September Hurricanes, then & now

It’s mid-September, 2018. Florence, Issac, Helene, and possibly Joyce are dancing around in the Atlantic. Just last week, Gordon blew ashore over Pascagoula and Mobile. One other stray concept – mentioned in an earlier entry – is that our TriCentennial can legitimately be placed any where between 1717 and 1722.

So lets review our “first time”. By 1722, our little hamlet consisted of maybe a few dozen huts and two or three “buildings” that is stores and officer’s quarters, etc. On Sept. 11th or 28th, the cyclone hit. (reminder, during this time frame, France and England – and their colonies – were on opposite sides of the Julian vs. Gregorian calendar “conflict”).

“The wind raged for fifteen hours, and destroyed the huts serving as church and rectory; at the hospital, a few patients were injured.

Bayou St. John rose three feet, the Mississippi rose nearly eight feet, and the powder was just saved in time by being transferred to a dove-cote “which M. le Commandant had built so as to afford himself a few luxuries.”

This “disaster,” did not disturb La Tour (the engineer sent to build the new capital) to any great degree. “All these buildings,” he says, “were temporary and old, not a single one was in the alignment of the new town, and they were to have been pulled down. Little harm would have been done, if only we had had shelters for everybody.”

The damage caused by the hurricane — thirty-four huts destroyed . . .

Nevertheless, the hurricane had some disastrous consequences. The entire flotilla of the capital was put out of commission; the Santo-Christo and the Neptune, ships of twelve cannon each, went aground; the passage-boat Abeille, which had arrived in August, 1721, and Le Cher foundered in the Mississippi, the Aventurier was more fortunate; it had raised anchor a few hours before the cyclone bore down, and was able to resume its voyage after getting some repairs. . . .

Many flat boats, notably the Postilion, belonging to the Sieur Dumanoir, and a number of pirogues, sank with their loads of grain and fowls and other produce. Then a month of torrential rainfalls destroyed the last crops and reduced the new city to a state of famine. Next year, the price of eggs rose” . . . to ridiculous levels. 1723 was indeed one of those years of “starvation and woe”. But it got better.–new_orleans_founding.html Accessed 9/10/2018

In our times, we have heard much about the resilience of the citizens of the Gulf Coast. No doubt in the next few weeks we will hear about the resilience of the folks in the Carolinas. In fact, if I hear about resilience or “dodging the bullet” much more I may lose it all one day. Let’s face it, if one chooses to live on the coast from Chesapeake Bay to the mouth of the Rio Grande and beyond, resilience is only a small part of the equation. We choose to live here for the quality of life, the climate (before it changes too much), and don’t forget the seafood😀

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About Jerry Laiche

Jon (Jerry) Laiche, B.A., M.A. is a  working historian, writer, and co-author of “1718: The Petticoat Rebellion Cookbook.”  He is a twenty-year veteran teacher and scholar, having taught courses in Louisiana, American, and World History, and is a member of the Historic New Orleans Collection. In addition to his background as an historian, he has taught Religion in the High Schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and was adjunct professor of Computer Ethics and Internet Technology at Tulane University.  In addition to his academic duties, Jerry has served his schools as a technology coordinator, network administrator, librarian, and Internet guru.  During his teaching tenure, Jerry also was the recipient of two grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.  The grants enabled his school to establish the first High School Women’s Studies program in New Orleans.  He was the founding Director of the Archdiocesan Teacher Learning Center (Computers in the Classroom).  For three years, he owned and operated “The Philosopher’s Stone” a bookstore on the Northshore specializing in rare and antiquarian volumes.  With his smart and beautiful wife, Beth, he currently coordinates the “1718 Project” to commemorate the 2018 New Orleans Tri-Centennial.  He and his life partner currently live at Beltane Grove, one acre and a cottage, 30 miles north of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain. (Rev. Samhain: Oct. 31, 2018) Home Office: (985) 795-2372 Primum est Edare, diendi Philosophari