A Look Back at Hurricane Hazel in
Published FRI SEP 26
RALEIGH - In recent years, the Raleigh Fire Department in Wake
County has seen its share of natural disasters. Fran, Floyd and
floods come to mind.
In 1954, a much smaller fire department faced another
big storm: Hurricane Hazel. Until Fran came along, she was
recognized as the benchmark of tropical weather in this part of the
With the recent reporting on Isabel, FireNews.net in
Mike Legeros thought it would be
interesting to look back at the RFD response in 1954.
From the Monday, October 18, 1954 edition of the Raleigh Times:
Raleigh firemen experienced
one of their busiest weekends as a result of damage wrought by
The following telephone calls were answered on Friday:
- 8:05 a.m., 23 Bragg Street, electric wire, no damage;
- 10:04 a.m., 1206 Park Drive, rug on fire, damage not estimated;
- 11:30 a.m., 20 E. Cabarrus Street, electric wires, no damage;
- 1:40 p.m., 714 Glenwood Avenue, electric wires, no damage:
- 2:05 p.m., Lenior and Salisbury, electric wires, no damage;
- 2:35 p.m., Colleton Road, house, damage not estimated;
- 3 p.m., 500 S. Salisbury Street, tree on auto, damage no
- 3:55 p.m., Carolina Buck Company, use of ladder needed;
- 6:40 p.m., 400 block Oberlin Road, electric wires, no damage;
- 7:15 p.m., 908 Fayetteville Street, oil stove, no damage;
- 8:40 p.m., Cabarrus and Cutler, electric wires, no damage;
- 9 p.m., S. East Street, electric wires, no damage;
- 10:15 p.m, 500 block Salisbury Street, tree on fire, no damage;
- 10:53 p.m, 128 N. Harrington Street, inspection;
- 11:30 p.m., Bloodworth and Edenton Street, inspection.
Calls on Saturday included:
- Box 313 alarm at 7.31 a.m., Manly and Pugh Streets, oil stove, no
- 2:10 p.m., Mullins Lane, electric wires, no damage;
- Box 241 alarm at 5:32 p.m., Martin and State Streets, oil stove,
damage not estimated;
- 7:17 p.m., 2931 Wade Avenue, electric wires, no damaged;
- 8:39 p.m., 109 N. Boylan Avenue, electric wires, no damage;
- 8:46 p.m., same as above;
- 11:36 p.m., to Franklin and Person Streets, brush and smudge pot
on fire, no damage.
Sunday's calls included:
- 2:45 a.m., 2302 Byrd Street, electric motor, no damage;
- 9:05 a.m., 319 S. Dawson, inspection;
- 10:12 a.m., Sawyer Lane, chimney, no damage;
- 1:40 p.m., 400 block Peace, bus on fire, no damage;
- 12:41 to 421 N. Bloodworth Street, look for lost child;
- 2:52 p.m., to 13 Maiden Lane, tree about to fall, no damage.
As for the size of the Raleigh Fire Department in 1954:
- In 1950, RFD had 6 stations protecting 10.9 square miles and
- Starting in 1950, RFD had two shifts, working 24 on, 24 off
- That same year, 83 new personnel were added.
- In 1954, city had six stations with 7 engines, 1 aerial, and 1
By comparison, Raleigh FD in 2003:
- 26 stations protecting 127.25 square miles and 316,979 residents
- Staff of 494
- Twenty six stations with 27 engines, five trucks, three rescues,
three district chiefs, one battalion chief (shift commander),
various Haz-Mat and USAR units. Approximately 28,000 calls per year.
- For Hurricane Isabel, "A" shift ran 235 calls (24 hour period),
with Engine 5 running 32.
HURRICANE HAZEL BACKGROUND:
October 15, 1954: Hurricane Hazel, the eighth Atlantic hurricane
that year, makes landfall in Brunswick County, NC. Storm surge at
coast is greatest in state's recorded history, striking at exact
time of highest lunar tide of year. Coastal regions receive some of
most destructive winds ever, with estimates in several locations of
150 mph gusts. At Raleigh-Durham Airport, gusts to 90 mph are
recorded around 1:30 p.m. All told, nineteen people are killed and
over 200 injured; 15,000 homes and structures destroyed; 39,000
structures damaged; 30 counties with major damages; and estimated
$136 million in property losses. When combined with other states,
Canada and Haiti, numbers climb to 600+ dead and estimated $350
million in property damage.
Source: North Carolina's
Hurricane History, Third Edition by Jay Barnes, UNC Press, 2001
- Submitted by
Mike Legeros. Author of "Raleigh and Wake County
Firefighting," Arcadia Publishing, 2003.
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