||Veteran WRAL News Anchor Charlie Gaddy Takes Viewers Back To A Devastating Day In North Carolina’s Hurricane History
Hurricane Hazel hit the North Carolina Coast in 1954, leaving a path of devastation.
On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel delivered a devastating blow to North Carolina. It was the only category four hurricane to hit the state in the 20th century and by most measures was the worst. It carved a broad path of destruction from the Caribbean to Canada, becoming one of the deadliest and costliest storms in the history of our state and nation.
WRAL News goes back to that fateful day with veteran WRAL News anchor Charlie Gaddy in a new 30-minute documentary. “Hazel” airs Wednesday, September 8 at 7:30pm on WRAL-TV.
Hazel hit the North Carolina coast on a high lunar tide with winds up to 140 miles per hour. It created an 18-foot storm surge on the state’s southeastern beaches. The combination of wind, storm surge and flooding proved deadly, killing 19 people and injuring 200 more. The damage to property by today’s standards would be nearly $10 billion.
Charlie Gaddy revisits that day with harrowing stories from Hazel survivors still living in North Carolina, including a couple that rode out the storm surge on top of a mattress. The documentary includes never before seen film footage of the storm, rare photographs of its aftermath and a recording of a 1954 radio report by one of the first news reporters to view the damage.
Interviews with a hurricane historian and a meteorologist from the National Weather Service recount the difficulty in tracking and forecasting Hazel in 1954 and offer comparisons to today. Through those interviews and others, the documentary examines the questions: What impact would a storm like Hazel have today and are we better prepared now than we were then?
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Cindy Sink for this capcom story.