Remembering Hurricane Celia 1970

Stormy Night

It definitely was a dark and stormy night the other evening when a surge of wind and rain came through Corpus Christi, where I live and it came on very suddenly. My husband and I had been watching the news at 10:00 and the weatherman said that we would be getting rain by 11:00 that night and that is what we had expected, a little bit of rain. What actually happened at about 11:30 was a very loud surge of wind that blew through our town with very heavy rain. It sounded like a tornado or a very mild hurricane because the whistling of the wind was overwhelming. It took us totally by surprise and we had to bring in our lawn furniture into the house because we started to hear things blowing around like crazy outside. About 15 minutes into the storm, the lights went out and they stayed out until about 4 a.m.

This occurrence started me thinking about the hurricane season and that we are at the beginnings of this horrid season here on the gulf coast. Corpus Christi hasn’t had a major storm hit since about 1999 and it made me think that this town is probably overdue for a storm of humongous proportions.

It led me to recall August 3, 1970 when Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christi. I was 6 years old and there are some sketchy memories of this storm, but I definitely remember most of what happened and I have to tell you, whoever remembers this storm back then will most likely tell you that they will never forget it.

Aug 1, 1970- Aug 3, 1970

Hurricane Celia was definitely one of the most destructive storms that ever hit Corpus Christi, and if you want to think about the damage to the city, it was about 450 million, but in today’s dollars it would have been about 2 billion dollars in damage. Celia became a depression on August 1, 1970 out in the Caribbean. It started doing some damage in Cuba which caused torrential rain and flooding, which killed 5 people before it gained strength out in the coast,and it gained strength at a pretty rapid pace, because it took about 15 hours before it made landfall in Corpus Christi. The storm didn’t last long but the downbursts of heavy winds caused considerable damage in the downtown and residential areas of Corpus Christi. This hurricane introduced the fact that wind gusts far exceed the hurricane's sustained winds. It was a category 3 hurricane and some of the recorded winds reached up to 180 mph.

Eye of the Storm
Eye of the Storm

Shelter

I remember my family sought shelter in a church that we belonged to because my father didn’t trust our house to be able to keep us safe during this storm and he was so right. The church was a brick and mortar type church which was pretty sturdy but I still remember windows breaking and water starting to flood inside the church. I know that there was some shelters throughout the city, but I don’t recall why we ended up in this shelter or the circumstances behind it. I do remember that once the eye of the storm was in the center of Corpus Christi there was a silence like I had never experienced. The sun actually came out and you could even see blue sky, but it didn’t last long as the back end of the storm came not long after and it started all over again. The wind sounded like a freight train getting ready to hit the building and I vividly remember my mother praying over and over. It was the scariest feeling ever. But somehow by the grace of God, we survived and it was over in a short period of time and dissipated over the eastern part of Texas.

When we left the church to go home, I remember my dad driving so slowly because there was a lot of rain and flooding and I even remember live wires sparkling on the ground. I remember seeing thick palm trees that had been bent like a matchstick. I saw boats on top of buildings and it looked like almost every building had been destroyed.  When we got home we found that our house was still intact except for some broken windows, however I do remember many of the trees in our front yard had been jolted down from the strom. It was very scary for someone my age to see this. It was a traumatizing experience, so much so that later whenever my dad would watch the weather on the news, I would cringe and I would always ask him if there were any hurricanes coming our way again. I know he felt for me and always did his best to quiet my fears.

Although the damage could have been a lot worse, about 16 people died and 466 people were injured, and many people were displaced for a long time after the storm. I remember we didn’t have electricity for days after, maybe even weeks.

I also remember one of the headlines in a Corpus Christi newspaper of a picture of a straw that had gone almost all the way through a tree, which astonishes me. But you can never underestimate the power of hurricane winds. Although this was a category 3 hurricane, we know what a category 5 can do, i.e. Katrina.. Hopefully this hurricane season will be calm and not as active, but I am grateful that at least this town is very much more prepared than in the past.

I have found a video of some old footage of the aftermath of Hurricane Celia and I hope you take a minute to see the footage and get an idea of how bad this storm was.

© 2010 ladyjane1

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Comments 22 comments

Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

You described this very well. I was 12 and only vaguely remember hearing about it. In Kansas of course we fear tornadoes, another fearsome weather phenomenon. There is always a sense of dread when hurricane season arrives because the destruction can be so great.

Your remembrances are very vivid, and let's all hope for a mild storm season this year.

Mike


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

What a terrible storm. I lived in Indiana during that time.

One can only imagine how scary it was going through it. Today, I suppose there is the added danger posed by the oil spill if hurricanes start and it's still not stopped and cleaned up. Please take care of yourself and your family and have a backup plan, dear ladyjane!


rose56 profile image

rose56 6 years ago

wow love your hub.I remember the walls were shaking every thing about that was scary. Good job another great hub.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

ladyjane - your comment about the hurricane wind sounding like a freight train brought back some very scary memories for me, too. That's exactly how it sounded when Hurricane Andrew hit Miami in 1982. I've been through 3 major hurricanes in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area and am apprehensive for the entire hurricane season each year.

Let's hope we're all fortunate this year to escape the major storms.


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you Ladyjane, for jarring my memory, it was a terrible hurricane. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Thank for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Mike thanks for reading and tornadoes are just as scary because a hurricane can spawn many tornadoes and sometimes they just come out of nowhere. Thanks for reading. Cheers.

@Nellieanna hello and thanks for reading, I know what you mean about the oil spill I have been thinking about this more and more and how horrible the situation will get if we get hurricanes this summer. Thanks for your concern. Cheers.

@rose56 thanks for reading and yea it was scary of course you were older than I was and probably remember more than I do but what I do remember was frightening. Thanks again sis.

@drbj good to see you again and yea you know what Im talking about. Hurricances are scary as hell. Cheers.

@creativeone59 great to see you again,thanks for reading and you are welcome for jarring your memory. When I thought of this hurricane I can't believe that it will be 40 years this Aug. wow. thanks again cheers.


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

Very good hub ladyjane, great pictures and well written. Terrific storm anyway. Rated up and awesome.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Hypnodude hello its good to see you again. I appreciate you visiting and thanks as always. Cheers.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

"a straw that had gone almost all the way through a tree" ???

You don't have a photo of that LadyJane do you? Fascinating stuff. I looked up Corpus Christi on teh map. Looks like a great place :-)


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

LadyJane, good job on the relating of your experience. We get some great storms here, that are fun to watch as the lightening dances cloud to cloud. We don't get anything like your storms, and I'm glad. I can see from the images and videos how some might catch a phobia from them, 50


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

De Greek thanks for visiting, and unfortunately I do not have a picture of the straw in the tree I wouldve loved to have included it. And your right Corpus Christi is a nice place. Cheers.

@50 Caliber I agree that storms are interesting to watch and the skies are beautiful during a lightening storm especially at night. Thanks for visiting, cheers.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

Good story,LJ. Corpus Christi is my favorite Texas coastal town. I would like to see it stay there for a while. I find it interesting that mankind struggles and grows and comes up with technology, hell, even goes to the moon and back. But when serious hurricanes show up, we are still pretty much at their mercy. Mother Nature is a powerful opponent who usually wins. I rode out a typhoon in the Philippines one time. Sat right through the eye passing and you are so right, it was one of the most eerie silences I have experienced in my life. It's not just quiet, it's a different kind of quiet altogether. Thanks for helping us remember. WB


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Wayne thanks for reading. Im glad that you like Corpus Christi it is where I grew up and I moved away for many years and just recently moved back here. It has gotten very large compared to when I was a kid and unfortunately there is a lot more crime than I remember, mostly gang related crime. Its a shame that punks are taking away the joys of this town. Cheers.


Whidbeywriter profile image

Whidbeywriter 6 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

Great hub! It brings back a lot of memories when I experienced this as a kid...I remember being so scared and watching cars get blown away and trees get uprooted. I am glad Corpus hasn't been hit in a while!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Great information from you. I never know about this before, so I learn much from this hub. Good for knowledge and useful to be aware from kind of this disaster. We can learn to anticipate and if it happened like this is we can do better. I hope many research can help people to know when this disasters will come to minimize the victims. I know this is bad memories, but we have to see the future. Good work, my friend. I really enjoy all information about what happen in Celia 1970. Thank you very much!

Prasetio


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

I was 12 at the time and barely remember this hurricane. You provided vivid details!


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

whidbeywriter that makes the two of us. Hope this year will be calm. Thanks for reading.

@Prasetio thanks so much for reading. Im glad that you feel it is important to prepare oneself for such a storm. Take care. Cheers.

@habee thanks for reading....cheers!


geegee77 profile image

geegee77 6 years ago from The Lone Star State!!

I also remember that hurricane I think I was 2 or 3 but I remember how scared I was. Great hub.


russ 6 years ago

actually hurricane celia hit corpus christi dead on not port A. as i remember my mother calling us back in the house she had just heard we were in the eye of the storm. And sure enough the wind and debris started blowing from the oppsite direction i was 12 years old


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

russ thanks for reading my hub and you are right as I mentioned in my hub that we got the eye of the hurricane head on and it was the spookiest thing ever. Thanks for reading Cheers.


Aelie 4 years ago

I remember Celia very well. We rode it out in our house, which was right on the bay side of Ocean Drive down near the N.A.S.--Mom had pestered the architect to engineer it for hurricanes, and it was rated for 180 mile an hour winds--which he thought was STUPID overengineering. As his house was badly damaged and our house was mostly okay ... in any case, I will never forget when the water of the bay sucked out .... and then all came back again in one surge. The eye passing over was eerily normal .... but it was the constant howl of the wind coupled with the insane pitch of the gusts that I still remember. Funny, my first clear memories are of Beulah, the other major hurricane that hit Corpus.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 4 years ago from Texas Author

Hello thanks for taking time to read my article. Every time there is a hurricane in the coast I start getting nervous and my palms get sweaty and I don't even live near the coast anymore but I still have family there. Glad you survived a couple of the deadliest hurricanes in Corpus's history. Cheers to you.

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