Coastal, NC Hurricane CONNIE Strikes Coast, Aug 1955
CONNIE MOVES ACROSS EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA PICKING UP SPEED; LEAVES TREMENDOUS DAMAGE.
MOVES INLAND AT MOREHEAD CITY; HEADED FOR WASHINGTON AT 12 MPH.
Washington (AP) -- The Weather Bureau here reported today that Hurricane Connie moved inland at Morehead City, N. C., and is moving northward at 12 miles an hour.
The hurricane was about 270 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Wilmington, N. C. (AP) -- Hurricane Connie, pounding the North Carolina coast with destructive 100-mile winds and high seas, again became a threat to the rest of the eastern seaboard today.
The big tropical storm speeded up on a course along the North Carolina coast leading to the open ocean where her force could be maintained. Hurricanes usually lose their force in crossing land and Connie appeared headed landward yesterday. The east coast had been under hurricane alerts for three days while Connie floundered offshore. The alert was lifted late yesterday.
The Weather Bureau today extended hurricane warnings on up the coast from the Virginia Capes to the Delaware Breakwater and northeast storm warnings all the way to Provincetown, Mass.
The hurricane flags still flew as far south as Myrtle Beach, S. C., but further danger from wind appeared past south of the North Carolina border.
At 7 a.m. EST, Connie was centered about 35 miles south of Morehead City, N. C., and was moving north-northeastward (a little east of north) at about 12 miles an hour.
Connie's peak winds of 100 miles an hour were mostly in squalls 40 to 60 miles from the center. Hurricane winds -- 75 miles or more -- fanned out 120 miles north and east and 60 miles southwest. Gales reached 300 miles to the northeast and 150 to the southwest.
Meanwhile the season's fourth tropical storm -- named Diane -- was centered 520 miles south-southeast (more south than east) of Bermuda early today. Diane had cener winds of 60 miles an hour as she moved northwest at 11 miles an hour in much the same path Connie took several days earlier.
Diane was expected to become a full hurricane latr[sic] today.
Connie's center winds have been up to 135 miles but they diminished somewhat as she neared the coast.
Tides ran up to eight feet above normal ahead of Connie's eye.
Cape Hatteras, a lonely outpost on North Carolina's Outer Banks which is a frequent port of call on the hurricane path from the Caribbean braced for arrival of Connie's center about noon.
The Carolina coast was pounded steadily from late yesterday afternoon all through the night as the big storm loafed along.
Towering waves smashed fishing piers, and dwellings and other shore installations, many of them newly rebuilt since Hazels visit last year.
No casualties had been reported.
Coastal residents had plenty of warning during the days Connie had remained almost stationary off the coast. The vast majority of moved to safety inland. But some were marooned and rescue efforts went on through the night and today.
Nobody made any estimate of damage. Many beach communities and fishing villages were isolated. The damage continued to pile up.
Evacuees by the thousands crowded into schools, churches and other sturdy concrete buildings from Morehead City to Charleston, S. C.
There was an easing of tension farther north along the Atlantic Seaboard as hurricane warnings were lowered, the threat of Connie either diminished or gone entirely. The hurricane alert of the last three days was lifted from the Delaware breakwater north late yesterday.
The greatest danger continued along the North Carolina and Virginia coasts.
All warnings were lowered from Myrtle Beach, S. C., southward at 2 a.m.
Falling power lines forced many hospitals to turn to auxiliary power. Radio stations in many places were off the air.
At New Bern, N. C., well inland, heavy rains flooded bridges over the Trent and Neuse rivers, closing U. S. Higlway 17, the main coastal route from Miami to New York, and the main road to the big Marine air station at Cherry Point.
National Guard trucks evacuated more than 2,000 persons in New Bern from homes near the water front to higher ground.
It was a common sight to see parents standing in shoulder deep water, holding their children over their heads waiting for the guardsmen to come and get them.
Thousands of residents left the city by the highway westward toward Kinston, the only route still open.
Gov. Luther Hodges ordered the National Guard unit at Washington, N. C. to duty to assist in evacuation of 1,000 refugees from the rapidly rising Pamlico River. Other Guard units were called out to prevent looting.
Hodges, who left the Governors Conference in Chicago to fly home when the hurricane appeared imminent, personally directed operations against the storm after a tour of the beach.
Atlantic Beach, near Morehead City, reported highest winds, up to 100 m.p.h. last night. Wilmington had winds of 83 miles. In other places along the beaches, gusts above 75 miles were reported.
Heaviest damage was caused by a combination of high winds and high tides. Some points reported waves 25 to 35 feet.
Myrtle Beach, hard hit by Hazel last year, escaped with but little damage, although higher tides than usual were reported. At Garden City, S. C., south of Myrtle Beach, the new fishing pier was partially destroyed. It had been built to replace one swept away by Hazel.
At Southport, N. C., 80-year-old MRS. JESSIE TAYLOR, a U. S. weather observer, staunchly refused to leave her post.
"There was nothing heroic about my refusal to leave," she said, "I'm just plain stubborn."
The power supply at Wilmington went out at 8 p.m. last night. Telephone lines were unaffected.
Southport was without municipal power most of yesterday and last night.
Breakers 25 to 30 feet high smashed at the island of Salter Path, where 150 residents were evacuated Wednesday by the Marine Corps.
New Bern was without electric power. The town's two hospitals were operating on auxiliary units.
Radio Station WOOW remained on the air too despite winds which reached 70 m.p.h.
At Cherry Point Marine Air Station gusts of 90 miles an hour were reported. No damage was done to permanent installations at the base. Some 175 refugees from communities closer to the coast were housed in the station theater. Another 300 were sheltered in the new Graham A. Barden School near the base.
In New Bern it was high water rather than wind that caused the greatest trouble. Homes close to the waterfront had as much as six feet of water in their front yards. Cars left standing in the streets were almost submerged. Only their tops visible.
A similar situation was reported at Bridgeton where the Neuse River flooded the streets and some dwellings.
Effects of the hurricane were felt as far inland as Charlotte and Asheville. In Charlotte the Weather Bureau reported winds of 23 m.p.h. with gusts reaching 45 m.p.h. Rain squalls also hit the city.
At Asheville the Weather Bureau said the threat of heavy rain and gusty northerly to westerly winds would continue to affect Rutherford, Caldwell, Burke, Wilkes, McDowell and Polk counties.
The storm also cancelled the appearance of Miss Virginia, BETTY MATTHEWS of Norfolk, at the "The Lost Colony" drama on the Outer Banks.
At Rodanthe on Hatteras Island a three-day celebration honoring members of the Old U.S. Life Saving Service and the present Coast Guard was postponed for two weeks.
The State highway Patrol said that only about 85 persons out of the normal summer population of 1,000 remained at Kure Beach, south of Wrightsville Beach.
The Red Cross had set up 70 shelters at key points along the coast. Sixteen were at Wilmington. Each station was staffed with a nurse and was capable of providing 1,000 persons with food, clothing and shelter.
Civil Defense headquarters in Raleigh reported that Civil Air Patrol mobile generators were supplying power for Washington's two hospitals.
The CAP also said it has 50 mobile two-way radio units in the coastal area from Wilmington northward, manned by 75 to 100 communications men.
About 100 additional CAP communications workers with mobile units were on a standby basis at Greensboro and Kinston.
Reports from New Bern later in the morning said the situation there was much improved, although some dwellings along the Neuse River still were vacated.
Bridges across the Neuse and Trent rivers, which converge at New Bern, were opened to traffic this morning.
Most public services in New Bern were operating on emergency power.
TASK OF TOTALING CONNIE'S DAMAGE BEGINS ON COAST.
By The Associated Press.
The North Carolina coast, ravaged by Hurricane Hazel and still not completely restored, had the grim task today of assessing the havoc wrought by Hurricane Connie.
Connie's furious winds and raging seas spread destruction along a wide path from the South Carolina border north toward Cape Hatteras, Fishing piers, beachfront housing and businesses, and public facilities took a staggering blow.
Nobody had made any estimate of damage. But as the storm loafed along from the South Carolina border northward, damage continued to pile up.
Virtually all the beaches along the coast reported losses -- some more extensive than others.
At Topsail Beach, 30 miles north of Wilmington, five dwellings were unroofed and another was carried out to sea.
At Southport, south of Wilmington, the city dock was damaged. HARRY SELL, a ham radio operator, said roofs had blown off several dwellings.
At Atlantic Beach, near Morehead City, the police chief and one of his men -- the last two to leave the area -- reported seven cottages demolished.
The steel pier at Emerald Isle, also near Morehead City, was heavily damaged. Also taken away by high breakers were the piers at Camp Morehead for boys and at several fishing camps.
At New Bern damage came mainly from flood waters of the Neuse River. Homes near the waterfront were reported flooded and automobiles left in the streets were submerged but for their tops. The city was without power and many telephone lines were down.
The Cherry Point Marine Air Station reported only minor damage to shrubbery and trees. There as no damage to permanent buildings.
At Kure Beach a fishing pier was swept away. Dwellings thre were reported to be undermined. Some had collapsed.
A large section of the fisherman's steel pier at Carolina Beach also was reported destroyed.
Chief State Highway Engineer W. H. ROGERS said at least 100 feet of Oregon Inlet had been washed out.
At Long and Holden beaches several dwellings were reported unroofed.
Gov. HODGES heard reports of damage from officials of coastal communities. He said he was "very concerned."
HODGES assured property owners that the state would "back them just as it did after the last storm."
HODGES met with officials last night after an inspection tour of Wrightsville Beach.
At Tarboro, the Carolina Telephone & Telegraph Co. reported that communications were interrupted at Tabor City, Topsail Island, Marshallburg, Atlantic and Oriental. The company said some of its long distance lines between Morehead City and New Bern were down well before the center of the storm approached.
No one except policemen and firemen were allowed on Wrightsville Beach after the storm passed and the extent of damage could not be learned immediately.
Carolina Beach also was off limits even to residents, until the National Guard could move in to prevent any looting.
There was considerable damage at Carolina Beach, especially in the amusement section. The boardwalk was smashed. Debris and sand covered side streets and one immediately behind the ocean front. About half of the $75,000 Fisherman's Steel Pier at Carolina Beach was destroyed. Another pier there and on south of Carolina Beach seemed, at a distance, to be relatively intact.
Only about 100 feet on the landward side of the Kure fishing pier remained.
Waterfront cottages at Carolina Beach apparently escaped major damage such as that from Hazel. Some large masonry structures in the amusement area were undermined by pounding surf. Their foundations settled on the seaward side and the walls buckled and cracked.
BEN BEST, a Carolina Beach fireman, said there was less damage and less debris and sand in the streets than after Hazel. His home is on 3rd St. The water didn't reach there this time, but during Hazel was well past his home.
At the City Hall early today a pretty stenographer and a janitor swept water and mud out of the building. Records and office equipment had been stacked up on chairs above the 18 inches of seawater that flooded into the building. The water was about a foot deeper than that during Hazel.
Water across the road blocked passage from Carolina to Kure Beach at midmorning.
Major damage at Wilmington seemed confined to roofs trees, power lines, and poles, and plate glass windows.
The Robesonian Lumberton North Carolina 1955-08-12
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!