I was stationed at NAS Chase Field in Beeville and had only been there about ten days when it hit. I remember thinking what the hell am I going to be in for for the rest of my tour here. I grew up in Fort Worth and had never experienced the fury of a full-blown hurricane. Hurricanes degenerate to tropical storm status by the time
I was 9 when hurricane Celia hit. I was laying on the couch watching tv when the walls began to breath back and forth. I went to the kitchen to tell my mother, I found her and my grandfather standing in front of the picture window. Dad was putting boards on the windows and mom put us all in the bathroom. When we came out part of our roof had blown off, our yard was flooded, and we had no electricity for weeks. We lived in a trailer house for quite a while until all the repairs were made.
I remember Celia well -- I was only out of the hospital 3 months from having a kidney removed and living in an apartment in downtown Corpus --- just 2 blocks from the marina....working in the Wilson Building on the hill. Worked until 2:30 p.m. the day Celia hit (officially hit at 3:00 I believe). After National Guard moved into downtown, I had no car so I walked to work each morning. A Guardsman walked from one corner to the next, and another one took over at each new corner. My apartment was made of concrete, but I could feel the walls 'breathing'.
My dad was a policeman for Corpus Christi my mom was a nurse at Memorial Hospital my brother sister and I were with my grandma and grandpa on Virginia street when Celia hit we were looking out the window watching trees up root and parts of roofs flying away until our grandma got us away from the window the ceiling of the house began to collapse due to the heavy rain and my grandparents decided to leave during the eye and go to my cousins house on Saxet street we were about 2 miles away and it took us more than 15 minutes to get to their house do to fallen trees live power line and debris all over the road. I will never for get how after it was over all the trees that were standing had no leaves on there branches it looked like winter a real hot winter.
We went to the oldest Brother of the Calderon"s. It was further from the coastal water"s but she wasn"t having it. She tore one side of town up then started down the freeway from Padre like she was ready to go shopping. I had just left the Gulf Skating place off the freeway on my bike and you could see her coming. I had a Continental 10 speed and knew I had to get home fast. Needless to say I did make it there fast, I didn"t even pedal. The wind was to the back side of me about 70 miles an hour. I took the curve"s the best I could not even worrying about traffic, there was none. I hit the curb and climbed on the freeway and let the wind push hard to the back right of me but still moving me at a high rate of speed. Baldwin exit was coming quick and freeway exit was gathering small whirling water spouts. I then grabbed both brake handles and the bike slowed down due to a bent rim. I took the short wide turn and headed to my Grandmas house on Sabinas. I would look back and the sky was smoky dark with the smell of salt water. My senses were all working very well even though I was young I told my mom lets go! She was gathering food and looking for my oldest brother who was in the worst side of town. Louisiana Street! For Hurricanes that is. Well, we all got into her Fury II and barely made it to my Step-Dads brothers house. We shut the door and we heard an explosion. It was the back door blew open. I went to shut it and my Uncle grabbed me. We both stood there looking at the house behind his be lifted about twenty feet up in the air and rolled it on its roof. We all went into the center of the house and my mom Prayed for our safety. It worked we all made it. So, every Hurricane I"ve been in and there has been a few living in Southeast Texas, I go get Mom. We"re still here! Thank God.
We lived in Portland on Markham Place, 4 houses from the beach. My family lost everything. My father"s workplace was completely destroyed and they decided not to rebuild there so we relocated to Corsicana, outside of Dallas near some relatives. I was only 5 years old at the time but do remember my parents packing up the car to head inland. We ended up being in a head on collison about an hour inland (cannot remember name of town) but we all made it out ok and spent the Hurricane in the hospital. Old lady pulled out of her driveway and turned into our lane to get the mail out of her mailbox just as we came over the hill at 70mph. I remember the rain and crazy wind while laying in the mud in a ditch with my mother waiting for the ambulance. An ambulance station wagon showed up eventually. Mom with broke arm, dad with broke ribs and nose but us 3 kids in the backseat were pretty ok considering. My brother did have his knee cap knocked to the side, ouch! I had a small burn on my side. My oldest brother walked away with scratches. Dad is now 82, mom is 79, brother with the bad knee is 58. My brother who walked away with mere scratches we lost at age 39, to pneumonia in Austin, Tx., 1993. Why she thought she needed to get her mail at that particular time is baffling.
I don"t know if any of you old timers remember the Red Barn Steak House out on I37 south of Mathis, but there is where I spent Hurricane Celia. True, not too much rain, but the wind was incredible. I can remember looking out a window (before mom snatched me away from it) and watching 200 pound railroad ties rolling along the ground propelled by the wind. Dad was upstairs in the second story when part of the roof blew off. I remember him moving really fast down that staircase to get someplace safer. We went outside during the eye and surveyed the damage knowing we had the other half to go. Celia was in a group o 3,- Beulah, Celia, and Fern. That 5 year span really made us think about somewhere else besides the coast.
I recognized virtually every scene in this video. The destruction was unbelievable. The Woolco store at the mall on South Staples, a huge poured in place concrete building was flattened. Hundreds or thousands of homes absolutely totally destroyed. I firmly believe that had this been a larger Hurricane )it was small) it would be considered the worst of all time. Not so much the surge, but the winds were INCREDIBLE. I"ve been thru several in my long and checkered life, and this one stands alone in ita absolute ferocity.