Remembrances of the 1900 Storm

Texas City Sun, May 26, 1982

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A ph0toof

dvwntown Te~('J£;City with the 1915 storm :tide sup'erimposed.
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distances.' . "Many persons were killed on top of .the dlifting debris by fI~g tlmbellS aftel' they had escaped from their wrecked homes. Itt order to keep on top of the floating masses of wrecked bufidlngs, one had to be constantly on. tb.e lookout and continually climbing frmll drift to drift. Hundieds oilother people had similar experiences. "Sunday, Septembe~ 9,1900, revealed one of the most horrible sights that ever a clrllized people looked uP9n. About 3,000 homes, nearly half the residence pQrtiOD of Galveston, had been completely swept ont of existence and probably more than 6,000 persons had passed from life to death dutiilg that dreadful .night." Dr. Cline concludes his report with a discussion of storm winds which he believed passed near Galveston, based on reports of a tug in the Gulf. And he notes reports of damage in Texas City, La Mar-que, Dickinson, Hitchcock, Arcadia, Alvin, Manvel, Brazoria, Columbia and Wharton. Another accountef tfue storm, recorded tl-y someone at the First Baptist Church oi Galveston, has been preserved by the weather bureau; Part of it tells the story of the Palmer family , who lived al2320 . P 1k aAd t6@k into their home about 17 people because Dr. Cline had told them their house would be safe. . Some of the families crawled out windows of the second floor . as the wa(li1rs:roseand drifted away ona floating r@of. " AI"'l ti.~BurneUs had drifted away, Dr..Palmer took Lee In his arms anil Ivith his wife's arm around his neck, be braced his back ag!linst the bathroom door to keep it from blowing in. The front part of the house bad broken off and floated away. ·'Tbe bedroom In wblch the- Boe¢kers bad gone had disintegrated and the Boeekers were gone. Dr. Palmer grabbed the showel' rod with his left hanet as he held little Lee with the other. Mrs. P3hner (Mae) grabbed the sho.wet rod with her rlg!i.t hand as she held.on t.oDr. Palmer with the othe-r. . . "'11b.e ogse began to settle l.iJ. the water, as it broke up and little h Lee said 'Papa, are we safe?' Just tben, tbe house came down aDiI the roof settled over the Palmers and they all went down into the' water togetber. Dr. Palmer swallowed a large amount iiI water bvt was ulthnately able to get to the surface, although be bad lost Lee and Mae. He thougbt, "Ob, it takes so long to die. IWishitwoUlJlhurry. and get over. ' "tb~ nil thought he felt the I!l'ound and tried to grab it. H~ almost lost conscio!1Sness and began to wonder what beaven woUld be like and getijng there. Then a wave caught him and .threw .him on a dtift1Jlg bUnch,.ofwindow shutters that appeared to be tied tugether. The house bad 'gone down about B p.m. and soon tie drifted.bY two houses witb their upstairS porches out of . the water bnt he swept on by them. Soon the sbu~ers hung..onthe top 01 a shed near the 0ld Ladies Home.on 25th St. '''As be ibqng to the floating sbed room, !i.e recogniZed the outUne of Ursuline convent. He noticed a two story building near . It standbig with the top out .ofthe water with a light In if. He called, and a man. earryjDg a.lantern came to a hole In the lIullding and told him U he woUld climb along the drift be woUld belp bim inside the bulldiJm." There Dr. Palmer met his next door neighbors, the Irwins, who had been rescued earlier lind together they climbed through the then receding water to the safety of the convent, which was filled with people. Another story kept by the weather bureau is an interview, donefol1owingHurricar.e Carla, dene with PiG, Tipp,whowason a fishing uip at the tin'le of th~storm, . "With a fair breeze a blowing, we didn't take long to pull up Into the mouth of a little bayou called Taylors Bayou and the wind WIllI sUff, but not too strong as 10 cause' us to flounder," Tipp e!1llp~iDed. '. "In them days, we never had no storm warDlDgs and we knew notl:1liig an appruacbing hunicane." of . Tipp and his buddies fished during the night until the. water . covered the whole island wlieve they were beached. This story

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began on a 'llilUl'sday before the Saturday stera storm and on Friday they awoke to a sky 19wand black and the wind blowing a, gale. They sat in the lilitle boat all day play,mg cards until the winrl picked up the boat up off the top af a wave and slammed it aO\fl1 on the upside down. , "lUI hell broke loofe, none of us-were ,h:urt. "mit upside down, !tapped In tbe cabin. We figured weld get the railroad iron we kept for ballast and weigb the cabin down so's it wouldn't blow away. We knocked a hOle in tbe cabin and weut fur the iron. We got It._but the wind was so bad and tlie rJl,!Dso hard that It peeled tbe skin off the back of my ears and I WaS picking prickly peal' I!tiokers cOutof my fJl,ceand IIeck for months ldterwards. " They sat al'aund the cabin all tbat day (Saturday) and Tripp went aut that migbt for a loo'k see and the wind picked him up and , tlll~ew hIm down and he crawled back to the boat. Later they all decided to try to get out and go look for their families. "Will and ehrist wrapped up In an old quilt, but net me, ~cause I knew what it's like out there. W~ all joined hands as wer:otmded the boat. The wind was fierce and the rain so bad yo,ucouldn't see or hear and the water was coveriDg everything. -n was black as nlgbtmares and we didil't get too far when Will Jay was blown Into the water. We broke hands and everybody scrambled for themselves. Iseen Will Jay go under, wittl a funny look on his face and not saying a word. Christ and me landed In about ten feet of water and Christ yelled, 'I can't esen swim a lick'. I ducked under the water and pulled off my clothes and shoes. Then from somewhere, Chdst grabbed myleg and was })DlliDg me wildly all over the place. I started swimming and Christ let go and I swam wUh the wind, I didn't knowwb~re. " After a while a big piece of foUl' by four came liP on me a and th'at turned out to be OD.eof my life savers, I stayed with that timber until the wee hours of the morning, just hanging on and agolng. About that tUne the wind let up a bit and along came a 2lJ..fo.otong piece of three by ten and Ijumped on it. I badn't bad l sleep in 48 bours and I just wanted to get up on that plant and sleep, but every time I crawled up on it, I would get blown off by the wind. ,j A big cotton barge passed me by and at the same time I could hear a bunch of cattle'belloting. All of a sudden, here came a herd o.f cows tight at me. I ytilled and hollered and they seatteredo Along came a bundle of picket fence slats and I grabbed Tipp then tell{; of it gettiElg light and his heading for land until he could finally tDuch bottom. He saw another herd of cattle and jumped in a wooden box and beat on the box to frighten them off. "I got out of the box and here I was walking around naked amongsf the dead birds aJld,c(lws looking for some Clothes. "r finally found a sailor's cap and then an old pair of overalls. I went up on a:h1gb place and looked around ~Dd I could see an old hOUSe on the distant bayshore, so I started for it. I had to swim tbree Httle bayous to get to it and when I did get there, I could see all the windows broken ont and it just looked like an empty shell. "I went ifi the frgnt door and the whole pJace was filled with Imeehigh sil1andmud. When I wel1t Into 't\Ie rear I as ~
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of them hadJds head split open llI!.dbe was nlJlk.Ing awful noises. They scared me worse than the stONll. • "I told them there was a bouse !:IU aways and I would get help and then Iwent out the window. "[headed for the b1gwhite hoose,got there, knocked on the door and a big oversized blond·headed man came to the door and I told him what bad happened to me and my partners and about the four Italians. The man took me in and gave me some food and water. He took me outside and showed me which way to go to get to Alta Lema," . Tipp tells of his travels to another home, with Mr. Williamson, who served him "the best meal Ihave ever eaten in my life" and hitched up the team and took him to Alta Lama, which they found nearly washed away. ' "I walked to a little town called Hitchcock and there was hardly oothing left there eltlier, just dead stink and snakes and rall.road ears and tracks all over the prairie. "I walked abouf two inlles In the direction 01 Galveston and I had to stop, my feet were so sore. Then 1Seen a Negro coming out of an upset boxcar and 1hollered 'what y.oudoln' there' and 'he hollered 'this here carls loaded with Mason shoes'-what we now call tenn1s shoes. 1went in and got me a pair and it was easy go~ from then on. , "I stopped at Virginia Point when I saw a fellow had a little tWo-masted boat tied up to some washed up railroad pilings. The water was l"IlIIDing kind of slow and I could hardly stand to look at the bodies fioaliUg by. "The skipper's name was Captain Thonton, a nice man. He said fie WaS gonna take a load of people to Galveston for a dollar a head and Icould go free if Iknew anything about sailboats. "I told I!.Im I was raised on a boat I;lIldso when the people got there we hoisted sail anil headed for Galveston. After about 30 lIililutes tile breeze died out and we just drUted with the tide ...We kept l"IlIIDing into so many dead bodies thlit Ihad to gp forward with a 'pike and shove them out of the way •.. Hundreds 01 bodies gOingbump-bump." . Nipp's tale of the bo<:li.es, people, cows, dogs, sheep, donkeys and birds of all ldnds,continues until he gets back to the island of Galveston, gets a permit from the police to be there and gets back to his house. " When I got there, there was notlilng left bll,ta bare spot on the ground. I just stood there and looked and cried a little InSide, anil headed back to town. an the way, I met the oldest Myers girl. I told her w!)at happeped and slie didn't even cry , she just sort of died on her face. She took me to her ho-use,where I had to ten Mn. Jay and Mrs. Myers bow tbeit husbands died. "The 'next day, the cleanup was going strong. 1 was-put In charge of a crew ·and we were supposed to get rid of the bDdies. There were so many dead you would sink into the sUt onto a body at·every otber sfep. You QOuldsee stacks of bodies everywhere. The vermin were out and you had to chase tli~rats off tlie dead most 01 the time. We tried to weigh t1iem down with iton and p~h them off shore, but they would wash in again. "FInally, we d~ a bunch of .buge pits and after searchiog for Identification and valuables, we bUilt up a ro.!lriilg lite ill,the pit and threw tbem in. We were worlQng on 25th and 0 1,2 and we bomed up over five hundred bodies up until the end of the mllnth. " n about the'illte part of November and I had done so much buining and so much work that I just gave out. I was sick for a long rune; I eao still smell the dead. I will never forget " those days. I rolQllOO around for 61 years ~ter that,never able to sit jlown. And just 61 years to the day: and hour, Hurricane Carla caught me, Iil La Porte, and I never even gotw.et from It." Hurricane season begins June I on the Texas Gulf Coast, Today there ate seawalls and pwnp stations and evacuation plans. But newcomers to the coast, as well as old-timers, should remind themselves again and again of the destruction packed in the winds and the tides ef a hurricane.

su n-S~Tn:ere wer"uur-l~U1Uau:r'UCl

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--Dick

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. :met€orologtcal

equiprn:ent

repairs
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Tl1e handwritten weather logfrom the 18~1 record boorc.

National Weathtzt Service office.

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