Hurricane Alicia forms south off Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico in 1983. The Texas Gulf Coast is slammed by the storm, causing 21 deaths, thousands of injuries and billions of dollars in damages.
When Alicia hit Galveston, Texas, it was the first hurricane to hit the United States in three years. It was a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of nearly 100 mph and gusts up to 127 mph. The town of Seabrook on Galveston Bay endured a 12-foot storm surge and an 11-foot tide completely submerged buildings. Alicia moved so fast that inland areas did not suffer deadly flooding.
Hurricane Alicia also set off many tornadoes in southeast Texas. Fourteen were reported between Galveston and Houston in one day. In Houston, the high line was blown down closing the ship channel for two weeks. Hundreds of new Mercedes Benz just offloaded from a Roro ship were all submerged near the ship channel turn around. One tug was sunk in the turn around by a Lykes ship that blew down on her after a team of tugs tried to stop her being blown into them after the eye passed. Another ship was wedge across the ship channel after the tidal surge left, needed the dock to be jackhammered away to free the ship.
In addition to the 21 people who lost their lives in the storms, 3,000 homes suffered severe damage and thousands of people required shelter assistance from the Red Cross. The $2 billion in damages recorded was a record for hurricane damage in Texas at the time. The environmental costs were also staggering. Thousands of trees were blown down. Galveston’s West Beach lost 150 feet of sand to sudden erosion from the storm. For the most part, though, Galveston’s seawall successfully protected the city. Afterwards, the Army Corps of Engineers estimated that without it, much of the city would have been destroyed.