Newspaper Article: Palmyra Atoll Flooded; More Waves Likely

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Title

Newspaper Article: Palmyra Atoll Flooded; More Waves Likely

Description

Brief account of a storm over the Pacific that caused an evacuation scare on Palmyra. This occurred during a brief period after the Navy in 1945 but the facilities were largely still in place.

Families working under the CAA (forerunner to the FAA) were in danger of being flooded out but thankfully no one was hurt or had to leave.

Source

Newspapers.com

Publisher

Cumberland News

Date

January 6, 1947

Rights

Fair Use

Language

English

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

123 On Tiny Island May Be Evacuated
HONOLULU, Jan, 5 (AP) A storm springing up off the Japanese coast lashed tow and a quarter million miles of the Pacific, battered waterfront properties in Hawaii yesterday, drove waves clear across tiny Palmyra atoll 1,000 miles to the south early today, and this afternoon was fading in the arctic.

Army fliers returning to Honolulu reported Palmyra’s hundred-odd Americans calmly munching sandwhiches as water swirled through their buildings. The highest ground in the little atoll is only six feet above sea level, and first urgent distress messages stirred widespread rescue efforts. The fliers said predawn waves had done no great damage, but that recurring inundations were expected.

Planes Converging On Atoll

The Navy said sufficient aircraft were converging on the atoll today to evacuate, if necessary, its entire navy-coast guard garrison of 108 men and its 15 civilians. Three ships also were enroute.

Reports from the Aleutians and Alaska, where the Seattle Weather Bureau said the storm was decreasing late today, remained scanty. Wind velocities of up to 65 miles an hour were reported, amid blinding flurries of snow.

Alaskan Department Army Headquarters at Anchorage said no lives were lost and no material damage was done in the Alaska-Aleutians area, but unofficial reports there said one plane had been wrecked on the ground near the tip of the Aleutians.

Waves were subsiding in the Hawaiian islands today, after crests yesterday left hundreds of thousands of dollars damage but no casualties. Waves smashed 40 feet high over the breakwater at Hilo, Hawaii.

Lt. Ernest Herod, Palestine, Texas, pilot of a B-25 bombing plane which made a routine overnight fueling stop at Palmyra, brought word that the residents were “probably the calmest bunch I’ve ever seen,” as they awaited fresh floods. The first waves did no great damage, he said.

Navy Playing Safe

While the two B-17s which reached Palmyra from Oahu and Johnston island could not evacuate all personnel, Vice Adm. John Hall, 14th Naval District commandant, said there were numbers of small boats in which all could keep afloat if needed.

“I hope evacuation will not be necessary,” he said, “but we want to be on the safe side.”

He said the atoll’s airstrips were reported usable and there were plenty of gasoline, but the evacuation - if required - might be a tricky thing as flood waters could make the strips at least temporarily unusable.

Palmyra’s ordeal by water first became known in a series of tersely worded but nerve-tingling appeals for help broadcast by the islands small radio station before daylight.

Later signals reported the danger had subsided, but the Navy hastened far-flung rescue operations by sea and air in fear that the next high tide might again send green water clear over the low-lying island.

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Citation

“Newspaper Article: Palmyra Atoll Flooded; More Waves Likely,” Palmyra Archive, accessed December 15, 2018, http://palmyraarchive.org/items/show/189.

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