We hadn’t paid attention to the news. It was too late to leave. So we were ill-prepared when Hurricane Celia slammed into Corpus Christi.
I was only 3 years old on August 3, 1970, but my memories are vivid. We sat in the hallway in the middle of the house, closed all the doors, and I ate animal crackers while my stepdad played the guitar.
All the while, I heard what sounded like freight trains encircling outside our house.
Living through a Hurricane
After the storm, the neighborhood looked like a war zone. Amazingly, our house was one of the only ones untouched, although 80% of the city’s buildings got damaged.
- Roofs were ripped off.
- My swing set was lodged up in the trees.
- Every wooden fence fell flat.
- The National Guard came in to Corpus Christi to prevent looting and to enforce a curfew.
Here’s a video of the hurricane and its aftermath (best turn your sound off).
No Fences, No Barriers
Because every fence in our neighborhood lay flat, all the neighbors had one large yard—with no separation. Until the electricity came back on, each evening different neighbors would open their deep freezes and everybody ate barbecue!
I ran across this quote from a fellow survivor:
We all remember the backyard barbecues as neighborhoods gathered to cook the freezer supplies that would otherwise spoil in the heat. Every Celia survivor remembers . . . the sense of shared endurance and the readiness to lend a hand. The definition of neighbor was extended to anyone who had survived the storm. —Nick Jimenez
My stepdad spent hours with our neighbor as they helped each other clean the yards and rebuild the fences.
Normally, they didn’t take the time to engage in conversation, but the disaster forced the neighborhood to be neighborly. As they finished building the fence between them, they shook hands and my stepdad said:
Well, I’ll see you next hurricane.
What Living through a Hurricane Taught Me
The aftermath of Hurricane Celia brought these lessons and observations to mind.
- God may allow something drastic to tear down the fences between us and to get us to reach out to one another (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).
- We really do have time to assist others, and when we do, we’re glad (Acts 20:35).
- We need to look to the needs of others and not just ourselves (Philippians 2:4).
- “Acts of God,” disasters, and trials can bring out the best in people—character you would never have otherwise seen (Genesis 44:16, 33).
Sometimes I wonder if we could avert more disaster if we lived this way all the time.
Tell me what you think: What lessons have disasters taught you? To leave a comment, just click here.