Storm Harvey chaos nothing new for the hurricane veterans of Cameron, Louisiana

After Storm Harvey made landfall in Cameron, how has this Louisiana town fared against hurricanes in the past?

Harvey made landfall in the parish on Wednesday morning

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

For most towns, Storm Harvey would be a disaster of unprecedented proportions. But, for the latest set of people to be caught in its crosshairs, torrential and tempestuous weather patterns are practically a daily routine.

The tiny population of Cameron, Louisiana is as vulnerable to hurricanes and wild storms as practically any community on earth. The town, which lies close to the Texas state boundary and is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, is directly hit once every nine years and storms passing nearby tend to brush past once every three years.

The most recent storm to affect Cameron was a tropical storm called Cindy earlier this year, made landfall with winds of roughly 40 mph - only slightly slower than 45mph with which Cameron landed this morning. But this pales into insignificance compared to previous high-power storms.

In 1957, Hurricane Audrey – which claimed more than 400 lives overall and measured at category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale – left 90-95% of Cameron’s buildings damaged beyond repair with storm surge of 13.3 feet.

In the record-breaking hurricane season of 2005, the city was battered by 120mph winds whipped up by category-five Hurricane Rita – which remains the most intense storm ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. In this case, all of the residents had been previously evacuated from the area. More recently, in 2008, Hurricane Ike – which was category four – left similar devastation in its wake.

This spate of attacks from mother nature has decimated the local population. At the time of Rita in 2005, Cameron had a population of only around 9,500. But by 2008 this had dropped to just 6,800; many people had seen their homes destroyed twice in the space of three years and didn't have the stomach for another fight, particularly as strict new building codes required all homes to be elevated from seven to 18 feet above ground to reduce damage from any future storm, jacking up house prices by up to £38,000.

Harvey, the current storm Cameron has to deal with, is moving northeast, where it will eventually lose energy and dissipate over the mainland US. Damage costs are currently unknown while the storm progresses, but are estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars across the areas affected in both Louisiana and Texas.

It remains to be seen whether Cameron will be left devastated once again when the storm passes.