While Celia, which caused damage from July 31 to August 5 1970, paled
in strength comparisons with other storms (it was only a Category
3 at its peak), it introduced an aspect of hurricanes
previously thought to be impossible - incredible wind gusts that far
exceed the hurricane's winds. With winds of 130 mph and wind gusts
estimated as high as 180, Celia gave the Coastal Bend a taste of the
massive destruction that can occur with hurricanes.
The final estimate of damage was placed at $453 million dollars. In
terms of today's dollars, the estimate would be closer to $1.83 billion
dollars. Celia killed 31 people and cause 466 injuries, a small amount
when compared to the damage caused to housing structures - it could have
been far worse.
To the people who experienced Celia, it was a storm they will never
forget. The wind gusts were confined to small areas "looking almost
like a tiger's claw" over the city of Corpus Christi. One man, in his
description of the wind burst, stated the sound of the gust was "like
a giant hammer hitting the building."
Hurricane Celia Report
Celia, following in the wake of Hurricanes Carla (1961), and Beulah
(1967), became the third major storm to hit the Texas Gulf coast in the
past 10 years. She was spawned from a depression which formed in the
northwestern Caribbean Sea late Thursday, July 30. The weak cyclone moved
northwestward at about 10 mph and crossed the western tip of Cuba late on
Friday, lashing western Cuba with showers and squalls of up to 40 mph, and
then entering the Gulf of Mexico. The depression intensified rapidly over
the warm waters of the Gulf, and at 11 a.m., CDT, on Saturday (Aug. 1), an
Air Force reconnaissance plane found the depression had increased to
tropical storm intensity; Celia had been born.
Celia continued to move on a northwesterly track as further
intensification occurred. At 5 p.m. on the 1st, Celia was upgraded to a
hurricane; by midnight, she was packing 100 mph winds near the center. A
hurricane warning was issued at 11 a.m., CDT, Sunday (8/2), for the Texas
Gulf Coast from Palacios to Port Arthur, and evacuations were begun. The
hurricane warnings were extended to the Corpus Christi area at 5 a.m.,
CDT, Monday. Late Monday morning, when Celia was only 95 miles east of
Corpus Christi, an Air Force reconnaissance plane reported the maximum
sustained wind at 115 mph near the center.
Celia crossed the Texas coastline midway between Corpus Christi and
Aransas Pass about 4:15 p.m., CDT, on August 3. Hurricane Celia move
west-northwest across southern Texas with the storm center passing near
Mathis, Fowlerton, Cotulla, Carrizo Springs, Eagle Pass and Del Rio. By 9
p.m., CDT, on the 3rd, with the storm center over the southwest portion of
Live Oak County, sustained winds had dropped below hurricane force,
although peak gusts were estimated at 100 mph at both George West and
Tilden. At Del Rio, peak gusts reached 89 mph and the storm caused
property damage of $1 million.
Hurricane Celia did not produce torrential rains and massive flooding
over thousands of square miles that so often accompany storms of this
magnitude. The heaviest storm rainfall was in the immediate Corpus Christi
area, where 6.50 inches fell at Aransas Pass, while 6.30 inches and 6.31
inches fell at the Corpus Christi airport, and at Robstown, respectively.
General rains of 3 to 4 inches of less accompanied the hurricane along its
path across south Texas. Rains of 4 inches or more were reported in the
Eagle Pass area; the official total at Eagle Pass was 4.70 inches. the
towns of Pearsall and Jourdanton, only 30 to 40 miles north fo the
hurricane center, received no rain at all. Several other towns 40 to 50
miles north of the storm center also remained dry.
Damage to downtown building in
Corpus Christi, Texas, August 5, 1970.
Luckily, few tornadoes were spawned by Hurricane Celia. A preliminary
count shows only 3, plus one funnel aloft. The tornadoes occurred north of
Katy in Harris County, near Falfurrias and Eagle Pass.
Hardest hit was the metropolitan area of Corpus Christi, including Port
Aransas, Aransas Pass, and small towns on the north side of Corpus Christi
Bay. In Corpus Christi, property damage was estimated at $233 million, and
in Aransas Pass, at $20 million.
The Red Cross estimated 65,000 Texas families suffered losses. In the
Texas Coastal Bend, where Celia unleashed its greatest fury, 8,950 homes
were destroyed; 13,850 homes suffered major damage; and 41,000 suffered
minor damage. Destroyed or damaged were 860 small businesses, 331 boats,
and 310 farm buildings.
Major damage in Corpus Christi was spread throughout the city. In
Aransas Pass, about one-half of the structures in the city suffered severe
damage. All structures at Port Aransas suffered damage, 55 percent of
which was severe.
Damage to telephone communications was estimated at $8 million. Total
crop damage in the Coastal Bend was estimated at $60 million. Crop damage
in the wake of the hurricane across southern Texas was not so severe, but
ran into the millions of dollars.
Celia's extreme winds caused the greatest destruction. At the
cooperative weather station at Aransas Pass the highest sustained wind
speed was 130 mph. The anemometer blew down after measuring wind gusts of
150 mph from the northeast. According to Robert L. Herndon, Cooperative
Weather Observer, winds were much stronger on the back side of the storm.
Aransas Pass was in the north quadrant of the hurricane's eye for 30 to 40
minutes. The maximum sustained wind at the Weather Bureau Office at Corpus
Christi International Airport was 125 mph with a gust of 161 mph occurring
at 5:28 p.m., CDT. A peak gust of 138 mph was observed at the Reynolds
Metal Plant near Gregory.
The highest tides generated by Hurricane Celia were 9.2 feet above MSL
and 9.0 feet above MSL, at Port Aransas Beach and Port Aransas Jetty,
respectively. These occurred about 2:40 p.m., CDT, on the 3rd.
The lowest station pressure recorded on land was 28.03 inches (949 mb),
at 4:45 p.m., CDT, at Aransas Pass. The station elevation is 18 feet above
mean seal level.
Deaths indirectly caused by Celia occurred along the Florida Panhandle,
where 8 persons drowned in the heavy surf and rip current generated by
Celia, then located near the center of the Gulf of Mexico, approximately
300 miles away.
In Cuba, 4 persons drowned due to flooding from heavy rains. One man
was electrocuted when he tried to retrieve a downed powerline, making the
total 5 in Cuba.
Share Your Memories!
What do you remember about Hurricane Celia? Have you any compelling stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)
Your Memories Shared!
"I remember this storm vividly even though I was only 14 years old. I am 46 now. I have been through 5 hurricanes including Carla as a toddler, Camille, Beulah, Celia and Alicia. I have been in a 130 mph hurricane and it was nothing like Celia. Celia's sustained winds had to be much higher in my area of the city. I lived on Parade Drive just south of the city towards the Naval Air Station. I recall looking out our windows (the wind was blowing parallel to them, not head on). The palm trees were all down on my street and flapping in the breeze like holding a piece of paper out your car window at 70 mph. I was impressed by the surreal scene because the trees which normally stood 30 to 40 feet high were laying slightly above ground level and looking like minature trees. I had never seen winds affect at those speeds on trees that size. Pieces of homes and roofs were blowing back and forth down the street. The rain was truly flying sideways to the ground. Not even a slight angle to the ground. It was perfectly parallel. Some people describe the high winds of a hurricane as sounding like a freight train. The sound that inundated us for 2 or 3 hours was like a gargantuan whistle blowing across our house. There is no way to describe decible level. The sound was not only a continuously loud bass that rattled your chest, but shrill and stacato at the same time. I cant describe it. It was an impossible sound in my mind. How could anything on this earth sound like that. My dog and I got under the bed at that point for 2 or 3 hours. I did not have to call my dog, it was his idea and I thought it was a good one. I cant remember what my parents or my sister were doing. My youngest brother had been born, but I cant recall anything he was doing at the time either. I was totally fixed by the storm and new that my house was going to explode at any minute. When the eye wall passed over there was the calm that people talk about. What impressed me was the blue sky and the birds circling in the air, not knowing where to go. A mile or so away the clouds went from the sky to the ground. It was very strange and looking back later I knew that to be the wall of the other side. I looked off in the distance across a golf course that was within a quarter mile of us. I watched the tree line along the course, the rain swallowed them up and they disappeared as the other side of the wall came our way. I went back in the house and under my bed again. When the other side of the wall came, everything that was laying down in one direction flew over and snapped off, flying away in the wind.
When it was all over, my friends and I went out and looked at the damage. The Woolco department store was completely flattened. Every other house in our neighborhood had severe damage. We were without electricity for 3 weeks after the storm. Why doesn't anyone talk about this one on the news when they talk about hurricanes of the 20th century. I will never forget every moment of Celia."
"I was in Aransas Pass during this storm when I was 10 years old. I will never forget it. I watched through one small window (that we later boarded up) an entire trailer park adjacent to my grandmother's house with probably over 150 trailers desintegrate. Entire 60-70 foot trailer houses were flying thru the air, sometimes landing in neary stacks of trees. A ford pickup parked beside the house with a standard transmission lugged about40 yards down the drive. During the second part of the hurricane, the truck lugged all the way back.
Lucky for my family, we did not stay in Port Aransas in our own house. It was leveled."
"Yes, I remember this hurricane I was living in Corpus Christi at the time and I was going to be a senior in high school that year. As I recall, my family did not go to a shelter. Instead, we chose to stay in our apartment. It was quite scary, but we made it through with little damage. The power was out for about 1 week."
"I had just graduated from high school in Corpus Christi in May when Celia hit in Aug. My family sought shelter at Ray High School, my alma mater. We stayed overnight and the destruction we saw the next day was unlike any other hurricane we had weathered. Driving home was difficult because all the landmarks like street signs and fences surround people's back yards were gone. Upon arriving home we were lucky that only the windows of our home had been blown out, the structure was undamaged except for pieces of glass in the walls from the shattering windows and water damage. There was no electricty for two weeks. My mother would stand in line trying to get ice to keep my diabetic brother's insulin cool. Everyone grilled the meat in their freezers. Our telephone was the only one around that was still working. Strangers would come to our home to make phone calls. I remember the Woolco store being flattened on Staples St. My brother was a disc jockey in Port Lavaca at the time. He is a rabid hurricane follower. He had phoned us early on and said the storm was going to be much worse than what was being reported and that we should seek shelter. He said it was too late to call for evacuation. It would create mass panic. Thank goodness for that phone call because otherwise we would have ridden Celia out at home and I would have been sitting on the bed in my room when that window blew out!"
"I was 10 yrs old and visiting my grandparents along w/my two sisters and two brothers when Hurricane Celia hit Texas. They lived near Corpus Christy at the time.
My grandparents did not feel we had enough time to get out before it hit so we stayed at their house until the eye of the storm arrived. It was so scary, the floors kept rising and falling, we saw huge trees being pulled up and slammed down all around us as we watched. I still remember a person in a truck driving on the road in front of the house and we saw it get blown off of the road!
We stayed at my grandparents house until the eye arrived. At that time, they drove us to the grocery store my uncle worked. There were many other people who did the same thing. We were all walking around the store when suddenly people started yelling "Go to the back of the store!" Just as everyone got back there, the store's front/roof fell in, almost killing my uncle and a co-worker! The manager of the store was so kind, he made sure everyone was as comfortable as possible and handed out shoes to those of us who didn't have any on, as well as handing out food and drinks for everyone.
To this day, I am so fearfull of storms, especially those with high winds!"
"I don't have any technical information to give you, but I was there when Celia hit. I was in the Navy assigned to NAS Sqaudron VT-29. I was married and lived off base in Flour Bluff. I remember after the storm was over we were without electricity for a week or so. There was also a curfew every evening and the police would drive around telling people to get off of the streets or they would be shot on sight. Mainly because of the looting that went on. People would actually sit at their place of business with shotguns guarding their possesions. The curfew became a little later with each night. We couldn't use the water for the first couple of days, then we eventually was able to use it for washing, and finally after 3 or 4 days we were able to drink it again. The first day or two after the storm it was literally impossible to drive on the roads, and gas was very hard to come by. There was a station by my house that had a generator to run one gas pump at a time. People would wait in line for maybe an hour to buy only two dollars worth of gas. Of course two dollars bought a lot more gas in 1970 than it does now. Grocery stores were selling their meat products for next to nothing. You could buy a huge steak for 30 or 40 cents, because they didn't have any way of keeping it cold. And if you've ever lived in southern Texas in August....well you get the picture. My wife and I lived in a section where everyone was in the military. Celia showed her face right after payday so everyone had fresh groceries. Since we didn't have electricity we would pool our food and have BBQ's every night. It was a very hard time for everyone, but I have to say it also brought everyone together. It is definitely a storm I will never forget."
"I was is the Coast Guard, stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Point Baker at the time of Celia. Our home oprt was Port Aransas but decided to move inland to the Corpus Christy ship channel. It was quite the storm. We were tied to the Coast Guard Depot docks with double lines and rode it out observing the shrimp fleet from Aransas Pass and surrounding areas while tied to the same ship docks, one by one break away and get tossed around in the ship channel and onto other shrimp boats and then finally sinking. Not one or two but quessing 50 to 100 shrimp boats sunk and three times as many severly damaged.
At one time the Coast guard Cutter Mallet, tied up behind us radioed that their lines holding them to the dock were breaking and that they had no othere to keep them tied to the dock. While on the bridge of my own boat, after recieving the radio message, I volunteered to cary our extra line, the one we used to tow ships, down the dock to them. It was not that easy. This rope was nylon, 927 feet long, double braided witha core. Very heavy when wet and very long. The winds were strong only allowing me to advance a few feet at a time. The distance to cary the big rope was approx. 100 feet. The rain with the wind was going sideways and sometime up. Well, I made it down to a small building tied down to the dock, about the size of four phone booths put together. There were many ropes attaching it to the dock. By the time I made it down to this Quartermaster Shack the winds were more intense, I was soaked and so was the towing rope I was draging. One of the men from the Mallet managed to get off his boat onto the dock. I first noticed him flying parrell to the dock about six feet off the ground. The wind had picked him up and carried him like a toy. I dove out, tackled him and brought him down to the dock landing on the back of my right hand. My hand had split open about two inches and blood was everywhere. I wrapped it up with a hankerchief and together with the mand from the Mallet through the ling to their boat allowing them to winch themselves back to the dock. There was 14 men onthat boat and certainly all would have been lost. The mans last name was Wolfe. He was a first class engineman. Nothing else was ever said abot that storm except but for the greatful men on that boat. I rarely talked about that storm but this is a story that needed to be told. I was crazy and stupid to volunteer but wauld gladely do it again. The Coast Guard Men and Women are a rare breed and I am glad to have been a part."
"I was 5 years old when celia hit Corpus Christi. My mother was a telephone operator at southwestern bell. In the event of a natural disaster such as this on operators are asked or rather required to stay and try to help. So it was me and my 2 older brothers 10 and 11 home alone to weather the storm. My uncle was on his way from San Angelo to try to help us through the storm and he just made it before the storm hit. I still wonder how he got past the ccpd when they were strongly suggesting that people evacuate. Anyway I remember 3 things that really made an impression on me.
#1. While the first part of the storm is pounding our house my uncle is trying to keep us calm. He at one point told my middle brother to check the master bedroom to see if everything looked o.k. the very instant he walked through the door the window broke and created a suction which closed the door behind him. So me my big brother and my uncle are on one side of the door pushing and my middle brother is on the other side pulling. With the strength of 3 young boys and one grown man we were barely able to get the door opened enough to get my brother out. After we got him out the door slammed shut and it seemed to build up pressure until the door frame and all came flying down the hallway.
#2. I will never forget before the second part of the storm hit the eye came over us. We all went outside it was so calm the sun was shining you could see a few clouds but nothing menacing. Then here it came again I was so scared I didn't know what to do. But we mede it through with a couple of cuts and bruises and nothing left of my mom's room.
#3. I remember the front page of the newspaper the next day or say it was a telephone pole with a piece of straw sticking all the way through. Anyway that is one hurricane I will never forget."
" We moved into Portland, TX 4 days ahead of Celia (8-3-70). I left work in Corpus Christi at 10 AM and headed home. At 2 pm the NW wind speed increased and the rain was falling horizontal until 5 pm. We could hear glass breaking and ominous noises on the 2nd floor as our family crouched down in the south end of the house. At 5pm the wind speed was minimal and the sun was bright. As we walked thru the house we could see there was no roof (just sky), broken glass everywhere, and water soaked contents & carpeting.We went outside and talked with the folks up and down the street---everyone wondered if that was the end or just the EYE of the hurricane. At 5:25 pm we found the answer--it was the EYE that passed over Portland. The wind again increased for a repetition of the earlier 3 hours except the horrendous wind and rain were from the SE direction. We changed our position to the Master BR closet with a door facing the north. We kept a matress over our families heads in the event the upper story of the house would disintegrate over us. At 8:30 pm the wind decreased and we were able to leave in our car during heaavy rain heading for a San Antonio motel. WHen we returned to Portland 2 days later, there were dog houses, small boats, and other debris in the streets and on lawns. Our wooden 2x6 roof rafters roof were stuck in the rear neighors yard like javelins landing and all fences were flattened, Neighbors from 2-3 blocks away returned slides to us. We lived in a trailer for nearly 5 months and moved back into the reconstructed house 1 week before Christmas.The Corps of Engineers and Red Cross did a fine job helping everyone without electricity or gas for about 3 weeks, The Corps picked up debris placed at the curb and the Red Cross supplied food at the school cafeterias for townspeople."
"I was only 11 when Celia blew through Rockport, TX. I remember evacuting for the storm. I was so afraid we wouldn't have a house when we returned home, but we were some of the lucky ones. We were without electricity for about a week. I remember seeing a huge fuel tank that had blown almost a mile from where it had been originally. A fuel tank in Ingleside ruptured and was burning. We could see the glow from the fire from our home, about 20 miles away. The local drive in movie theatre was gone, and the owner put "Gone With the Wind" on the marquee. The Red Cross brought in bottled water and we had to go to the local VFW for shots because of all of the standing water and mosquitoes."
"I was 10 yrs old when Celia passed through Aransas Pass,TX. Large trees were plucked from the earth. A trailer park had just opened up next door and the metal from the trailers was vibrating eerily through the air along with household items. Then the eye passed--a period of total silence and calm. Next, the tail of the storm lashed bringing more water. Later, fish and water moccasins swam around our yard. The trailer park was gone, looking like an explosion had destroyed it."
"I remember that day - August 3, 1970 - 27 days before my 16th birthday. It was a day that I thought at the time would be my, and my family's last. We experienced the storm in my father's new 1970 Ford Galaxy, parked on a sidewalk adjacent to a building across the street from Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi.
We went there that day upon learning that my aunt (mom's sister) and her family had been in a severe late morning accident as they tried to evacuate the city. They lived in Calallen and during Hurricane Beulah (relatively mild in comparison to Celia), their home had been damaged by one of its many tornadoes. A car ran a stop sign and its driver was killed instantly when my aunt's car struck his door. My aunt suffered massive head and neck injuries and was not expected to live. In spite of the approaching storm my mother wanted to try to reach her sister before she was gone. We left our home in Refugio - already prepared for the blow - and drove to Riverside Hospital in two cars, the Ford and my mother's Chrysler. Our miscalculations: we expected another Hurricane Beulah or Tropical Storm Fern in terms of intensity, a landfall well north of Corpus, and the ability to stay at the hospital with my aunt during what we thought would be her final hours. We were ultimately wrong on all counts. At Riverside, we found that she had been transferred to Memorial. The winds were rising quickly during the twenty minute drive to Memorial. We went into the hospital and were able to see my aunt, unconscious, for only a moment as she was being wheeled once more to surgery. It was at that time that we were told that we would have to leave the hospital - that it was not a designated shelter. My father's protests were answered by a threat to have security physically remove us if we did not leave (I wouldn't have believed this could happen in that situation - in a hospital no less - if I hadn't heard it with my own ears)... ...and so we left. My mother, understandably upset, had lost the keys to her car. My family managed to reach the Ford in the parking lot, after which we looked for shelter - any shelter. Returning to Refugio - 45 miles distant - was obviously out of the question by that time. The shelter that we found was the leeward side of a clinic building across the street from the hospital - we could have gone no farther. There, we listened to a local radio station for as long as we could, and heard the reports of increasing peak wind speed. I think the last we heard reported was 125 mph. After that, the radio station went off the air and we watched the storm get worse - much worse. We later learned that gusts near the center reached a confirmed 161 mph and in some areas an estimated 180 mph. The view from the front seat of that buffeting car was at once awesome and terrifying and for hours, I fully expected the end to come at any second. There were times when we could see nothing in the late afternoon light but the blur of muddy, wind-driven rain and the streaks of unidentified debris flying past. Visibility was only a few feet beyond the windshield. Intermittantly, the rain and wind would subside and we saw snapshots of the surrounding buildings as they were progressively dismantled. The storm subsided at dusk. It was then that we found the hospital's parking lot in shambles. Small cars had been tossed by the wind. My mother's heavy car, still upright, was a wreck - paint sandblasted by flying debris, all glass except for the windshield and right front passenger window gone, water filling the floor to door level.
I am thankful that we survived, including my aunt who endured multiple surgeries for the next two years, and that the loss of life in Corpus Christi was mercifully small, but the devastation we saw as we drove through and away from the city that night was something I'll never forget.
I have yet to see, on The Weather Channel, The Discovery Channel, or anywhere else on television - anything that remotely approaches the scenes of that day. They simply do not capture the intensity of the heart of a storm such as Celia. I'm always amused when I see the hurricane reporter standing there in the brisk wind in his slicker, holding the microphone and delivering his report about the ferocity of the storm. He is obviously well-removed from the storm's center, or the storm itself is weak when compared with Celia's core.
Those who were there know - he would not have stood that day in Corpus.
..and I have never underestimated the power of a hurricane since."
"We lived on the north side of the Nueces bay at east White Point. Celia demolished and scattered our house leaving only part of a closet. We tracked a tornado like path which came through our house amd continued forward 300 yards. Trees, wiring, and everything else was twisted with pieces of shingles stuck deep into tree trunks with some trees ripped and twisted from the ground. The wind force was unbelievable."
"I lived in Robstown at the time of Hurricane Celia. I was only 13 years old at the time. The hurricane destroyed my grandmother's house where we lived. After the house was blown down, we escaped to a garage outbuilding made of cinder block where we rode out the remainder of the storm. My dad decided to take us to my mother's parents house on Lake Mathis some 30 miles away. This happened after the wind died down. I don't know if the eye of the storm was over us the whole time but I don't recall any high winds during the trip. The road that leads to my mother's parents house had a huge Mesquite tree blocking it but fortunately there were people there with a chainsaw cutting a path for us to pass. I remember power lines down all along the way and a two story house that was leaning and screams of help from the people inside. Another car going the opposite way had stopped to help. Remember all this occured in the dark and gave an eery feeling. We arrived at my mother's parents house safely and lived there with them until we moved to Rockport where my dad worked about the first week of September. We had gone three weeks without electricity and I remember PawPaw taking his frozen meat to a locker and begging them to let him keep the meat there to no avail. So, we had this big BBQ and invited the neighbors. We also had visitors from LaPorte where we used to live. Remember communications weren't what they are today and our friends were worried. My dad got a call from his brother in Dallas because he too was worried. This was the first time I had seen a car phone.
Years later before I got married in 1982, I found out my future father-in-law worked in Corpus Christi on the cleanup. One night he worked late and was thrown in jail for breaking curfew."
"I was in the Coast Guard stationed on the Naval Base and rode out this storm in our hangar. Our wind gauge read 200 mph and then was blown off the top of the hangar. The chain link fence was bent parallel to the ground. The wind broke the large chain we had holding the hangar doors closed .The wind blew off 4000 sq.ft . of the hangar roof before we could get the doors clsed again. The falling debris damaged the helecopters in the hangar.
WE stood in a hallway in ankle deep water and the concrete walls
actually were moving like rubber. We han no electricity for 10 days. The whole experience was very frightening. I wrote an essay about it while I was in college after I got out of the service. The instructor was so impressed with the way I wrote about my experience that he read it to all his classes."
--Petty Officer Armer
"I lived in Corpus Christi during Hurricane Celia and believe me, anyone who went thru that storm will not be convinced of the assesment of Celia as a Category 3 hurricane. I remember looking out and seeing a washer and dryer bouncing down the street like a pair of basketballs. We had to nail the front door shut and the garage door shut to keep them from being sucked open. The Naval housing was totally destroyed...we were without power for 5 days and some people were without power for 3 weeks."
"I was 13 years old that year, August 3, 1970, and had a fishing trip planned with my Dad that morning. Naturally we cancelled, as we heard a small storm was headed our way. We had already been through Carla and Buelah so thought this would be no big deal. Suddenly about noon, it became a big deal and we scrambled to get ready; it was too late to evacuate. We boarded up, braced ourselves, bottled up drinking water. Suddenly our green corrugated patio cover ripped off and flew over the house into the street, it was 3 PM. The power flickered off. What seemed only minutes later the roof of a neighbors home lifted off and crashed into my room. The foot thick utility pole snapped like a twig falling inches from the house. Trees crashed to the ground, shingles were floating through the air like fallen autumn leaves. Then, like turning off a light switch, the storm stopped; the "eye" was passing, we were only halfway thru the storm. As mom and daddy checked for damage, I raced outside to see if "my world" was still intact. Neighbors were checking on each other, as some had already sustained major damage and injuries. The blue sky overhead was now darkening slightly, the wind had changed and was strengthening; it was time to get back inside, as the worst was yet to come. I don't remember what time of day it was, probably around 5PM. Celia's winds slammed us again with a more angry fury than before. Realizing, in horror, the winds were much more than the expected 95 mph, my mother drained the bathtub (earlier she had filled water for use post-storm), daddy grabbed a flashlight and I grabbed by transistor/weather band radio, and my dog, Schatze. As breaking glass exploded around us, daddy and I rasseled with a twin size mattress that he feared we would need for cover. The sound of the wind is something I will never forget, it wasn't even a "howl", it was more like a freight-train, so intense that we could no longer hear each other, even if we shouted; we could no longer hear the destruction, we could only feel the tremors of our home crumbling around us. As Celia raged, we huddled in that small bathroom. It was like a black and white movie with no sound, but you just "knew" what was happening. We climbed into the bathtub, mom clutching the dog, daddy and I holding the mattress overheard like a shield, our last line of defense; our last hope for survival. I don't know how long we were in that tub, I don't remember the sun going down, I just remember being able to hear my mom crying and my dad telling her the storm was over. Only then do I remember the shattered glass embedded in my legs, as the fear that had overwhelmed me now subsided and the sensation of pain returned. We made our way through water, bricks, sheetrock and glass (in our den) by the beam of a flashlight to our front door. We peered out into total blackness, only starlight in the clear sky above was visible. We embraced, we cried, we thanked God for keeping us safe. Another Monday of my life had ended. My family had survived. I would have the chance to start high school in September. Although the scars on my legs have dissappeared, and the walls of that house on Rice Drive were rebuilt (I still own the house today), the scars of that day, August 3rd, 1970, ripped in my memory by Celia's power, will remain as long as I live."
--Cindy Schuetze Hartley
"I was living in Portalnd through this storm. The eye went directly over us. My home sustained some roof damage. All my neighbors homes were totally destroyed. This hurricane was one that should have been rated as a cat 4 in my opinion. We were told winds in Portland reached 165mph."
"My husband managed a Winn's Store in the Annaville area of Corpus Christi. We were awaiting a shipment of tape, batteries, etc. from the San Antonio warehouse when the first squalls hit. An official (from San Antonio) called just as we were leaving to ask if we were still open; my husband exclaimed, "Man, there's a hurricane blowing in!"
We were home a few minutes before the wind got serious. I had been sitting on our couch watching the winds when my husband went to the front door to hold it closed; I went over to help him and just seconds later, the double windows blew in over the couch. The force of the wind blew out two side windows. We felt the house shudder but, thankfully, that depressurized the house. But - we were terrified!
Two weeks prior to the storm, my husband had cleaned the garage and put all the baby furniture in the rafters (crib, stroller, etc.); the garage roof ended up in the field behind our house. (We had to get all new baby stuff the following Nov.)
Back to the Winn's store. The windows were boarded with 12 sheets of plywood. Pieces of them were found behind the store. The shipment from San Antonio was a complete loss as was most of the mdse. in the store. Most of our area was without electricity and phone service for two weeks.
A visit to my parents for a hot shower and air conditioning was VERY welcome!
The brick homes in the area were the hardest hit. It appeared as if a giant sledgehammer had been at work.
The repairs on the house were not completed until Dec. We moved back into the house Jan. 1 with a new baby boy to grace our newly fixed home!"
"I grew up in Robstown, Tx and have been through Carla, Beulah, Celia, and Allen. I have many memories of each. I will share some of these concerning Celia. When the storm was first coming in I went out to help my dad (letter carriers only got to leave their job when it was nearing) put up corrugated tin over the windows of our rental property. Into the storm we had to go out again through downed lines to put one back up that had been torn off. It was about that time that the roof of the car port fell nearly missing one of our renter's vehicle. I spent most of the day light hours watching the storm through the upper part of a French door we had in our kitchen. My mom kept saying,"Will you close that window!" We were both shocked when our 23 year old hackberry tree just split down the middle. One part that sticks out in my mind is when I thought the eye was going over and decided to walk out to the corner of the block to look down the street. Beulah had dumped a lot of rain and flooded the streets. There was a strong enough current the next day that I laid on a neighbor's surfboard and was carried down the street. I was curious as to how flooded things were gettingwith Celia. It didn't seem all that calm. By the time I was turning to walk back to the house the winds picked up. I had a hard time making it back inside. Later that night I was in the livingroom with my family riding out the storm. The announcer on the transistor radio reported that downtown Robstown has been destroyed. That turned out to be far from the truth--thankfully. The next day I was up early and walked from my house to the other side of town climbing through downed trees and missing electrical wires. I remember the smell of bar-b-que and the sound of chainsaws. Although there was quite a bit of crime back then I had no problem sleeping with my bedroom window open. Two weeks went by before I had my first Coke on ice. It was wonderful. I am not sure of the reason, but my personal telephone line (my parent's had their own line) was hooked up first and people (seems to me police or business people) were coming to the house to use it.
I have a book that was printed for us called "Celia Was Her Name." While never talked about on tv specials no one will ever convince us that she wasn't a major storm. We were told that at our local airport there was a wind gust clocked at 204 mph. If you had seen the destruction, you wouldn't find that hard to believe."
"While I had just turned 15 when Celia hit Corpus Christi I remember it vividly. We watched from our house as our garage roof was destroyed before our eyes. Having lived in Louisiana and Texas through the years we had weathered many hurricanes (Carla & Camille) but nothing had prepared us for the devastation we experienced with Celia. It was a fast moving storm that developed quickly and gave little chance to evacuate. My father worked for the phone comapany at the time and I remember being without power or phones for 3 weeks and not seeing him for about 4 as the repair crews worked night and day."
"I was in the Coast Guard stationed at Corpus Christi the day Celia came calling. I rode out the storm on a little bouy tender (CGC Clematis) tied at the dock at CG Station.
We took a beating and nearly all the "Aids to Navigation" we maintained were wiped out.
Two observations I made were: A shipmates Volkswagon was picked up and tossed into the water from the station parking lot. Also, the mobile home structure that Captain of the Port utilized for an office was totally disintegrated with the under frame landing in a field nearby and the house pieces literally flying through the air in all directions.
It wiped out my home completely. I had a small apt on the north beach area. I recall rowing a canoe up to the window of my home and seeing the total loss of everything I owned.
It took the CG several weeks to restore the Aids to navigation in the area, working around the clock.
People don't seem to ever recall Celia when talking about bad storms of the past. From a personal observation, she was as devastating as nearly any hurricane to ever hit Texas. I know the damage exceeded a Billion dollars along the Texas Coast."
--Albert L Scott
"I was 34 when Celia hit my home of Corpus Christi, Texas. My parents owned the Turner Motel on Hiway 9 which I managed. When I heard about the storm I called my mom, she said dad was at work at the Naval Base, or Aradmac, as it was known back then. I went and bought plywood and duck tape and started in working on the window of the motel. My mother came and took my two children Leisa age 9 and Dean age 3 to her home so they would be safer. When it did hit it was more than I expected. The wind blew so hard, I kept seeing huge pieces of tin blow by as I looked through a crack in the door, and thinking we don"t have any tin on the Motel. I was in the office and water was up to my knees, I looked up to see an 18 wheeler parked across the street at another motel with a trailer attached just blow over on it side. Then our sign which was about 20 feet in the air and with about a 10" iron pipe in the ground just bent double like a match.
By this time I thought it would be best if I moved to the living quarters of the motel. I stood there awhile watching all this tin going by. Then I heard a loud slam and after a few minutes I found the cause. It was the roof rising and falling in my bedroom. I thought it was time to leave, so I waded out in to the courtyard of the motel, I could see power lines flashing in the water around me. I made it to an empty room and slamed the door behind me and waited out the storm. The eye passed and there was total calm, then here it came again from the backside. I sat on a couch wraped in a blanket. waiting.
When I could not hear the wind howling, I opened the door. I was in shock, water was everywhere at first I thought it was the Gulf or ocean, but no it was just a lot of rain water. As I looked at the damage I could not believe what I was seeing. All the screen door handles on the motel rooms were mashed flat, like someone had taken a hammer and beat them. And the pieces of tin I kept seeing were not from the motel but were pieces of mobil homes from the trailer park that was about 5 blocks away. I had no electric or phones. I had to get to my children there was nothing left of the motel. I got in my car and tried the water was everywhere and the power lines danced on the water.
I was cold and crying and at the same time mad at myself because I could not get to them. It took hours to drive maybe 10 miles on the way I met my dad he was trying to get to me. I told him there was nothing left of the motel, he told me the children were ok, but their home was heavly damaged. I got to mother and my children, there were no windows, glass everywhere, but my family was alive. Mother had went under the bed with my children, although she had trouble keeping my 3 year son under there. When it was all over we were told that the wind hit 187 mph, and I believe that.
We had no phone service for a month and no electricity for weeks. We paid a $1. 00 for a bag of ice, this was when ice was 15 cents a bag. The only way we could get gas, because the pumps worked on electricy, was to find a station that had a lawnmour hooked up to it to pump gas and that was $2. 00 a gallon. This was my 3rd storm, but it was by far the worst. We slept out in the courtyard of the motel and we had people beging for just a matterss to sleep on. I would not want to experience that again, but now I am older and wiser."
--Diane Finlay Williams
"I lived in Corpus Christi and remember Celia very well. It hit on my parents 20th Wedding Anniversary. We had been told on Sunday that it would just be small storm of 95mph or so. We thought we would be sitting and playing games through it. Wrong! My father did nail up a piece of plywood over our sliding patio glass door and we did fill the bathtubs with water. . . but we had no batteries for the radio or flashlights. We had no idea of what was coming when the power went out.
When the storm came in we were shocked at the intensity of the winds. Our front living room window shattered and blew glass in while my mom was standing in there. Luckily she was not hit. Our front door blew open and it took all four of us to hold it shut, while my father nailed it to the door frame. The pressure in the house became so great that the piece of wood covering the opening to the attic actually moved back on its own.
I remember it being black as night and the noise of the wind sounding like a freight train. When the eye passed over us, we went outside amazed at the blue sky and calm. It didn't take long for the clouds and wind to come back with a furry.
After the storm passed, my father and I decided to go out and buy batteries at Gibson's discount store. We were stunned to see houses gone and sides of houses missing. There were no fences left and debris was everywhere. An apartment building near us on Staples was missing the roof and parts of walls. You could look in and see furniture sitting there like nothing had happened. We turned around and went back home, realizing for the first time, how bad Celia really was.
Our area had no power for three weeks. Everyone ate very well at first since they had to cook everything in their freezer or lose it. My father finally took us to Houston to stay with my grandparents until power and phone service was restored. "
"I was getting ready to start high school when Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christi. I had been through Carla and Beulah, but these were mild in comparison.
What I remember most about this storm is that sections of fence flew through the air as though they were pieces of paper. The sliding glass door in my friend's house where I spent the storm bowed inward (what seemed like several inches). We sat in the hallway and listened as the station the radio was tuned to was demolished by their own tower when it fell onto the station.
When it safe to venture outside, we were horrified to see houses leveled by the incredible winds. What was so strange is that in many cases, houses standing on either side of those that had been destroyed were barely harmed. A family in our church weathered the hurricane in an interior closet as their house crumbled around them--evidence of God's grace and mercy.
After the storm, downed fences and no airconditioning brought neighbors out of their homes. We gathered in my front yard. The man next door played his guitar, and we sang and shot the breeze. Despite the heat, humidity, and limited water supply, I have good memories of those days after the storm--when neighbors were friends, and Corpus Christi managed to pick up the pieces from the wrath of Hurricane Celia. "
"I was 16 when Celia hit and I too am upset when Celia is never mentioned as a serious hurricane. We were told not to worry because it was just a minor hurricane. Four hours later I was sure we were going to die.
We (my mom, stepdad and myself) spent hours in the formal living room watching the roof blow off, the fence coming through all our windows and listening to the endless howl of wind. We were one of the few who still had a phone and called the Civil Defense to come help us. We found out later they had to be rescued from their car in Pharoah Valley because of high water. Later my stepdad was wiping up water in front of the patio window when it blew in and cut an artery in his hand.
We wrapped his hand up as best we could and when it all stopped I had to go to the neighbors to see if someone could take him to the hospital. There were 2 x 4's shot into cinder brick walls, steel girders twisted like pretzels and the scene was unbleievable!! Small storm my foot!!!"
"I was 7 yrs. old and lived on Chase St. when Celia hit our house in Portland. At first it was exciting with the wind and rain but soon it became absolutely terrifying. I remember the sound of the glass breaking in 2 of the bedrooms and almost injuring my mom as she walked down the hallway. The patio covering in the backyard blew off into the field behind us.
The sound of the wind was so loud that you almost had to yell to be heard. The front door wouldn't stay shut so my dad put a mattress against it and pushed as hard as he could to keep it blowing open. I remember my dad was very concerned that a tornado might spawn and cause the house to explode. He told my mom and my sister and me to get in the closet while he held the front door shut. I remember sitting in the closet to this day with my mom and sister with a blanket over our heads while the storm raged all around us. It was so scary because you really weren't sure from one moment to the next if the walls would give in.
After the storm was over we went outside and saw that our neighbor's brick house across the street was missing an entire side of his garage wall. There was no running water or electricity for a long time after that. It was miserable and I'll never forget it."
"I was 22 years old when Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christi. I had just graduated from the University of Texas and was working for a grain company based in Corpus (Grain, Inc. ). I had been working at the country elevator in Mission, Texas when I was called to Corpus as the storm approached. The company had a country elevator in Port Lavaca and since we were in the middle of milo harvest there was a lot of grain on the ground there. T
he grain needed to be loaded on trucks and sent to the ports in Houston and Brownsville for shipment overseas. At the time the weather service thought the eye of the strom might hit Port Lavaca. We worked all day all night and into the next day getting all the grain loaded into trucks.
Three of us then headed back to Corpus to avoid the storm! I went to the company manager's apartment in Corpus since I was dead tired and couldn't make the drive back to Mission. Staying in Port Lavaca or driving on to Mission would have been a better move. When we found out the storm was heading directly to Corpus we gathered all the large furniture into one room to hide under it, filled the bath tub with water (for drinking later) and waited. There followed nothing but terror. I volunteered to crawl into the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of scotch only to drop the bottle when the back back blew in. Eventually the second floor of the apartment building blew off and I will never forget looking up from between the clustered furniture at the clear sky as the eye of the storm passed overhead.
The large company grain elevator in Corpus was destroyed and I finished my summer in Mission with a memory that has not faded with the years."
"I will never forget what hurricane Celia did to the Corpus Christi area as I was 14 years old and the news was making it sound like Celia was not going to be a big deal so my dad decided we would ride it out as we rode out Beulah. My mom went into work the morning before the storm was suppose to hit and I remember my dad calling her to tell her to come home because he heard the storm would be hitting sooner than anticipated. Mom convinced all the other workers to leave as well and it was a good thing because the offices and warehouse was a total loss due to hurricane destruction.
I remember when Celia hit the wind was so intense our house was breathing in and out and we were expecting it to blow up any minute. We moved to the center of the house because the constant battering from the high winds were such that my dad was scared we were going to die. I remember being mad at weather forecasters and my dad because I felt we could of left if my parents had not felt we could ride out storm. Our beautiful palm trees bent over like they were rubber, tops of trees touching ground.
Ever once in a while my brother and I would look out our back door window watching debris flying by. I couldn't comprehend the rain blowing sideways. The high pitched sound of the wind was deafening. The constant pounding of wind for hours made Celia one of the scariest things I have ever gone through and I do not ever want to go through another hurricane ever. Corpus Christi was declared a disaster area after storm was over and the devastation was such that President Nixon put us under martial law. We had no water no electricity for two or three weeks.
After storm the electrical lines were laying on the streets and people were told to not try to drive or walk around wires until power company could fix. My dad had to go out and buy a generator so we could save our food from spoiling. People could not leave city and no one was allowed in or out after hurricane. Luckily we filled our bath tub with water which no showers or baths could be taken. We could not flush toilets it was awful.
We had a curfew every evening because of the looting. I remember after storm the alarms and sirens going off in our area as we lived near a shopping center. We lived just 6 or 7 blocks off ocean front and our house thank goodness did not sustain alot of damage. I remember if you were caught out past curfew you were thrown into jail.
Why don't we ever hear about this hurricane? It made me aware of the power of a hurricane and that you do not sit around and wait to leave area that is going to be affected because people can't predict weather. Celia ended up being one of the worst devastating hurricanes in my lifetime."
"I was 8 years old when I was in Hurricane Celia. My family lived in Pasadena but I was visiting my aunt and uncle. My uncle was stationed at the naval air station. My parents had just dropped me off and headed back home when the hurricane warnings came out. My mother said my parents started to turn around and come back to Corpus Christi several times because they weren't sure of the track of the storm.
It turned out to be a good thing that they didn't. She rounded up all the Girl Scout Troops in our area, which we were a part of, to gather can goods in order to bring back a week later. The National Guard stopped her on her way in when they finally started letting traffic back in and told her to keep the can goods well covered up or she could get killed for them.
We took shelter at the naval air station. I was with two aunts (sisters) and two uncles. The one who was married to the sailor was also pregnant. I remember the cheering that when out when we lost the electricity. I didn't understand. You could hear the storm outside and it was loud. Another individual who wrote about Celia is right. The camera shots don't come close to helping anyone visualize what it is really like. Freight Train doesn't even come close.
I don't remember if it was before the eye or after it, but we were set up by a window in a corner. The storm - winds or debri I don't know - blew out the window and glass came flying at us. There was a lot of screaming and running. It really frightened me. Where we ran to and stop was by another window. I could hear people screaming upstairs in the building we were in and soldiers were running upstairs carrying big sheets of plywood. So when the second window blew, I just stood there in a panic with glass flying at me. Its kind of one of those things you see in slow motion. Then I aunt who was pregnant grabbed me, picked me up and ran with me to another part of the room. After that, I became hysterical. They gave us blankets and covers. I through a sheet over my head and wouldn't come out from underneath it. I just stayed under there crying. I also remember that at some point in the storm, I thought it was the eye, but that doesn't make sense now, my other aunt stuck her head out a window to see how bad it was and quickly jerked her head back. One of the big oil storage tankers went blowing by the window at that point. When my aunt gave birth, her baby was born without formed hip sockets and had to wear a brace. There was some speculation as to whether picking me up and carrying me might have caused the birth defect.
When we left the facility after the storm and went home, we couldn't drive down our street because of a huge tree blocking the street. I remember the top half of the Corpus Christi water tower was missing . . . just ripped off like a giant hand had twisted it off. To look at the front of my aunt's house, it looked fine and like it suffered no damage. In the living room was a picture on the wall that had come from Japan. It was a 3-diminsional picture of mountains with a bridge and a stream below. It looked like the hurricane had hit in the picture. The bridge was gone and some of the little trees were torn off. It was the oddest thing. We opened the bedroom doors and discovered that the Living room/Kitchen and bathroom were the only rooms left standing. All the bedrooms were gone.
We lived in that living room for a week and Spam was all there was to eat as far as meat goes. I remember the long lines for ice, too. To this day, I will never touch Spam."
"I was 6 years old when Celia hit Corpus Christi. We lived in a little house that was on a crawl space rather than a slab on the corner of Teak. I remember my parents and grandmother were all very tense and I knew something was coming but I didn't really understand. I remember looking out the front window (until I was told to stay away because it was dangerous) and seeing the trees whipping around and all the rain. My room was out on it's own with windows on 3 sides of it. I went into my room to get something and my floor was vibrating from the wind rushing around it. When the eye hit my father wanted to go out and inspect the damage but Mom wouldn't let him. We lost a chinaberry tree in the front yard, our fence in the back yard, the rear window of my mom's VW, and had some damage to the roof over my room. I remember going out in the front yard the next day and playing on the downed tree, using Dad's bathrobe belt as a vine to swing on. . . I got in trouble for that one! "
"I remember when my 3 brothers, 1 sister and 2 aunts were in my aunts house during Hurricane Celia.
I remember vividly the very well built house groaning and creaking sounds during the storm. The howling during the storm was incredible. I'll always remember that howling for the rest of my life. For hours the howling went on and it just didn't want to stop.
My aunts house was our shelter since my mom was working at Memorial Hospital during the storm(she saw cars flying across the parking lot, she told us later).
The L-shaped front of my aunt house faced east towards the bay and I at one point during the storm went out on the porch(wind coming from behind the house at this point) and started to watch a tin-metal building start losing it's roof piece by piece in a thunder-like sound of snapping as each piece flew off.
The whole time one of my aunts was telling me to get inside, but I was awe-struck by the violent way the panels were ripped off of the building. Slowly the building fell over on its side and at the same time that that was happening, the roof of the our porch started vibrating and I ran inside as its one and only corner post swung out from the concrete foundation and dumped a foot on solid ground. After that the porch just vibrated during the storm. Very strange.
I watched out the living room window towards the street as debris flew past horizontally, it was like watching a movie, but I was in it.
At one point the eye went right over my aunts house and I went outside and saw all the damaged buildings in our immediate area and then the wind picked up again and I ran inside. I can still see the debris rushing down Agnes street as if it were in a wind tunnel. The velocity was unreal. This couldn't possibly be really happening as I was watching, but it was.
I will never forget being without water or elctricity for 2 weeks and eating BBQ during that time.
Hurricane Celia had to be a Cat 4 or better. I went thru it and I saw what those winds were doing.
I went thru Beulah, Celia and Allen and If the next one comes my way and the winds are over 125, I'm not sticking around!!!"
""The summer of 1970 was a traumatic year for me. The dread of attending Junior High was at a high point in August, as September loomed just around the corner. But something even more traumatic would occur on Aug. 3, 1970. That morning I was at play with the usual neighborhood kids on East Vanderbilt St.
The hurricane was supposed to go North of Corpus and only had 90 mph winds at that time. We were attacking wasp nest in a tree at Mrs Brown's house(one of my favorite activities at the time)when my Mother came over to tell me that the hurricane was heading staight toward us. I had just gotten stung(surprise)when I was told I had to go in the house. The news was met with excitement by me and most of the other kids on this boring, hot summer day. I thought evilly that my revenge for being stung would probably come from the approaching hurricane which would hopefully blow the whole nest away.
After helping Dad with some "hurry up defense" preparations around the house we settled in for thr storm. Having been through Carla, which was a 175 mph storm in 1961, (minor for us with 80 mph winds) and Beulah in 1967 with 100 mph winds and a lot of rain, I was not daunted in the least over Celia and was looking forward to it.
The bad thing about Celia was not only the high gust, but that it seemed to strengthen rapidly right before it came on shore. At first it was pretty much what I expected it would be. But the winds seemed to get stronger and stronger way past the point that 90mph should be. But as I later learned the storm came in with 130-140 mph sustained, with incredible gusts. My excitement gradaully receded into terror as the day went on. When the tall palm trees that lined our street started to snap in half, I knew we were in trouble since they always swayed with the wind up to that point, no matter how high the wind speed. Then we heard and felt a loud crash in the back of the house near the dining room window, the next door neighbors garage had blown apart, with the roof laying in our back yard on top of the loquat tree.
The loud boom was from a board that hit the asphalt shingles on the side of our house right next to the window. Had the board hit head on instead of sideways, or went through the window, one of us probably would have been killed since it was inline with the living room we were in. Later my parents bedroom window was knocked out by a flying tree limb. I remember having to help dad get the door to the room closed to keep out the wind and rain. He tied an extension cord around the doorknob and tied the other end to my bedroom doorknob to keep it from blowing back open. It took both of us pulling to get the door to close. The wind and pressure were incredible. By this time I was close to tears because I truly believed that the house would be blown away.
Another hallmark of Celia was the duration of the storm, since the eye passed over us, we went through hours (it seemed to me days) of wind. Like I'm sure a lot of people did, we went outside to survey the damage while the eye was over us. It looked like a bomb went off, there were pieces of rock roofing material all over the place, tree limbs, trash cans and other assorted debris. Pieces of rock roof had even cut through our chain link fence which was sredded, and roof chunks were lodged under the cedar shingles of our garage.
I thought how a person could be beheaded if they were hit by a piece. Even at twelve years old, I was taken aback by all the damage and horrible things that could have happened, and the other half of the storm still had to pass through.
Act two of Celia began about 15 minutes after we went back inside. Dad knew how guickly the winds would pick up and wanted to make sure we were back inside well before it started up again. This was the part of the storm that took the neighbors garage apart and caused the most damage. After it was finally all over it was just getting dark. We could see a large fire in the distance which turned out to be a gas storage tank in Ingleside on the other side of the bay that blew up. Then the fun really started, no electricity for a week, nothing cold to drink, no a/c.
Just hours of waiting in line for a block of ice at Ray high school, using kerosene lamps at night, eating canned food, (after cooking all the meat and items that could spoil)trying to sleep in the hot and humid conditions of south Texas during August with the overwhelming sound of hundreds of frogs in the night. I know a lot of folks had it a whole lot worse than we did, but suffice it to say, It was more than enough for me to never hope another storm to come our way again.
The Baker J. H. S. gym completly lost it's roof, I remember playing volleyball in what was left of the gym, a floor an some partial walls, while the huge roof was laying several hundred feet away in the field like a giant cradle.
My first year of Junior high was about as bad as I thought it would be. I grinned as I thought how the wasp in that tree payed dearly, not only was the nest gone, the whole tree was gone. But I quickly lost that grin when I realized that we all payed dearly, and a lot of us would never be the same again"."
--James (Jimmy) Walker
"My wife and I had arrived at the Naval Hospital in Corpus Christi just a month before Celia. I was a medical officer in the Navy. Having grown up in New Orleans we had "ridden out" several hurricanes, most notably Betsy in 1965. We were in a townhouse complex off of the Naval Air Station when Celia arrived.
Our unit was fourth from the western end of the complex (contiguous wood-frame structures). In about 45 minutes, the first unit was totally gone, the second was just the frame, the third had about one half of the walls remaining, and ours remained about 90% intact. Of course we did not know this was happening during the storm. My wife and I and two screeching Siamese cats were huddled in a little bathroom under the stairs on the first floor of the townhouse. The noise of the wind was the loudest noise I have ever heard even to this date (2004).
The walls of the townhouse shook violently in a rapid fluttering oscillation through about four to six inches at probably 150 to 300 cycles per minute - like a flag on a flagpole standing straight out fluttering violently in a gale (these were the inside walls of the bathroom). For several minutes we were sure the dwelling was going to be blown away from right around us. Having no choice but to stay put as water (rain blowing in at over 100 mph through a blown-out picture window) rose from the floor, we thanked God when the wind finally abated.
The aftermath was dreadful. It was as if we had been transposed over a hundred years back in time. There was no power for weeks. The glass was blown out of all the windows. Everything we owned was soaked. We scavenged through rubble for miles around to find scraps of screen to at least keep mosquitoes out with a patchwork screen quilt. The most intact room in the dwelling was an upstairs bedroom, where we slept for weeks afterwards. The room was so small we could not move our bed out of the center under the light fixture. It poured down rain daily and the water stood forever on the flat roof dripping down through the damaged roof and the light fixture opening to continuously flow onto us as we slept under a plastic dropcloth on the bed. Ultimately we got housing on the Base.
The Married Officers' Quarters (MOQ's) that had been built in the 1940's had withstood the violence fairly well. The MOQ's that had just been built were totally destroyed - just pipes sticking up from barren slabs. It was common knowledge that winds of 180 or even 200 mph had been recorded.
The hurricane was the lasting memory of our time in the Navy. Whenever we get together with old friends from the time it is the major topic of conversation. I do not like hurricanes!"
"I was 9 years old when Celia hit Corpus Christi. My father was a Ham radio operator and had left earlier in the day to help with traffic by positioning himself at Sponn Hospital on the 3rd floor. He told us later (when he finally was able to come back home) that he was able to view the bayfront and that all the water had disappeared as far as he could see.
My mother and I had watched the TV stations disappear also along with the electricity. Our home was located across from Ray high school with Staples Street between. My mother yelled at me to stay away from the window (which was difficult to hear her due to the pressure drop) but my curiosity gave out and I watched our neighbor's large Spanish oak pull out of the ground and "dance" down Texan Trail Street like a scene out of The Wizard Of Oz! Mother finally told me to sit in the bathtub thinking that to be the safest place. My brother who was 17 at the time while visiting friends across town said his buddy's dad ripped the interior doors off the hinges and nailed them to the outside windows. The next day my dad had the family rummage through the neighborhood looking for shake shingle to fix the portion of the roof that has vanished. Interestingly two brick houses on our street had "disappeared. "
One was two houses down the other 6 houses down; only the slabs were left. My dad was a piano player. His performance the night before Celia arrived was across the main bridge. Two days later, he went back to check the status of his gig and the only thing left of the hotel where he played was the keys of the grand piano he had played.
Side note: The Petroleum Club, located atop the Petroleum Tower, had its grand piano fly out the top window to crash to the ground. We actually had fun during the power outage--we "camped" at home and had enough canned foods to tide us over. Kerosene was a new thing to us baby boomers but to my dad it had been an everyday thing growing up in Ohio. In January we moved across town (closer to the bayfront), purchasing a home from a family that didn't ever want to deal with another hurricane. We also left the coast in late 1972 to South Central Texas."
"My young family suffered through Hurricanes Beulah and Celia, both while living in Aransas Pass. I can verify that I saw the wind meters recording of wind gusts breaking the device at 180 mph.
I can just ditto the stories I have read by previous contributers here, but I have some questions concerning the lack of respect this storm (Celia) has been given by storm historians. It isn't mentioned for it's violence and record winds and damages, storm related deaths are understated, especially in the Aransas Pass shrimp basin where men stayed with their boats and were drown.
No one talks of the storm surge which left levels of water damage in the carbon black plant between Aransas Pass and Rockport at 17 feet. I've seen original copies of the plant's weather instruments where the barometric pressure's extreme and dramatic drop was of historic measures, I was told.
I saw National Guardsmen with orders to shoot to kill aim military rifles such as those used in Vietnam at the time aim the rifle at my head and the head of my sister-in-law that was 18 years old, and my two young boys that were 4 yrs. and 1 yr. old. , as we tried to negotiate streets in Aransas Pass. We were under martial law but didn't know it as we had no radio, and no electricity to hear the announcement. We left just before the storm hit, so I have no stories of the high winds and immediate impact of the storm, but driving back as soon as they would let us back in, was something I never want to experience again.
My question is this. While researching the Internet for information available on Hurricanes Beulah and Celia, I read where both storms were so bad that their names have been retired so that no storm will ever be named their names again. However, only a few years ago, (I can't remember when), I was astounded to hear a TV report of a Hurricane or Tropical Storm "Celia" that didn't happen to make an onland assault on the US. I was flabbergasted.
Can someone spread any light on why the name "Celia" was assigned to another Tropical Storm and/or Hurricane? It's incredible that this did happen, with so many names that start with the letter "C", I can't believe we have exhausted the supply so that a storm of such magnitude wasn't respected enough to be assigned to anohter storm. I will watch this site for an answer if someone knows.
Aransas Pass, Texas"
"I was 8 and I was with my grandfather in his new home. When my mother heard that celia was coming she thought that her father's house would be safer. When we were driving there I could hear the wind like something was going push our car over. It was raining but not as hard as what we were going to see in a couple of hours. When we got there It rained much harder. We rushed into his house. A couple hours arter we settled in our car got blowned away. 5 minutes after that 2 of the windows broke. The next door's neighbors house's roof blew off. 20 minutes later the storm was gone and people were walking into the street. Some were crying others were terrified of what they just been through. "
"As a young man, I used to work in uranium exploration and development in Corpus Christi in the Petroleum Tower building. When I heard that the hurricane was an hour offshore, I jumped into my Triumph TR-3 sports car with some belongings and headed to San Antonio where I flew to Phoenix for a two week vacation. My room mate stayed in the upstairs appartment to ride out the storm. I called the company two weeks later to return to work and my boss John Borkert, told me to take another week off because the town was still torn up.
When I finally came back to Corpus there were large sail boats on the city streets. The roof had partially blown off my upstairs appartment and there was still two inches of water on the floor. Both upper floors of the adjacent Chemical Bank building were completely gone. The steel corner beams were sticking up (a couple were even bent), as a reminder of the power of this storm. From the air photos it appeared that there were straight lines or lineaments where tornadoes had rendered a path of total destruction for the unlucky few. My roommate said, that he would never stay in town again to observe a hurricane."
"I was only 2 years old and my older sister was 8 when this storm hit our area. Me, my mother and older sister, along with other family members lived in the projects on Sam Rankin, just as you exit the Harbor Bridge leaving Gregory Portland. We were all evacuated out and taken to the basement at the Police Station on Martin Luther King/Brownlee.
I remember we lost our screen door, the roof of the projets were flying through the air. I remember alot of rain and peanut butter sandwiches floating in the water. My mom had 2 children and my auntie had her 4 children. This was a big storm for Corpus Christi."
--BARBIE from CC TX
"I was 15 when Celia hit Corpus Christi. We lived on Woodlawn near the Oso Golf Course. I remember we stocked up on water and canned goods before the storm although it seemed we didn't have much time to prepare. My Dad worked for Standard Oil. He and his buddies had to prepare the pump station on Padre Island before the storm hit. When he came home that day, we had a fried chicken dinner and it seemed not long after, all hell broke loose! The wind started screaming around the eaves of our little one story house after the storm moved in. We saw our carport starting to come apart and as we ran to the back of the house, the carport fell blowing in all the windows on that side of the house. It was a miracle we weren't hurt. In fact we lost all windows in the house except for 3. We ended up in my bedroom in the back of the house. Mom, I and our little dog Lady holed up in my closet while Dad snored on the bed - ha! He must have been worn out to sleep so soundly.
As for me, Mom and Lady, we were freaking out in the closet as the walls of the closet were shaking with the wind. We sat in ankle deep water and prayed that we would survive. I remember looking out my window (which was intact) and watching sheet metal slice through the air along with anything that wasn't bolted down. It seemed to me that Celia lasted forever! That evening we waded across the street in chest deep water to spend the night with our neighbors as everything in our house was soaked. The next day we pulled all the wet stuff out and put it in the yard to dry. It was so hot the next day that everything dried in one day!! We had probably 2 inches of muck - mud, gravel, tree limbs in our house. Leaves stuck to the walls. It was a mess. We started cleaning up and was able to get a loan from FEMA to repair our house. I remember the heat, boiling water for a week, taking cold baths, no electricity for over 2 weeks, potted meat sandwiches and no air-conditioning. In fact, it was thanks to our neighbor on the right as to when we got the electricity back. She was 8 months pregnant with 6 kids!! She found an electric lineman down the street and begged him to please turn on the electricity. He took pity on her and did!! Bless her heart! She was a trooper that lady was. Since Celia I've had no inclination to ever experience another hurricane. That one was more than enough for me."
--Robin B. Aguirre (Carla-Beaulah-Celia Survivor)
"Cotulla, Texas: I was 10 years old and I remember Celia like it was yesterday. We were some 70 miles inland and the eye passed right over the Haak Ranch, about 3 miles N. of Cotulla, TX. It was during the night that she passed over. It’s funny now to think that we lay in our beds as the winds screamed and howled. The old ranch house moaned and strained as the wind blew one way then the next as the eye passed right over the ranch house. The blow seemed to last all night while my giant feather bed gave me all the security it could give, the sound penetrated the thick quilt and pillows as I laid there in it. I trusted my Grandpa when he said it will be over soon and the house will hold up. He was right (but I’m sure he was just hoping it was so, and lucky to boot). He was a great big German man who was a builder and rancher. In my eyes, if he said it, it was true. Still that wind was unmerciful. The rifles and shotguns on the gun racks were as useless now as the fishing poles that leaned in the corner of my makeshift room on the back porch of the house. My Grandpas’ word and that bed was all I had.
Sometime during the night I fell asleep only to awaken to my Grandpa tugging on my big toe as he often did to wake me up. “Let’s go count the cows!” After a full breakfast prepared by my grandmother, we went outside where we were greeted by two of our Mexican ranch workers who spent the night holding onto a Mesquite tree after their lean too shelter was blown away. They had big grins on their face as they finished their breakfast around the little fire they made to dry their clothing and cook their food. Our horses, Windy and Tennessee, met us at the back gate that morning; they seemed to stay close to us all day. Those horses never stayed close before.
Grandpa and I fired up the old CJ-3a Willys Jeep and headed out to count the cows. The old Jeep chugged along in 4 wheel drive, sliding around in the red sand and silt that is indicative of the region. There was water everywhere. Faded red paint revealed the origin of corrugated tin roofing from a feed store in Pearsall TX about 30 miles north of the ranch. The stock tanks were overflowing and the grass was broken and laying in every direction. More interesting than anything, were the frogs and crawfish everywhere and to this day I cannot figure out where they came from. None of our buildings were destroyed except for the lean too. And all the cows were accounted for.
We spent the day fixing better accommodations for our workers and piling up brush and trash created by the storm. All the while I was thankful that no-one was killed or hurt. Although I did not express it, I wondered to myself what it must have been like for those two “wets” that spent the night outside. To this day I will not forget the smile on their faces that morning. It was a smile that said “I almost died last night, but I did not, and for that I am happy. ” "
Satellite image of Celia over Texas at 10:03 p.m. August 3, 1970
Courtesy of NOAA
Date(s): July 31 - August 5 1970
Location: Cuba, Florida, and Texas