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Hurricane Alicia

By NOAA

Alicia was the first hurricane to strike the Continental U.S. since Allen in 1980. It was the longest period in this century that the U.S. mainland had gone without a hurricane landfall (though tropical storms did hit within that time).

Alicia was a small to medium size hurricane. It reached a minimal Category 3 status as it hit land. The center of Alicia moved over the Texas coast about 25 miles southwest of Galveston on August 18. Aircraft observations indicated that only a 60 mile section of the coast, extending northeastward from Freeport, TX, experienced hurricane force winds. Despite its small size, Alicia caused over $2.4 billion in damage (in 1990 dollars).

Source: NOAA.

 

Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about Hurricane Alicia? Have you any compelling stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Hurricane Alicia did not just effect North Texas. Southeast Texas was damaged majorily. The deveopment, Brownwood was forever lost after that dreadful storm."

--Kiddo

"I lived in Bay Town in 1983, I was 14 years old. I remember seeing waves taking entire roofs off of houses. The wind and waves took a part of the town into the ocean. Cars flying through the air.

Its something I will never forget. After the storm was over the community was surrounded by a huge chain link fence by the goverment. A whole neighborhood, captured by the storm and left in its wake."

--carmndr

"I was only 14 years old in 1983 and Hurricane Alicia was the first hurricane I've been through. I remember everyone taking no preperations due to many "cry wolves" in the past, Then Alicia hit! I remember watching the pine trees out front bending way over (4 am), but not breaking, the repeated blue explosions of electric transformers blowing. Morning arrived, no electricity, August and NO A/C!!! Toured town (Baytown) to see endless damage and flooding! We got hamburgers on bread from Pit Grill (now kettle)(every place to eat was packed or out due to crowded conditions (no one prepared!)

Now when we eat homemade burgers without buns, we call 'em Alica Burgers!LOL The following night we watched T. V. with power supplied from the battery pulled out of the family car. Candles everywhere to see! The next day we drove around town in the car and found an Angel's gas station with electricity!! We got cold cokes to drink!! After 2 days of no A/C, the power came back on.

The next several weeks were filled with chainsaw buzzin' all day! It took forever to haul all the trees and branches to the road! Being the kid I was, All I was hoping for is that the arcade at the San Jacinto Mall was not damaged, so my sister and I could play Dragon's Lair!!!"

--Sonic 1992

"I lived and still live in the West Houston area. This simply was awe-inspiring. As Alicia came ashore, the wind was blowing at 100+ miles per hour.

Then the eye hit, it was a dead calm. It simply put was eirie and exciting at the same time. An hour later, we got hit by the 100+ winds coming from the other direction. Another benefit of getting hit by the eye, you get hit twice, in different directions."

--Malice

"I lived on the north side of Houston when Alicia hit, and I can remember that all the chimneys and shingles from the homes where blown into the middle of the street. It rained so hard that water covered the street and the lawn up to about 3 feet from the front door. "

--Anonymous

"I remember that the television weather casts at 10 PM the night before Alicia hit were downplaying its importance and saying it would travel far west of Houston. Many people in Houston were taken by surprise when the hurricane passed over early the next morning. It was my first time to experience the interior of the hurricane eye. The debris removal was a nightmare. "

--Morse Street

"Alicia made me a believer. I lived in Houston and went to bed without hurricane preparation thinking Alicia was going to hit close to Corpus Christi. Then I woke up to howling winds and torrential rains, no electricity, no water. With no preparation, I made my way to my car to listen to the radio and was stunned to realized that Alicia eye had just crossed the coast and was moving north to Alvin and Houston area. I returned inside and to wait the storm out.

I opened the curtains to let light in until I saw the window panes moving in and out from the high wind surges. I quickly closed my curtain in case the glass blew out. I found that my phone still worked so I called my mother in Louisiana almost ever hour to give me an update on the storm and its location. After the storm passed I was out of elecctricity and water for 3 weeks and in the middle of August it was horrible.

The one good thing was that my community showed our spirit by grilling the foods in our freezers and sharing will all while we visited and tried to stay cool on those 3 weeks of long hot nights and days.

From that day forward I put together what I call my hurricane closet and if the hurricane is close I do not sleep until I know it is on land and I pray for those who are ever in a hurricane's path. I do not ever want to be in that position again."

--Anonymous

"We were living in Clear Lake City at that time. The thing I remember most about Hurricane Alicia was how all the power poles on Highway 3 were listing at about a 45 degree angle in a northerly direction as far as the eye could see after the storm was over.

The thing my family remembers most is the 2 a. m. telephone calls I made to them in Ohio so they could hear what a hurricane sounded like. I put the phone up the chimney so they really had an earful.

All in all it was an awe-inspiring time that I really don't want to ever repeat again. "

--JudiMac

"We lived on the East side of Houston, right in the path of the hurricane. We saw roofspeeling off our neighbors homes. We lived in the Woodforest Subdivision. It was very uncomfortably muggy and miserable for about 2 weeks after the storm. There were trees blocking the road everywhere. Bennigans on I-10 and Federal road were under water.

It seemed like the world was ending. It was so dark and dreary for days. "

--Ern Dunn

"I was about 10 years old when that Hurricane hit and I lived in Channelview Texas. As we were sitting in the living room listening to what sounded like a freight train over the house, a window was blown out of the kitchen. I can remember there being looking outside and it being so dark and terrential rains were falling and things were flying through the air. By the time it was all said and done, our area was without power and 3 - 4 foot of water was covering the roads. It was the scariest time in my life. "

--TxFireGal

"I remember watching a very old, very large pine tree in my front yard. It swayed back and forth, back and forth. Each time it just seemed impossible that it wouldn't fall over. We were praying that it would go into the street and into the driveway across the street, missing all houses. It did not fall, and we were amazed. Up and down our street, so many old trees tumbled -- some on top of houses.

We lost a beautiful pecan tree in our backyard. But most importantly, no one was hurt during the storm on our street. However, afterwards, the line of houses across the street were without electricity for a week. One elderly neighbor died -- the heat and humidity were too much. If we had only realized she was home! But when we checked on everyone, she wouldn't answer the door, we assume. Or maybe she couldn't. Social pressure kept us from breaking in the door. Wish we had."

--Anonymous

"I was 15 years old and lived in Clear Lake Shores during Alicia. The day before the storm I was sent to stay with my girlfriend and her family in Clear Lake Forest. I vaguely recall the roaring winds as they plowed though her subdivision. The only true memories I have are the visions of the first love of my life.

In the weeks that followed Alicia, we were without electricity, water, and much of our small island was completly sumerged. My brother and I worked in Clear Lake Shores, for the city, removing the remains of Alicia's fury. We went without showers for the duration, except for the occasional dip into the murky salt water. (a child's dream)

My mother allowed our friends, whose homes were destroyed, to stay with us. It was a work all day, sweat all night, type of discomfort. We had sleeping bags piled on the floor and we suffered the rarity of a breeze through the window.

Our food consisted of chared burgers that mimicked the stinch of OFF with a bun covered in pitts from the removal of the mold. Ice was a sought afer commodity and cold drinks were the prize of the day. Although, Alicia caused many of my friends to loose their homes and their personal property, she helped me know myself and through all the tragedy find solace in the face of the most beautiful girl I have ever met."

--biloxicrues

"Every city or town has it's own history or lore, and the Category 3 Hurrican Alicia is part of that history for the city of Houston. I was 8 years old back in 1983, and I was old enough to know what a hurricane was (rotating storm with an "eye" that comes in off the sea) and I knew that it was a deadly storm, but at that age I didn't know how deadly it could be. I still sorta thought it was kinda like a severe thunderstorm.

My family boarded up our house and everyone was gathered up together in the most structually sound part of our home. But I would wake up during the storm and look out the window, to see the horrifying sight of consistent lightning, almost like flames just lighting up the night. I had never seen any severe thundestorm do that before or since. I was even stupid enough to peak outside (we had a storm door and a good 7 to 8 feet of covered patio) and I saw debris flying everywhere, horizontal rain and terrifying howl."

--Anonymous

"Life in the eye-
After a terrifying night listening to Alicia tear tree limbs off by the dozens, I had an amazing experience venturing out in the early morning light as the eye passed overhead in the Rice University area. Perfect blue skies and calm winds inside the eye allowed us to wander a short distance down the street to examine the destruction before the backside of the storm arrived with a vengeance to force us back inside for round two."

--Mike

"I was born August 11, 1983 right as Hurricane Alicia passed by/over Panama City, Fl and over Tyndall Air Force Base. My mother has forever told me this story and to this day I can still remember it.

As she was having me the ledgendary white sands of Panama City Beach were flying over head and being deposited on Tydall's Beacon Beach. She says you could actually see them flying and hitting the hospital windows, and as the storm passed with a roar I popped out screaming just as loudly and I ended up w/ the name of a very memorable hurricane. Tyndall and Panama City didn't take as bad a hit as the coast of Texas, but I'll always have a memorable story for my birthday. "

--Candace Alicia

"My wife and I were living in the Heights area when Alicia, hit we had lots of trees in our yard and we had two that fell over. One tree fell on our greenhouse and crushed it the other tree fell across our patio. our neighbor had a tree in his yard fall and hit the cornor of his roof and left a gapping hole in his bedroom. The rain and wind was the worst I ever experienced. I hope I never go through another Hurricane."

--CDG

"Hurricane Alicia. . . worked at the Flagship Hotel. The entire hotel was closed, and about 100 feet of the front of the hotel was taken by tornados. I remember going up to the sixth floor and opening a room door and the floor just dropped off into the ocean. "

--Anonymous

"My wife and I lived in an apartment in Channelview TX.

When Alicia hit our area we got down on our knees and asked the Lord to save us.

It seemed as if the world was coming to an end, the wind howled so loud that it sounded like we were in the middle of a train wreck that just kept on and on happening untill we were trembling with fear that we were living our last moments.

The storm passed through our area but not before leveling a KMART deptartment store and many of the buildings in our immediate view. The roof of our apartment was gone but thank you Jesus my wife and I made it through with out a scratch. Later we found out the storm had gone into Houston hitting downtown hard. Skyscrapers had huge shards of glass embedded into the buildings from the other buildings in the vicinity. An incredible site to say the least. You are helpless and totally at the mercy of GOD in a hurricane. The only hope you have is prayer. "

--Hurricane Prayer

"We were living in Manvel, Texas, very close to the place where Alicia made landfall. Although we didn't suffer major damage, it was so scary that we put our house on the market and moved to Atlanta the next spring. We have been able to avoid hurricanes completely until just this year. And once again, we were living in hurricane central, otherwise known as Martin County, Florida. We were pounded by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. We are moving back to Atlanta!"

--Ellen

"I lived in Baytown when Alicia hit. We lost power and phone service, then the local radio station (KBUK) went off the air. I remeber feeling like we were the last people on earth!We lost part of our roof (shingles) and the people across the street had a boat tied to a street light. The boat was bucking in the storm-most incredible to watch."

--cherylfrom texas

"I lived in Houston at that time. My son was born Aug. 8, and the rains pre-Alicia, almost kept us from getting home to our other 2 small children. When Alicia hit the Braes Bayou, a deep concrete structure, often empty, came out of it's banks and across the four laned road and up a hill into the parking lot. We escaped flooding by a few inches but lost power and water for days.

The big story was about the giant glass shards from the sky scrapers falling and impaling cars parked downtown. I moved back to Kentucky Sept. 1st!"

--rooster0926

"I had just moved back to Houston from Austin after finishing graduate school. I had just started a new job teaching and was so preoccupied with it that I had absolutely no idea a storm was coming. Virtually noone at work discussed it (people were quite complacent about hurricanes at that time). It was not until the night before Alicia made landfall that my brother asked me what preparations I had made (none). We filled the bathtubs with water for bathing and filled jugs with water for drinking.

Then we waited, went to bed and woke up before 5 am to howling winds and rain pelting the windows. As the sun came up, I could see the tall pine trees twisting around and around. The eye passed over and then it began again, twisting and blowing the other way. We lost power and water for about a week. As we ventured out into the neighborhood, we was trees down everywhere. It looked like bombs had been dropped. I'll never forget it.

I don't think we went back to work for two weeks. "

--Anonymous

"Compared to many, we were fortunate and suffered little from Alicia, but the experience was no less awesome. Alicia was a suprise to us in Houston, the threat having been downplayed until seemingly the last minute. The memory of Hurricane Allen's last minute turn to the south three years earlier contributed to our complacency. Massive preparations were made for a hurricane that never came in 1980, so virtually no preparations were made for Alicia in 1983, which did come.

Early in the morning in Northwest Houston at Tidwell and Hwy 290, I awoke to the sound of whooshing winds. I looked out the window and saw graphically why windows should be taped. The window was dramatically bowing in and out. Fortunately, it consisted of multiple small panes of glass in an aluminum frame. A large single pane might easily have blown out under the stress. Power was off and Houston's pumping stations were already down, but gravity feed provided enough water pressure to fill both bathtubs and all of the pitchers, pots, and pans in the kitchen. At first light, I could see roofing tiles, siding and lots of other debris around the grounds of our apartment complex.

Later, the eye passed over and I went outside. It was an awesome sight, spooky and ominous. Flukey wind gusts seemed to blow from every direction and the sky was blank in a way I have not seen before or since. The local 7-11 was selling ice, so I filled our freezer. Following the sound of a thrumming diesel engine and vague radio dispatch sounds, I found a Houston Fire Department unit watching over a ruptured gas line shooting a dramatic blue flame 10 to 15 feet into the air. To one of the firefighters I said, "Guess you can't put that out, huh?" "Nah, " he replied, "we wouldn't want to. We're waiting for the gas company to cut it off. " Oddly enough, it was safer for it to burn so that gas would not accumulate and possibly explode.

After passage of the eye, winds and rain resumed, though now blowing in the opposite direction, of course. Sitting in the dark listening to the radio, absurdly, the telephone rings. Bless old Ma Bell, pridefully maintaining the network under all conditions. It's my wife, she having taken the kids to Austin to visit my mother. "What's going on?" she said worriedly. "Oh, we're having a little hurricane here, " I replied. After assurances that I was OK, she asked if she should come home. "Oh! No! Not 'till I say, " I answered. After two more days, they return, passing a convoy of electrical crews, trucks and equipment from Austin and San Antonio on the way to help out.

By the time they get in, water and light have been restored. Were it not for the extensive signs of havoc all over the landscape, it was almost as though nothing had happened. Not far away and all over the city and countryside, others were less fortunate, and waited days or weeks for services to be restored. For me, on the other hand, it was a relatively safe, mildly uncomfortable, though dramatic adventure. "

--Larry the ITPRo

"I was 4 when hurricane alicia hit Pearland. I lived in an up stairs apartment with my mother fater and sisiter. I rember it being the greatest thing in the wourld I was able to stay up late and have popcorn! I can rember when the eye of the storm passed and my family and I went out side to see what kind of dammage was around us. I was so excited and could not wait for another hurricane. I am now a resident of Lousiana and have see the tremendous amout of damage a hurricane can do. I just wanted to share my story and hope that some one will read it and take comfort in knowing that children see this type of situation and find it somewhat fun."

--Anonymous

"I stayed in a house about 4 blocks from Galveston bay in a place called Bayview. The highest storm surge was 12' at Seabrook, TX. Bayview is located about 3 miles south of Seabrook at an elevation of 17' above sea level. I'll never do that again. Never. "

--Culpeper

"I was seven years old and living in the Oak Cliff Place subdivision near Huffmeister Rd and I-290. The first thing I remember about Alicia was that as my family was driving home from visiting other family members, I looked out the window of the car and saw the clouds building mass and speed. In fact they looked as if they were keeping up with us on the freeway. I remember my Father saying he wanted to get home before the "really bad storm" hit. As soon as we got to the house I went straight to bed, only to be awakened by the wind outside actually BANGING on my window. Yes Banging! Somehow I managed to go back to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, the wind outside was still going crazy, and it was raining so heavily I could not see the house across the street. But the one memory that always stands out in my mind is that of our 15 foot oak tree in the front yard with its top sweeping the ground like a broom. The trunk never actually broke but the tree was more than horizontal, almost all the way to the base. If memory serves the other tree in our yard, this one a mimosa tree, actually snapped at the base and was blown away. My mother told me to get away from the windows and stay near the back of the house, away from the side the wind was hitting.

The rain and wind pounded the hell out of our little street for pretty much the the entire day. Fortunately our neighborhood had been built only three years before, and the houses were of very sturdy construction, so damage was minimal at least on our street. Most of the residents were smart enough to park their cars in their garages. Alot of dirt and vegetation was blown in from the unfinished land behind our street. Also behind our street was a drainage ditch about 20 feet deep, 50 feet wide, with the equivalent of a small creek running down it. This creek was now a river filling the ditch up to its banks, and flowing pretty fast. If I remember correctly, the storm finally passed and died down around 7 or 8pm. I do remember wanting to go outside, but my mother would not let me due to nearby power lines being down. Sure enough, when I looked out one of the back windows, I could see a pole leaning over about 45 degrees. The transformer on it was crackling and popping with electricity where the power lines had been yanked out.

The power was out for about three days afterwards. We didn't have any battery operated radios, so we had no idea what was going on outside of our neighborhood. The very next morning my mother sent me off to the school bus stop, but before I got to it, one of the kids on my street stopped me and told me that school was canceled indefinitely. As fierce as Alicia was, my part of town escaped pretty much with minimal damage. A little bit of flooding, power lines down, the usual stuff. Fortunately, my only loss was my favorite toy fire truck I had left on the porch the day before Alicia hit. I never knew until today that Alicia had done the equivalent of 2 billion dollars damage to the rest of the Houston/Galveston area. But I will always remember Alicia as being, by far, the absolute worst storm I ever sat through"

--Jeffry

"My Husband and myself along with our 3 year old daughter and a new baby on the way, were in Hurricane Alicia in 1983. I have not thought about that day in a long time. That is, until the destruction of Hurricane Katrina 2005 made me realize just how lucky we were in 1983. As the storm was approaching, we sat outside watching the lightening in the sky turn the clouds a beautiful awray of colors from pink to purple. We lived in a mobile home in the country west of Dickinson. After the first few hours of the hurricane, the winds were blowing our trailer so hard, we moved to a washateria by our house. Our neighbor worked there, and suggested we go there because the building was made of cement block and would be more safe. We all ran to the car as the wind blew so hard we could barely stand. As we reached the car, we opened the doors and got in, but becuse the wind was so strong, we could not close the doors, so we drove off with the wind and the hard rain pouring into the car agaist our bodies. As the hurricane poceded, the water was starting to come into the building. We all climbed onto the washer and dryers praying that we would all make it through. My husband had taken the car battery out and attached an electrical wire to a light bulb to give us light. He had been an electrician in League City. So we were really lucky to have his knowledge of electricity, as all of the power had been lost previously to going to the washateria. We all came out alive, and our pony even survived in he field by our house, and we all to this day, still have tee shirts that read 'We survived Hurricane Alicia 1983.'"

--Hoosiers by birth Texans by choice


 

DISASTER DETAILS

Satellite photo from August 18, 1983.

Courtesy of NOAA

Date(s): August 18, 1983

Location: Caribbean and Texas

Deaths: 272

Injuries: 

Damage: $2.4B


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