The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962 Page: 305
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Hurricane Carla at Galveston
Gothic structure was in the path of the hurricane and was badly
damaged by the winds of the 1961 storm. Windows were ripped
out, and turrets toppled from the roof to damage the structure
below. Although the building was not used as a shelter in 1961,
old residents recalled the role the "Grand Old Lady" had played
sixty-one years before.
When the storm began to rage early on the morning of Sep-
tember 8, 1900oo, Mother Mary Joseph, superior at Ursuline
Academy, began to ring the bells in the chapel to call the fleeing
residents to the convent for safety. Men, women, and children,
their clothes ripped from them by the raging winds, sought
shelter with the nuns who lent the refugees their long habits.
After the water rose past the first floor, the refugees moved to
the second story, and participants reported that an expectant
mother floated into one of the windows in a trunk. Hers was one
of three infants who were born in the nuns' convent cells during
When the tidal wave swept through the day school building,
collapsing it, the Negroes began a weird chant like the death song
of the savage. To avert a panic Mother Mary Joseph took a little
bell and went to the Negroes. "If it's God's will that we die, let
us die like Christians. Let us pray, and those who wish to be
baptized will be," she told them.
In the dim candlelight she went about administering the sac-
rament of baptism to those who wished it. She gave the name of
Mary to the women, that of Joseph to the men.
Huddled in a corner she found a little Negro child and as she
poured the water over its head she began, "I baptize thee Mary."
The little figure shrugged and said, "Please, ma'am, I'm no girl.
I'm a boy."28
During the 961 hurricane there was no great panic. The
lack of panic came in part from what Galvestonians have learned
about protecting themselves against the dreaded tropical storms.
In the days immediately following Carla, they began to look at
the problems which they had endured. Discomfort appeared to
be relatively minor compared with the threats to life which the
island once faced. Both water and power lines come to Galveston
28Galveston Daily News, September 24, 1961.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962, periodical, 1962; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/m1/345/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.