September 19, 1947
Panicked citizens of Louisiana's low-lying shore, woken by a 1:15am weather advisory warning that a 140mph hurricane might reach the mouth of the Mississippi by early afternoon, frantically sought to flee into the New Orleans tonight even as the river's waters, driven by rising wind and tide, sloshed over the city's vaunted levy system. A huge shelter with 800 beds awaited the escapees inside the Municipal Auditorium.
New Orleaneans hold great pride and confidence in their river levy system, but it has never before been tested by a strong hurricane. The levies were built in response to the devastating storm of 1915.
Severe damage has already been felt throughout southern Florida, with an estimated $25,000,000 loss to the citrus industry and 188 buildings destroyed in Ft. Lauderdale. Also threatened by the storm are Biloxi, Gulfport and other important tidal towns.
Recommended reading: Herbert "Gangs of New York" Asbury's The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld