Hurricane Audrey: Rodney Guilbeaux's family tragedy

Published: Jun. 26, 2007 at 6:50 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2007 at 2:42 AM CDT
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June 26, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt

On this eve of the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Audrey we visit one who lost nearly his entire family in the storm. KPLC's Theresa Schmidt talks to Rodney Guilbeaux whose message aims to prevent such loss of life ever again.

Rodney Guilbeaux has never stopped telling his own heartbreaking story of Hurricane Audrey and the terrible loss it brought for him personally. Only his father survived. "At a quarter to seven a humongous wave hit. They could see it coming. They knew 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. "

Now, eighty years old, health problems have taken their toll. Yet, Rodney still tells of his family's desperate fight for survival. His brother in-law broke the news to the others of their terrible predicament.  Rodney recounts his words: "'We cannot get out. We're trapped.' So they started piling stuff up inside the house higher and higher, but in no time at all water was in the house and water was coming up, coming up, coming up."

With greatly improved weather technology, it's doubtful inadequate warning would ever cause such tragedy. Yet, Guilbeaux says people must understand their lives depend on leaving when a hurricane threatens.  "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."

On this fiftieth anniversary of Audrey, Guilbeaux can't help but remember the day that so changed the lives and legacy of people in Cameron parish-- People who take pride in the culture and resilience born of suffering and loss few others have known.

Cameron Parish commemorates the anniversary of Hurricane Audrey with a special program starting at ten tomorrow morning in the courthouse square. As well from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. there will be special exhibits including old film footage and survivors there to tell their stories.