GRAND BAY, Ala. (WALA) – It started with the slimmest of clues – an account of a 4-year-old …
GRAND BAY, Ala. (WALA) – As the ferocious winds from Alabama’s storm of the century began to whip south Mobile County in earnest, Linda Bosarge started having second thoughts about riding it out in a mobile home.
The mother of two tried to usher her two little girls to their car to flee to a safer location. But her daughter, Ginny Williams – who was 6 on that September evening 40 years ago this week – recalled that Hurricane Frederic by that point was too ferocious. She said her mother managed to get her to the car but could not find 4-year-old Eula Arlene Bosarge in the darkened trailer on Boe Road Extension near Ramsey Road
Before the last-minute attempt to flee Frederic, Williams said, her mother told her girls to go to the safest part of the trailer. But Eula ran to the kitchen instead, she said.
“My sister wasn’t wanting to go to the bathroom, to the bathtub,” said Williams, now 46 and living in Pascagoula, Mississippi. “And so, the trailer started shaking and stuff, and everything just started tilting. And then all I remember is it just started turning over.”
Williams said she ran after her sister and tried to get her away from the sliding-glass doors. She described a horrifying scene – no lights, the mobile home shaking in the wind and pounding rain.
Then, Williams said, the trailer flipped upside down. She said a piano in the adjacent living room ended up on top of the trailer’s resident, a woman she called Aunt Peggy. She said she ran to help the woman wiggle free.
But Eula’s fate was far sadder. A refrigerator came tumbling over, crushing her underneath.
Low death toll
For such a powerful storm, the death toll from Category 4 Frederic was relatively modest. Officials attributed five deaths directly to the storm in the United States. One of those was a 23-year-old Mobile woman, Mary Anne Dickinson, who drowned when the boat she was on got caught in the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida’s Escambia County. It was the only death directly due to the hurricane in the Sunshine State.
In Alabama, a 76-year-old Prichard man suffered a heart attack and died after his roof collapsed during the storm, and officials say the hurricane played an indirect role in several fatal fires that occurred in the aftermath.
But Eula Bosarge was the only person to die in Alabama from the hurricane, itself.
Her father, Lawrence Bosarge, talked with FOX10 News about that night – the first time he ever has told his story to the media.
A 71-year-old retired shrimper living in Coden, Bosarge got choked up several times during the interview. Even 40 years later, he said, the pain of losing a child never goes away.
“She was my angel,” he said.
Bosarge recalled that his daughter would climb on top of him as he relaxed on a recliner.
“She would get up here and rub my face,” he said, fighting back tears as he mimicked the motion. “And she’d tell me she loved me. Four years old.”
Bosarge said he rode out the storm at his brother’s house, along with his mother and several other people. He said he unsuccessfully tried to persuade his ex-wife to come to the house with the two girls.
‘She couldn’t see her’
Bosarge described the account he later would receive about how his daughter died. He said his ex-wife frantically searched the darkened trailer, trying to follow Eula’s voice amid the chaos.
“She could hear her. She didn’t have no flashlight,” he said. “She could hear her, but she couldn’t see her. By then, the refrigerator had fell on (her).”
Bosarge did not learn any of that until the day after, however. As Frederic pounded the Mobile area, all he could do was hope and pray that his family was safe.
“We would open the front door, and it sounded like a train coming,” he said, impersonating the sound the wind was making. “And you could hear the pine trees outside snap, just like a pencil.”
Today, Eula’s final resting place is an unmarked grave on a family plot at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Bayou La Batre, where Bosarge’s mother and brother are buried. He said he could not afford a headstone but added that he frequently visits the grave.
After Frederic, Bosarge went on with his life. He remarried and worked the seas as a commercial fisherman. Over the years, he’s become something of a hurricane expert. Hurricane Nate in 2017, he said, delivered 10 inches of water on his property. After Hurricane Georges in 1998, the water was knee-deep.
And Katrina, he said, destroyed his washer, dryer and hot-water heater.
None of that compares to the horror from 40 years ago, though.
“It’s not good when you lose someone like that,” he said. “You can lose your house. And you can rebuild. But to lose someone is devastating.”