I have seen first-hand the damage of several hurricanes. I remember Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005
After one of these hurricanes, and I am saying weeks after, my family went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We could not go the normal way. When we got to Bay Saint Louis there were concrete sections of the bridge at strange angles. The hurricane had lifted them from below breaking their bolts in the process and dropped then other than flat on their supports. They were tilted. It seemed that most of them had been picked up and dropped. This was the result to the power of waves from below. I was impressed. If water could life a section of a bridge it surly could do major damage.
I still have images of the damage from Hurricane Camille. The storm surge beached three ocean going ships, large ships. They had to be removed, and the only way to do it was to cut them up for scrap. A tug boat came to rest across the highway from the gulf, and a barge washed in and back out several times, destroying buildings.
Heavy damage was done to buildings three blocks from the Gulf of Mexico. It was apparent that small offshore islands could mitigate the damage, but where there were gaps in the barrier islands the waves did their worst.
Hurricane Katrina did a similar thing to the twin spans that connect New Orleans to the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain. The bridges had to be replace, since one span was too badly damaged to reuse. The other was used temporarily until a new bridge could be constructed that is much higher, with the intent that wave action will not reach it. And, I had to pass a similar bridge replacement due to washing out in Florida, just past Pensacola. It too was replaced with a higher bridge.
After Hurricane Katrina, and it persists today, there are expanses of vacant land on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Homes once stood there, but for about three city blocks from the gulf everything was flattened by storm surge. All that remained was slabs and driveways. It has never rebuilt, probably because insurance is either impossible or too expensive to obtain. One notable structure that remains, even after Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina, is the Biloxi lighthouse.
The destruction done to the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge runs about forty miles.
I also read an account of the hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, in the early 1900s. According to the article I read, which was printed in Waetherwise many years back, homes were built on pilings many feet up. The waves lifted the homes, then used them as battering rams to take the next homes down. Thousands perished. There is no exact count, but between 6,000 and 8,000 is what is usually accepted.