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When Carla Called

Lake Jackson Historical Museum

Sound | 1960s

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  •  Scenes of destruction from Hurricane Carla 
  •  Tornado destruction trailing Carla 
  •  Southwestern Bell’s role during the hurricane and recovery 
  •  Laying of underground telephone cable 
  •  Southwestern Bell buildings and infrastructure that survived the hurricane 
  •  Central Command Center in Houston for Southwestern Bell 
  •  Other states telephone companies assisting in restoring service 
  •  Trucks from other telephone companies assisting 
  •  Repairmen and operators assisting in restoration and relief 
  •  Citizens and police officers using telephone company buildings 
  •  Supplies organized and delivered by Western Electric 
  •  Restoring and repairing telephone lines and poles 
  •  Conclusion of restoration work undertaken by Southwestern Bell 
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  • About the video
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Produced by the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, this industrial film captures the company’s relief and service restoration efforts following Hurricane Carla in 1961. Scenes featured are Southwestern Bell workers from all across the United States providing assistance to residents, including infrastructure repair, community support for police and fire stations, and how well-designed infrastructure reduced the damage and death toll from the hurricane.
Carla is the second most intense hurricane to ever hit the Texas coast (the most intense was the "Indianola" hurricane of 1886.) Though the storm made landfall between Port O'Connor and Port Lavaca, it was so large that the entire coast was affected; over half a million residents were evacuated, and damage was reported as far inland as Dallas. Carla caused $325 million (today $2.03 billion) in damage and killed 31 Texans.
An interesting note from the 1961 hurricane: then little known news anchor Dan Rather reported live during the storm from the Galveston seawall. It was the first live broadcast during a hurricane, later to become common practice in weather reporting.