Indianola, TX Hurricane, Aug 1886
TWENTY-TWO LIVES LOST
In the Flood at Indianola, Tex, -- Damage Wrought by the Recent Storms.
Indianola suffered the worst of any Texas Town from last week's storms. Twenty-two persons are known to have lost their lives there Thursday night and Friday. During the hight of the storm the signal office was blown down, crushing to death Capt I. reed and Dr. H. Rosencrans of Elgin, Ill. A fire broke out in the ruins and destroyed 13 houses, among which were D. H. Reagan's large dry-goods store and Dr. Lewis's extensive drug establishment. Dr. Lewis was in this building at the time it took fire. He escaped being burned to death, but was subsequently drowned. The other victims include Dr. Crocker, Mrs. Hodges and two children of Dr. Hodges's family of Cuero, Mrs. Crocker of Austin who was visiting Mrs. Hodges, Mrs. Henry Sheppard, two children of Mrs. Max Luther of Corpus Christi, Dr. Davis Lewis, 10 colored people and a German whose name is unknown. Four miles of the track are washed away, rendering it impossible for trains to approach Indianola. There is great destitution among the poorer classes who lost everything they possessed. The depth of the water is reported as great as it was during the storm of 1875, when Indianola lost nearly 200 of her citizens.
Friday the flood of water over the doomed town was so rapid that within two hours after the first apprehensions were felt every street was submerged many feet. It is feared that many more people have been lost, as many are missing; but nothing definite can be learned until the waters subside. It is estimated that 38 lives were lost in the Gulf storm along the coast, $1,000,000 in crops, $3,400,000 in city and town property, and $900,000 in shipping and harbor improvements.
Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA 24 Aug 1886
In Texas, the hurricane obliterated the town of Indianola that was only just recovering from a powerful 1875 hurricane on the same location. At Indianola a storm surge of 15 feet from Matagorda Bay overwhelmed the town. Every building in the town was either destroyed or left uninhabitable. When the Signal Office was blown down, a fire started which took hold and destroyed several neighboring blocks. The fire destroyed all but two of the town's buildings and killed a large number of citizens.
The storm also destroyed two and half miles of railroad track, making communication with Indianola very difficult and complicating rescue efforts. This storm caused fewer fatalities however (46 in Indianola, compared to 400 in the 1875 storm),largely because the storm struck during the day and residents had time to take shelter. The hurricane also ended a severe drought in Texas.
The village of Quintana, at the mouth of the Brazos River, was also destroyed. At Houston, the bayou rose between 5-6 feet on August 19. The storm reached Victoria, Texas at about 7 AM, destroying or damaging most of the buildings in the city. An estimated 75 houses were destroyed and another 118 were damaged. The town's jail and high school were both damaged while the freight station, Masonic hall, and certain sections of town were "almost literally swept from the earth." No deaths were reported in the town, but the initial damages were estimated at $100,000 (1886 USD) and the citizens of the town declared the hurricane "the most terrible storm ever known in Victoria."
In Galveston, Texas, the storm capsized a forty-ton schooner, the Liviona Perkins, killing three crew members. The storm also damaged roads, railways and houses leading to an estimated $200,000 in damage (1886 USD).
Many of Indianola's residents relocated farther inland after the storm. Five weeks later, in September 1886, another hurricane hit the Texas coast between Brownsville and Corpus Christi. Indianola was again flooded by rainwater and storm surge from Matagorda Bay. The remaining residents were evacuated. Following this storm the post office at Indianola was shut down, marking the official abandonment of the town. The old town's ruins sit just offshore under 15 feet of water in Matagorda Bay.
After being rebuilt on a lesser scale [after the 1875 hurricane], Indianola was completely destroyed by a second hurricane that blew in on August 19, 1886, this time accompanied by fire. This storm was considered worse than the first one, but because there was less town, it caused less damage.