Our Story-The Case for Support
It is 1957. A frightened nation tensely tunes into nightly live news reports, eyes focused on the Louisiana coastline. Somewhere out at sea, a storm approaches. There are no advanced warning systems to sound an alert, no emergency evacuation plans to engage, no satellite tracking system to predict where and when this storm will strike land. There is just the awful waiting. In the dark of that one night, Hurricane Audrey slams ashore in Cameron, Louisiana and within 24 hours over 500 people are dead, communities are swept away, and an entire region is left to mourn in the wake of nature’s indifferent fury.
It is June 2005, almost fifty years later, and America’s attention once again turns to the Gulf Coast. But this time weather science is highly advanced and ready, evacuation plans are in place, and satellites track with precision Hurricane Katrina’s daily path and growing power. America is reassured; all is ready. But is it? Katrina strikes with devastating force, the human structures and preparations crumble and fail before a wall of wind and water. Long-neglected levies burst, hundreds of thousands of people are isolated and abandoned, governments fail to act, lives are washed away, and chaos unfolds across television screens worldwide. The entire Gulf region is devastated. Less than a month later, Hurricane Rita bursts ashore and the region absorbs still another crushing blow.
How could this disaster happen here and now? Who is to blame? What should we have done? A stubborn resolve has emerged among the survivors; we will recover, we will never forget, we will never let these failures happen again.
The National Hurricane Museum & Science Center (NHMSC) is a tangible symbol for that resolve. Dedicated to both remembering the past, showcasing current weather and coastal management science, and preparing for future storms, this unique institution will preserve and interpret the social history and impact of past hurricanes, as well as educate the public about the dynamic science of hurricanes while helping them prepare for the next one.
This all new, 60,000 square-foot museum and science center to be located in the middle of America’s Gulf of Mexico coastline (in Lake Charles, Louisiana) will become a major tourist destination for the entire country, with state-of-the-art interactive experiences and engaging educational programs. In addition, the NHMSC will be a critical partner for science educators throughout the region. By incorporating the human side of the story and memorializing the courage and sacrifice of those who endure hurricanes, the NHMSC will uniquely combine the latest hurricane science with social history. By integrating an active National Weather Service weather station, interactive exhibitions, simulations, games, collections, oral histories, websites, educational curricula, public events, and scientific symposia, the NHMSC will become a visible force advocating for regional and national responsibility to prepare and protect this country from the ever-increasing threat and impact of hurricanes. As a critical part of that message, the NHMSC will incorporate the ecological story of wetlands and the need for innovative management and development of the coastal assets that naturally cushion the blow of hurricanes.
The Great Galveston Hurricane (1900), The Long Island Express (1938), Audrey (1957), Hugo (1989), Katrina (2005),—the United States is country of hurricanes, annually plagued by severe weather events that slam ashore from Texas to New England. As a hub in a national network tracking, interpreting, and understanding hurricanes as both ecological and social phenomena, the NHMSC will be a trusted source for timely and relevant content to prepare for, survive, and recover from the devastating force and unrelenting frequency of hurricanes.
The educational ambition of the NHMSC is broader than merely studying hurricane science and preparing for future hurricanes. By utilizing the motivational power and fascination with hurricanes, the NHMSC will design and deliver high-quality, curriculum-relevant math, science, and social science educational experiences for schools and teachers across the country.
To meet these critical educational goals, the NHMSC is initiating a friend/fundraising campaign to increase awareness and raise financial resources to achieve its mission of building a national center for hurricane education in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Never forgetting the past while actively preparing for the future are the twin goals of the NHMSC. If one life is saved, one community spared devastation through education and preparation, then all that we invest together in this effort will be worthwhile.