Publish date:
Updated on

Hurricane submerges Louisiana resort

A hurricane hits the Louisiana coast, killing more than 400 people, on this day in 1856. Isle Derniere, a resort community, was totally submerged by the storm surges.

This hurricane, which came before scientists began naming big storms, probably formed in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and moved northwest toward the Alabama coast. At that point, it veered due west and just missed a direct hit on Mobile, Alabama. Instead, the storm headed right for the mouth of the Mississippi River and devastated the Louisiana coast. Written reports of the storm describe it as the worst that anyone at the time could remember.

The worst-hit place was Isle Derniere (Last Island), a resort for Southern aristocrats near the Terrebonne Parish. The storm first brought blinding and torrential rain, which, when combined with strong winds, felt like daggers to the people on the ground. Next, storm surges carried water from Lake Pelto onto the small island from the north. Then, a tidal wave of water from the south devastated the residents. Reportedly, upwards of 150 people were carried off with the wave, with some bodies ending up six miles away. The only survivors from Last Island were those who were able to make it to a steamship moored on the island’s shores. Every building and home on the island was submerged under water for days after the storm.

Also hard hit was nearby Bayou LaFourche, where a mysterious sea creature was rumored to have come ashore due to the hurricane.

Although it avoided a direct hit on the Louisiana coast, the same area was further damaged less than a month later by another hurricane.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Jonesboro schoolyard shooters guilty

In Jonesboro, Arkansas, Mitchell Johnson pleads guilty to the Jonesboro schoolyard massacre on his 14th birthday, and Andrew Golden, age 12, is convicted. Both boys had been charged with five counts of murder and 10 counts of battery for the March 24 shooting that left four more

Watts Riot begins

In the predominantly black Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, racial tension reaches a breaking point after two white policemen scuffle with a black motorist suspected of drunken driving. A crowd of spectators gathered near the corner of Avalon Boulevard and 116th Street to watch more

Hussein succeeds to Jordanian throne

Prince Hussein is proclaimed the king of Jordan after his father, King Talal, is declared unfit to rule by the Jordanian Parliament on grounds of mental illness. Hussein was formally crowned on November 14, 1953, his 18th birthday. Hussein was the third constitutional king of more

Federal prisoners land on Alcatraz

A group of federal prisoners classified as “most dangerous” arrives at Alcatraz Island, a 22-acre rocky outcrop situated 1.5 miles offshore in San Francisco Bay. The convicts–the first civilian prisoners to be housed in the new high-security penitentiary–joined a few dozen more

Germans begin to evacuate Sicily

On this day in 1943, German forces begin a six-day evacuation of the Italian island of Sicily, having been beaten back by the Allies, who invaded the island in July. The Germans had maintained a presence in Sicily since the earliest days of the war. But with the arrival of Gen. more

Major leaguers walk off the job

On August 11, 1994, the longest work stoppage in major league history begins. Because of the strike, the 1994 World Series was cancelled; it was the first time baseball did not crown a champion in 89 years. During the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, tensions more

Reagan jokes about bombing Russia

On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan makes a joking but controversial off-the-cuff remark about bombing Russia while testing a microphone before a scheduled radio address. While warming up for the speech, Reagan said “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today more

Meriwether Lewis is shot in the leg

While hunting for elk along the Missouri River, Meriwether Lewis is shot in the hip, probably by one of his own men. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had embarked on their epic journey to the Pacific two years earlier. The 33 members of the Corps of Discovery had experienced more