NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Saturday marks the 58th anniversary of one of the most destructive hurricanes in American history, Hurricane Betsy. 

On September 9, 1965, the catastrophic storm made landfall in Louisiana, leaving a trail of destruction, loss of life, and economic impact that is still remembered and felt today. 

Hurricane Betsy, a Category 4 hurricane, approached the Gulf of Mexico with alarming strength. The storm made landfall near Grand Isle, Louisiana, with winds of up to 155 miles per hour. The storm surge reached unprecedented levels, inundating large portions of New Orleans and surrounding areas. 

The devastation was immense, with over 75,000 homes damaged or destroyed. The floodwaters left in its wake forced tens of thousands of residents to evacuate their homes.

Flooding in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Betsy. (NOAA Image)

Tragically, Hurricane Betsy claimed the lives of 76 people and left hundreds injured, making it one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the United States at the time. 

The financial impact of Hurricane Betsy was staggering, and the extensive destruction to infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and power lines, compounded the region’s economic woes. 

The storm caused an estimated $1.42 billion in damages in 1965 dollars, which is equivalent to roughly $12 billion in today’s currency when adjusted for inflation. 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Betsy, significant efforts were made to improve disaster preparedness and response in the Gulf Coast region. The federal government and local authorities initiated flood control projects, which eventually led to the construction of the greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System.

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