. Because if you wait, you may not have a chance to get out.  My mother was found 38 miles from her house," he said in our last interview in 2007.  Guilbeaux died September 19, 2007.

With modern communications and forecasting, it's unlikely a tragedy such as Audrey will happen again - at least here - in part because the story of those who lost so much continues to be passed from one generation to the next.  

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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