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Bloomington baby rode out Hurricane Carla in hospital incubator

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Sept. 9, 2011 at 4:09 a.m.
Updated Sept. 10, 2011 at 4:10 a.m.

Jane Arredondo was born prematurely just days before Hurricane Carla 50 years ago. Weighing about 2 pounds, 11 ounces, her fragile health kept her family from evacuating, forcing them to ride out the hurricane in Victoria. Here she sits in front of an aerial photo of the city.

Did you know ... ?

Hurricane Carla is ranked the nation's 37th deadliest hurricane.

Forty-six people died during the storm, including 31 in Texas.

Carla ties with three other unnamed storms as the seventh most intense hurricane in the mainland United States.

The storm caused $2.36 billion in damages.

Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website

Facing a hurricane is scary enough. Factor in a newborn, and it's even scarier.

When that baby rides out the storm away from the family, it's another story altogether. But that's what one Bloomington family faced when Hurricane Carla rocked the Crossroads.

Jane Arredondo was born born Sept. 2, 1961, three months premature. Her mother, Sesarea Lopez Arredondo, knew she was coming, even if the doctors didn't believe her.

"She told the nurse, 'I'm going to be having this baby,'" Jane Arredondo said. "The nurse said she wasn't. But I'm the smallest of eight children. My mom knew what she was talking about."

The infant made her way into the world at 11:10 p.m. at a not-so-whopping 2 pounds, 11 ounces.

And, as if her early arrival weren't enough to keep the family busy, Hurricane Carla was also brewing in the Gulf. It made its way to the Crossroads on Sept. 11, while Arredondo still called home an incubator in the Victoria Hospital in downtown Victoria.

While medical personnel watched over the baby, whose tiny footprints were no bigger than a pinky in length, the Arredondo family was busy holding down the fort in Bloomington.

"As the storm came closer and closer, we had to leave," said Vicente Lopez Arredondo, Jane's father. "We went to the fire department where they had generators and supplies."

It was unnerving to know his youngest child was riding out the storm miles away, he said, but the family called the hospital for updates when possible.

"She was in an incubator, helpless," her father said. "We were afraid the lights would go off or they'd have other problems."

But she made it through the ordeal unscathed, and with an interesting story to tell. About two months after her birth, she finally made it home to Bloomington.

"I was still small," Jane Arredondo said. "I fit in a shoe box. That's where they had me. But I was home."

Today, she still lives in Bloomington and works as a cook at both Sky Restaurant and the University of Houston-Victoria's Jaguar Hall.

And, while she has no recollection of Hurricane Carla, a scrapbook details her early days with birth certificates, baby pictures, newspaper clippings and more.

The family still marvels that, even without modern-day technology, the tiny baby made it through the ordeal safe and sound.

"They call me 'miracle baby,'" Jane Arredondo said with a smile.

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