Hurricane Celia Aug 3rd 1970
Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christi Aug 3rd, 1970, I was 11 years old. We went to Burger Chef on Baldwin & Port, and the sky was ominous seemed to be getting a darker greenish color, I kept looking to east thinking it would come all at once. Dad was worried, but tried to mask it. We hunkered down in our old shotgun house 2009 Antelope as winds came up, rain fell, but no one had clue as the the sheer amount of destruction was to come. Trees in mister Bates yard fell, our yard too, next door at Coca Cola plant during first SIDE of the storm, a huge box fan, estimated 500 pounds, came flying 50-70 yards thru air off their roof and hit top of our shotgun house. We were already under the big bed, momma, poppa, Tommy, me and dog Bootsy, as all out windows on west side of house blown out by rocks from roof of Coca Cola company on Lester street, these were like bullets. So inside house already wet, broken glass, and things flying around. When the fan hit (literally sh*t hit the fan) suddenly the horrible roar of a hurricane came inside, and everything not nailed down was flying about, photos, lamps, the dresser drawers and shelves fell over, but we still under bed. Tommy & me crying.The roar of a hurricane is something that stays with you the rest of your life.
My dad decided to make a run for it to grandmas house about 12 feet from our house. The noise of the hurricane deafening, but just as we started to go, the eye hit! The big tree next to driveway was down and up came the natural gas pipe with it. My did quickly took a radiator hose off one of our Ramblers, and pulled metal pieces closer, tightened them up with the clamps, so no explosion. All of our cars windows on passenger side were blow out from Coca Cola rocks.
In the eye..Uptown Corpus Christi facing the bay, every one of these buildings not one window, there were curtains, desks, all hanging out, just silence, even the huge "w" sign of Wilson Tower seemed to be gone now. At a later date is where the huge 500+ fan fell into street after bouncing off our house, took 5 men to move it, see photo below. But in the eye, looking towards downtown like this there was solid black wall going up to heavens, the clouds angrily rushing north, this was the EYE WALL.
To the east down Antelope street looking down this street was littered with sheet metal, freeway signs, light poles, pieces of house, after all, we were in the eye for about 15 minutes, but looking WEST same angry clouds rushing south, knowing that shortly, the 1/2 half of hurricane Celia would hit. It took my dad Homer T Stakes only minutes to fix the broken uprooted gas line, so we quickly went next door to mister Bates house on Lester to see if they ok, both of them were in late 60s. They both fine but LOTS of damge to their kitchenettes and trees, and I stepped on damned nail.
Got back to our driveway and I noticed seagulls flying around, sun shining, simply beautiful Corpus Christi day in the eye. I wondered how those seagulls know to stay in safety of the eye? Do they keep flying and never stop? What if hurricane blew to Nebraska or Oklahoma, are they still in middle? Kid thoughs amid descruction I didn't fully comprehend.
In grandmas house now at 723 Doss my dad quickly took some plywood boards and covered up several busted out windows, the roof was fine, just broken windows, and put antique furniture behind them, this was heavy 1800s early 1900s stuff grandma had, would be worth fortunes now, but at time, you go on auto pilot to save family and house.
The 2nd 1/2 of Celia hit, and at one stage, broke the wind gauge at Corpus airport I understand with a gust of 162mph. I don't know what 'category' hurricane Celia was, didn't care then....don't care now, it is just that our lives changed forever by that one storm.After storm moved on, neignbors came out all checked on each others, even though some of them didn't care for each other, everyone made sure everyone ok. I will be forever indebted to Red Cross & Salvation Army who came around with free stuff, later we would go to place on Brownlee and get free bags of groceries, now they call them non perishables like cereal, spam, and beans, corn.
A few months after Celia there were 10,000+ trailers donated by State of Texas for free use for one year, you can thanks the late Senator John Tower for that, we got trailer, wow, was nice! Even had my own small bedroom. After the year up, we had option to buy, my dad passed unfortunately and things went downhill, we moved to rental on 642 Naples for a couple of years, but then had to move back to damaged grandmas house, she was in nursing home now, and no electricity, hot water, plumbing in house, so just fell into poverty, not everyone makes it out after being punched in gut after a hurricane.We were thrown back into stone age. Could not afford to fix grandma's house and our old shotgun house could walk in and see trees thru roof.
Photos #1 & #2 is NOT Celia, but 1967 Beaulah, that is my late brother Tommy & dad Homer T Stakes standing at steps of angry Gulf. It would get ANGRIER 3 years later with Celia. Photo #3 is me playing in tree at 2009 Antelope I-37 in background. We lost this cool tree, made some soap balls from the berrys. Photo #4 is basically same view of street behind me in Photo #3, but shows downtown looming, the 500 pound fan landed smack dab in middle here after bouncing off our roof. It was here one could stand & look at all the windows blown out not only during eye, but aftermath. Photo #5 is me, dad & Tommy, in driveway, the tree right behind us was something like 30 feet, but Celia took it down & was the tree mentioned that tore out gas lines from underground, were going HISSSSSS horrible noise. Photo #6 is wife Paige, this is facing west on Antelope was tons of debris from all the industrial places in street looking west.