The Atlantic

Families Are Getting Better at Preparing for Hurricanes

For many parents, ensuring that the kids are out of harm’s way is only half the battle.
Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Alton Davis’s parents didn’t tell him much about the coming hurricane before they took shelter. All he knew was that the storm “might be dangerous,” so the family drove from their little house in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie uptown to Davis’s grandparents’ house near Audubon Park. It was a sturdy old building made of brick and stucco, Davis, now an architect, recalls. He’d been ordered to stay in the middle of the house and away from the windows.

It was 1965, and Davis’s parents didn’t know much about the coming storm themselves: No one did. “We didn’t have storm trackers or any of that stuff,” he says. “We just knew there was a hurricane coming. I don’t think people had any idea what the damage could be.”

On September 10, Davis, then 10 years old, rode out Hurricane Betsy while wrapped in a blanket and huddled together with his family in the center hallway of the house. Gallon jugs of drinking water were stationed nearby as they all listened to the wind whistle through the double doors. His little brother cried in his parents’ arms. “They hunkered down and just held us, kept us warm,” he remembers. Then, suddenly, the whistling stopped, and Davis’s father announced they were going outside.

“It was beautiful. Blue, sunny skies,” Davis tells me. “There or hurricane when it made landfall in Louisiana.

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