Hurricane Carla began as a tropical storm, blowing through the West Indies over Labor Day weekend in 1961. The storm quickly strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane, however, becoming the most intense hurricane to strike Texas since the Indianola Hurricane of 1886. While it lessened to a Category 4 before making landfall, Carla devastated the Port Lavaca-Port O’Connor area on September 11, 1961. Over half a million residents were evacuated as the hurricane’s 11-foot surge and 150-mph winds were felt as far inland as Dallas. The storm caused two tornadoes to strike Galveston on September 12, as 60,000 residents took shelter behind the town’s seawall. The total insured property damage from Carla was set at $408 million by the American Insurance Association, making it one of the most expensive disasters in Texas history.
Young news anchor Dan Rather, reporting from the Galveston Seawall, made the first live broadcast during a hurricane. He was also the first to broadcast a radar image of a hurricane, possibly saving thousands of lives in the process. Despite the intensity of the storm, only 46 people died.