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The Fritzler Files - Hurricane Carla (1961)

Max Fritzler

Silent | 1961

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  •  Dan Rather on the scene 
  •  Evacuation efforts 
 
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  • Hurricane Carla Hurricane Carla
  • Dan Rather Dan Rather
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This home movie captures people on the streets of Galveston during Hurricane Carla in September 1961. Amid the citizens wading through floodwaters and waiting to board evacuation buses is KHOU reporter Dan Rather. Rather’s reporting on Hurricane Carla changed the way news organizations cover such storms. He made the first live broadcast during a hurricane as well as showed the first radar image of a hurricane on television. Rather’s efforts did not go unnoticed—his thorough coverage earned him a promotion to CBS News correspondent.
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.
Dan Rather is a journalist best known for anchoring the CBS Evening News. He has won several Emmys and Peabody Awards for his contributions to the field of journalism.  
 
Rather was born Daniel Irvin Rather Jr. on October 31, 1931, in Wharton, Texas, to Byrl Veda Page and Daniel Sr., a pipeline worker. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Houston, where Rather grew up. He attended Sam Houston State University, where he worked for the school newspaper and a local radio station, and he also reported for the Associated Press, United Press, and The Houston Chronicle. The mass communications building at Sam Houston State was renamed in his honor in 1994.
 
After earning a degree in journalism in 1953, Rather planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps, but because he had rheumatic fever as a child, he was discharged. In 1954, he began reading the morning news on KTRH, a Houston-based radio station. For the next few years, he worked his way up until he became a reporter for KTRK and then KHOU, both Houston television stations.  
 
In 1961, Rather’s thorough coverage of Hurricane Carla for KHOU earned him a promotion to CBS News correspondent. His reporting on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination led him to become a White House correspondent and a foreign correspondent in London and Vietnam. In the early 1970s, Rather reported on the CBS Sunday Night News, CBS Reports, and 60 Minutes. When Walter Cronkite retired in 1981, Rather took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News, where he remained for 24 years. 
 
When he left CBS after 43 years, Rather began a weekly show called Dan Rather Reports. He also contributes to other programs, such as The Daily Show, and runs an independent company called News and Guts Media. He and his wife Jean Goebel have been married since 1957. They have two children, Robin and Dan, and have homes in New York City and Austin.