Residents of coastal Louisiana are marking the 130th anniversary of a monster Hurricane in 1893 that wiped out the community of Cheniere Caminada. The unnamed category 4 hurricane is considered one of the deadliest in Louisiana history.
a killer hurricane
A small cemetery stands along Louisiana Highway 1 near Grand Isle. A dead oak tree, sinking ground, and the crumbling brick graves are a fading memorial to a killer hurricane. “We lost more people in that storm than any storm that ever hit Louisia,” explains Windell Curole. Curole, the area’s former levee district manager, is also a descendant of families who survived the Cheniere Caminada Hurricane. “Seven out of my eight grandparents lived here, and they all survived the storm,” Curole says. In fact, his grandfather was born only months before the 1893 hurricane and was one of the few babies to survive. Curole notes that the greatest percentage of lives lost was among the children.
1893 cheniere caminada hurricane featured on tv
John Doucet, a biology professor at nearby Nicholls State University, says his great great grandfather’s family was trapped in their home during the hurricane. “When the walls imploded and the roof fell, it ended up on the high part of the island,” Doucet explains. He added, “and underneath that triangular structure is where everybody survived.”
town swept away by massive storm surge
According to The National Hurricane Center’s Research Division, the October 1893 hurricane swept ashore with an 18-foot storm surge. 779 of the town’s 1471 residents died. Over the course of the storm it killed more than 2,000 people. After making landfall at Cheniere Caminada on the southeast coast of Louisiana, the hurricane moved across the Mississippi River delta, southern Mississippi and Alabama.
a survivor of the cheniere caminada hurricane
One of the handful of houses that survived the 1893 Cheniere Caminada Hurricane was the Curole house. Survivors abandoned their coastal village and moved further inland. The home of the Curole family was taken apart, put on a wagon, and moved 40 miles north to the town of Cut Off. The white cypress board house stood along Bayou Lafourche for more than a century, but had fallen into disrepair.
In 2022, the historic house was purchased by Natalie Lafont who moved the structure to her family’s property about a mile away. Lafont is doing a total restoration of the house. She marvels on the home’s history, “It’s incredibly remarkable how it stayed together.” Click here to read more about the restoration of the Curole house.
a day of remembrance
The nearby town of Grand Isle is hosting a day of remembrance on the 130th anniversary of the 1893 Cheniere Caminada Hurricane on Sunday, October1, 2023. Programs will honor those who died in the hurricane, and also celebrate the resilience of Grand Isle, Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island.
october 1, 2023 memorial activities
12:30pm-12:55 – Prayer service, blessing of the tombs and rededication of Cheniere Hurricane Monument at the Cheniere Cemetery.
1:15pm-1:40pm – Prayer service and blessing of tombs at Grand Isle Cemetery on Cemetery Lane.
2pm-3pm – Memorial Service at Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Church, 195 Ludwig Lane, Grand Isle.
3pm-4:30pm – Reception on the grounds of Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Church.