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1919 Hurricane's 100th anniversary nears

Posted at 10:26 PM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 21:15:59-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx. — There are two events happening on Saturday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the deadliest hurricane to ever hit the Coastal Bend.

"At 9:45 in the morning on Sunday, September 14 the warning goes out that the barometer is falling and we're going to get a hurricane," co-author of the book '1919 The Storm' Jim Moloney said.

The 1919 Storm is the official name of the hurricane that roared ashore between Corpus Christi and Baffin Bay. Corpus Christi saw lots of rain and wind up to 100 miles per hour, but the 12-foot high storm surge was the real killer.

"If you got out during the beginning of the storm you were wading in foot to two foot to three foot of water," Moloney said. "But, eventually it was over your head, and you were stuck."

The official death toll is 284, but Moloney thinks the real number of people who died in the 1919 Storm is in the 500 to 700 range. He thinks lots of unidentified bodies weren't included in the count, nor were bodies that were washed away and never found. The majority of the deaths happened in downtown Corpus Christi, but also on North Beach which was home to middle and even upper income families at the time.

"It was just a nice place to be," Moloney said. "That area had 12 foot of water go over the top of North Beach and everything that was on there was pretty much washed away."

In hopes of preventing a similar disaster from future storms, the city put together plans to build the Corpus Christi Seawall.

"The Seawall is 14 foot high," Moloney said. "It's two foot higher than the 12 foot surge."

Commemoration events begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Rose Hill Cemetery. It's a memorial for the dozens of unidentified victims of the 1919 Storm who are buried in a mass grave there.

The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History is hosting an event from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Saturday. Activities include a photo exhibit of the hurricane's devastation and re-enactors stelling stories from real storm survivors'. Admission is $5.

Copies of '1919 The Storm' are available to purchase online. Click here if you would like to buy one.