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On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall at Long Beach. The storm’s arrival in North Carolina occurred on a full moon high tide, maximizing impact of the storm surge on the barrier beaches of Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle, Holden Beach, Long Beach, Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Topsail Island.

Devastation was widespread but nowhere was the impact more severe than on Long Beach (present-day Oak Island), where a 17-foot storm surge swept away 352 of the 357 structures on the island. The dramatic surge was, and remains, singular in North Carolina’s recorded history.

Hazel was the only Category Four hurricane of the twentieth century to strike North Carolina. Its winds topped 140 miles per hour. After landfall it tracked inland, and battering winds cut a wide swath northward toward Raleigh. High winds toppled trees, ripped roofs, and tore down signs and power lines across the state. Hazel was responsible for 95 deaths in the US, including 19 in North Carolina. Hazel remains the standard by which other North Carolina hurricanes are measured.

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  • Guest1948

    I remember Hazel well. I was a child and my family lived in the bottom appartment of a two story house on Carolina Beach near the ocean. As the storm approached we left to stay with relatives in Wilmington. When we returned, we saw massive destruction. Several houses were sitting a few hundred feet off shore in the ocean and our appartment was completely buried under sand. My father had to use a shovel to dig down to crawl into a window to get in our residence. Needless to say we lost all of our belongings except for my pet bird and the family dog. The water mark on the wall went within 4 inches of the celing and some how they managed to survive.

  • Betty

    My very 1st memory of a hurricane. My Fam. & I lived inland about 15 miles from what was then called Ocean Drive Beach SC. The wind howled so loudly that I put my fingers in both ears & could still hear it. Our Home wasn’t completely destroyed But we had MAJOR DAMAGE That was one of the most frightening times of any weather related situation I had ever seen & even though I was a small child I will never FORGET IT & I THANK GOD FOR TAKING CARE OF US DURING THE FURY OF HAZEL TILL THIS DAY!!!!!



  • karen bass

    Hi!! We are just watching the dvr show about this, & wondering if it is available on a video??

  • barbara richie pond

    I remember Hazel well. I was in Frances Lacy School, in Raleigh, NC. There was a sense of panic in the school among the staff, though they tried desperately hard not to show it. We had gone to school that day; it was so normal. I don’t remember the time but we were all alerted that our parents were picking us up from school because a hurricane was coming. I was terribly frightened. I believe I was 7 years old. I was picked up. My family lived in a duplex on Lewis Farm Road in Raleigh. We rushed home. Mother tried so hard to make everything seem normal. I knew she was scared. Upstairs on the 2nd level of our duplex, I remember looking out my window, wondering how pinetree could flow so horizontally to the ground and not snap off. We did have big pines down the next day when I looked. But at the time, I remember questioning why all of them weren’t coming down. Those trees were probably about 15-20 years old….not sure…I was a child. But they were not really young. The wind howled and screamed. The sky was blackish. I have never forgotten that day. I never will. Winds were in excess of 100 mph in Raleigh. I lay down in fear and covered my ears. I remember that. I also remember that when it was gone, I felt thankful and had a new sense of what life was about, though I still had no clue what life held or what I had actually been through. Since that time, I have been intrigued with Hazel. It was a rouge storm. It didn’t make sense or follow the normal hurricane guidelines. I have always believed it was the hand of God (like the Titanic disaster) and that I was delivered from death by the very hand of God Himself.


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