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1919 Storm

Peoples Street

The 400 block of Peoples between Chaparral and Mesquite Streets, looking east toward the bay. Downtown cross streets running perpendicular to the bay (Peoples, Schatzell, Lawrence, William, Laguna, etc.) acted as sluice gates for the storm waters, turning the streets into raging torrents. Water is rising above the running board of a car left on the street as Peoples Street is flooded by the first wave of the storm. Water was knee high after the first wave came ashore on Sunday around noon.

Lawrence Street

A view of Lawrence Street between Water and Chaparral Streets. The building in the center of the photograph is the Kenedy Pasture Company. In the foreground are some of the 14,000 cotton bales washed from the Municipal Wharf into the business district of the city where the storm used them to demolish buildings.

Plaza Hotel

Storm debris is piled up beside Lottie Carpenter’s Plaza Hotel, across Chaparral from Artesian Park. The hotel has been lifted and moved into Chaparral Street, but a bed and its mattress remain in place in the second floor of the hotel. Soldiers from Company I, 37th Infantry, who were transferred from Fort Brown in Brownsville to North Beach shortly before the storm, rescued 12 people stranded on the second floor of the hotel.

1919 – The Storm is available in one edition:

LIMITED EDITION

500 signed/numbered copies

9.25″ x 12.5″ format

Limited Edition $75.00
Orders placed in Texas will be taxed. Shipping will add $5.00 per book.

About the Book

A powerful hurricane devastated Corpus Christi on September 14, 1919. It left an official death toll of 284 with estimates of up to 500 more uncounted dead. Low-lying sections of the city were inundated by up to twelve feet of storm-driven tides. In the downtown, known as the beach section, buildings lining the bay were destroyed or heavily damaged, while the rest of the downtown was flooded with oil-slicked waters. On North Beach, Corpus Christi’s first suburban neighborhood of substantial residences, more than 220 homes were demolished by the storm tide. Those residents unable to reach the safety of high ground were swept into Nueces Bay to battle the storm and debris for their lives. Many died, but some survived the 14-mile struggle across the bay to come ashore at White Point or the Turner Ranch on the back side of Nueces Bay.

After the storm the downtown was filled with debris from shattered buildings and piers and thousands of cotton bales from the Municipal Wharf. The cleanup involved the entire city and resulted in a mountain of debris piled at the edge of the bay at Hall’s Bayou. The hurricane inspired Corpus Christi in its efforts to secure a deep-water port and build a protective seawall.

A history of the storm has not been published until now. Murphy Givens has collected the tales of survivors and newspaper accounts of the time and woven them into a gripping narrative of death and survival. Jim Moloney has organized photographs from the aftermath of the hurricane to give an understanding of the destruction and the clean-up task facing the battered city. Also included are two first-hand accounts by survivors Theodore Fuller and Lucy Caldwell, five new maps, and a list of the dead.