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Hurricane Hazel: A Whirlwind of Reform Reaction, Revolution, and Reform

Rachel Lensch Marianna Baggett Sarah Catherine Seawell

Senior Division Web Site Category


Process Paper When we were deciding on a topic, the idea of researching a hurricane seemed relevant to our

lives in many ways. Living on the coast, we have experienced and survived many hurricanes. Once we settled on the topic of a hurricane, we debated over which one we would choose to explore, keeping in mind this years National History Day topic. While Floyd, Diana, and Hugo were all viable options, 1954s Hurricane Hazel stood out for two main reasons. One, because of the severity of the category four storm; the devastation was catastrophic. People were not warned in advanced and they had no way advanced or reliable way to track the hurricane. And second, because the hurricane struck close to home, both literally and figuratively. Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the southern part of North Carolinas coast, destroying parts of the town we live in today. The physical devastation and tragic losses fueled a new national movement to increase awareness of hurricanes and severe weather. We formerly viewed Hurricane Hazel as a one of the many hurricanes of our states history, but we now know that its effect was much greater than earning a spot in a history book. Some of the most useful information came from printed primary and secondary sources found in our local Universitys library. The North Carolina Room in our towns public library provided us with old newspaper articles and documents that related to our topic. To learn more about the effect Hazel had on our local community, we visited the Cape Fear Museum, which had a file on Hurricane Hazel, and the Wrightsville Museum, which was centered around Hurricane Hazel. We stopped by the WECT News studios to interview and film meteorologist Colin Hackman, who knew all about Hazel and the change in weather technology that he has seen. We visited and interviewed Ioda Barnhill and herd from her about her memories of Hazel, as she was living on Wrightsville Beach when the storm hit. Residents at Pacifica Assisted Living remembered bits and pieces of the storm, which we included in our website. Finally, we interviewed Connie Ledgett, who gave us insight into her personal experience as a young adult surviving the storm while at the beach. We chose to present our project in the form of a website, because of how interactive websites generally are. Not only could we include more information, but we were able to select from and use a wide variety of mediums as components of our website. By including pictures, interview video clips,

primary sources, and textual information on our website, we were able to make the history of Hurricane Hazel and its effects as vivid as a personal memory. The damage of Hurricane Hazel changed the view of hurricanes and tempestuous weather for people all across America. The severity of the storm coupled with peoples lack of knowledge about the storm to highlight flaws in the system, initiating a national movement towards awareness and preparedness for hurricanes. Hazel forced a confrontation of problems in hurricane tracking, warning, and preparations. After Hazel, the government reformed hurricane related practices with funding for hurricane research, new safety precautions, radar use, and new, effective plans for evacuation. Hurricane Hazel triggered a reform of weather technology, and precipitated great changes that have revolutionized the weather safety techniques of today.

PRIMARY SOURCES Barnhill, Ioda. Personal interview. 17 Mar. 2012. Mrs. Barnhill survived Hurricane Hazel, and recalled her experience as a young mother in a vulnerable beach town. She remembered that the storm had been predicted to stay off the coast, and that after all of the damage was done, officials said that from there on out, everyone would have to evacuate for hurricanes.

Beach Damage. 1954. Photograph. Wrightsville Beach Museum. This photograph, found in the Wrightsville Beach Museum, shows some of the destruction along the beach after Hazel hit the coast.

Boats on Airlie Road. 1954. Photograph. Wrightsville Beach Museum. The photograph from the Wrightsville Beach Museum shows a pile of boats on Airlie Road after the hurricane blew them out of the water and onto the road.

Hackman, Colin. Personal interview. 8 Mar. 2012. Colin Hackman, a local meteorologist at WECT News, shared information on how hurricane forecasting and tracking technology has greatly improved since Hurricane Hazel struck in 1954, and he spoke with us about the weather technology that he uses today to forecast and predict weather. Colin Hackman also described the damage that Hurricane Hazel caused, and explained the basic level of forecasting and tracking technology that existed during Hazel. Hurricane Hazel damage at Wrightsville Beach. 1954. Photograph. Wrightsville Beach. This photograph in the Wrightsville Beach Museum shows the damage left behind after the storm.

Ledgett, Connie. Personal interview. 18 Mar. 2012. Connie Ledgett was seventeen and living at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina when Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the North Carolina coast. She recalled details of the storm, and the drastic changes in weather technology and hurricane tracking that she has seen since the storm.

Morton, Hugh. "Picture of the destruction at Carolina Beach." The State Oct. 1982: n. pag. Print. Mortons picture in The State newspaper displayed the destruction after Hurricane Hazel in Carolina Beach.

Needham, Harriet. Personal interview. 18 Mar. 2012. Mrs. Needham, a Hurricane Hazel survivor, remembered the storm, but more importantly, the changes builders made when building houses along the beach after Hazel.

North Carolina Hurricane Project. Raleigh: N.C. Council of Defense, 1955. Print. The forward in the book provides information on the reasons for the Council of Civil Defenses founding of the North Carolina Hurricane Project (NHRP) in 1955. The book also included a letter to the 1955 South Carolina governor, Luther H. Hodges, from the then director of the Council of Civil Defense, Edward F. Griffin, on the topic of the creation of a hurricane rehabilitation project.

"No. 101 Hurricane Hazel." Hurricane History. Wilmington Public Radio. WHQR, Wilmington, 19 Sept. 1988. Print. Transcript. This transcript of a a personal account shows how life continued as normal, even with the announcement of a hurricane. The account explains the few hurricane preparations that took place.

"Picture of Destruction in Southport." Star News 2004: n. pag. Print. The picture, in an old edition of the Star News, shows pieces of the Southport waterfront scattered along Bay Street after the storm.

"Picture of Hurricane Hazel destruction." Port Pilot 2 Oct. 1983: n. pag. Print. The picture in Port Pilot Newspaper shows an image taken of the destruction Hurricane Hazel caused in Southport, North Carolina.

St. Therese Catholic Church. 1954. Photograph. Wrightsville Beach Museum. This photograph, from the collection in the Wrightsville Beach Museum, shows the damage that Hurricane Hazel did to the St. Therese Catholic Church in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

SECONDARY SOURCES Barnes, Jay. North Carolina's Hurricane History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,

1995. Print. This book provided us with information about the destruction of the storm and early warning techniques used to inform citizens.

Cantwell, Si. "The Faces of Hazel." Star News 10 Oct. 2004: B1. Print. This article is explaining the revolution of hurricane technology after the distraction of Hazel. It shows how hurricane Hazel set the bar for hurricanes to come. Other hurricanes have now been compared to Hazel due to her mass destruction.

Dorst, Neal. "Hurricane Research Division ." Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Library .N.p., 26 May 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. We used the picture of the National Hurricane Research Project logo from this article.

Eisenhower, Dwight D.,: Annual Budget Message to the Congress for Fiscal Year 1957. January 16, 1956. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. 1999-2012. Web. 10 March 2012. This document shows that Eisenhower and the Federal Government were serious about the need for new research and the creation of the Weather Bureau which is still used today.

Elsner, James B., and A. Birol Kara. Hurricane of the North Atlantic. New York City: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print. Elsner and Karas book explained the early hurricane-detecting radar systems. The book also provided information about the ways hurricanes were tracked in the first half of the 20th century, and the way people treated any warning of a hurricane. "Hurricane Research Division: History." Atlantic Oceanography and Meteorology Laboratory. NOAA, 2006. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. <http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hrd_sub/beginning. html>. This article on the Atlantic Oceanography and Meteorology Laboratory website provided information about the National Hurricane Research Project, and the grounds on which the organization was founded.

Hurricane Symposium October 10-11, 1966, Houston, Texas. Houston: American Society for Oceanography, 1966. Print. This book written by the American Oceanography provided us with most of our information on the National Hurricane Research Project. It also provided us with information the National Hurricane Research Lab and with information about the reason for the path of Hazel.

Pielke, Roger A., and Roger A. Pielke. Hurricanes: Their Nature and Impacts on Society. Chichester York: Vintage, 2001. Print. Pielkes book presents the same thesis as our project. Hurricane technology was revolutionized following Hazel.

Riehl, Herbert. Tropical Meteorology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1954. Print. Riehls book provided us with information on forecasting methods before Hazel.

Sheets, Bob, and Jack Williams. Hurricane Watch: Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth. New York: Vintage, 2001. Print. Bob Sheets and Jack Williamss book included information on the innovations in weather and hurricane related organizations. The book also gave detailed explanations of the true meaning behind some of the steps in weather technology, such as the installation of a radar at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1955.

Siepert, S. Daniel. "Hurricane Hazel." www.ecu.edu. RENCI at East Carolina University, 23 Nov. 2010. Web. 11 Mar. 2012. <http://www.ecu.edu/renci/StormsToLife/Hazel/index.html>. East Carolinas website covers most all aspects over Hurricane Hazel, and the devestation that it caused. The website provided information on the damages Hazel caused, as well as information on how people were affected by the storm.

Strickler, Michael, Douglas Schneider, and Johnathan Bleas. "Hurricane Hazel, October 1954." www.ncsu.edu. NC State University, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2012. <http://www4.ncsu.edu/~nwsfo/storage/cases/19541015/>. The University of North Carolina States website provided an image that displayed, in detail,

the path of Hurricane Hazel. The website also included the statistics of the number of deaths, and injuries, the number of buildings and homes destroyed and damaged, and the then dollar amount of property damage the storm caused.

Thibodeaux, Debi Joy. "Giant storm of 1954 proved second worst in U.S. history." Star News 2004: n. pag. Print. This article describes the horrific damage that Hazel caused making it one of the worst storms in history. It also shows how meteorologists during the time were not as prepared for Hazels erratic behavior as it moved away from already planned track.

Vance, Merton. "Hurricane witness hopes he never sees another like Hazel." Star News 14 Oct. 1984: 1F. Print. In this article, Vance explains how hurricane technology was not advanced enough to track or make needed preparations.

Williams, Jack. The Weather Book. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. Print. Williams book provided information on the topic of early weather technology, and the early methods of tracking storms and hurricanes.