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Family welcomes baby during Hurricane Carla

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

Rick Korczynski was born in Ganado as Hurricane Carla crashed her way through the Crossroads on Sept. 11, 1961. Another memorable event occurred as his family prepared Korczynski's 40th birthday party on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the  terrorist attacks.

For many, Hurricane Carla conjures memories of boarding windows, gathering belongings and fleeing town however possible.

But not everyone left.

Sarah Korczynski thought about leaving. In fact, she probably would have. But Dr. James Bauknight said she wasn't going anywhere.

Korczynski was heavily pregnant at the time and, instead of evacuating, settled in at Ganado's Mauritz Memorial Hospital. She sent her then 2-year-old daughter, Veronica, to San Antonio with her grandparents.

"My doctor told me I was so close to my due date that, when the barometric pressure dropped with the storm, I'd go into labor," she said. "He didn't want me giving birth in a car on the side of the road."

As Carla rolled toward Ganado, Korczynski's water broke and she found herself preparing to welcome her second child into the world.

Rain and wind rattled windows and hospital staffers jammed blankets, pillows and whatever else they found under doors to keep water from making its way into rooms, she said. Korczynski even changed rooms when the staff noticed a tree - that later fell - teetering near the window.

"It was hot, miserably hot," she said. "The only light on in the hospital was the one for the baby."

Not even Richard Korczynski, Sarah's husband, went without work. While she went through labor, he helped bail water from hospital hallways.

Sarah Korczynski welcomed 8-pound Richard Ivan Clark Korczynski, or "Rick," into the world Sept. 11, 1961, 5 hours after her labor began. Soon after, the hospital lost electricity completely.

"You were excited because you had a child but thoughts immediately went to, 'Will he be OK?'" she said. "Luckily, he was a big, strong, healthy baby. But if he'd needed anything, we couldn't have gotten it."

In the days that followed, Richard Korczynski obtained a press pass and made his way to photograph the destruction at Port O'Connor and Port Lavaca, his wife said, noting boats strewn across highways and dead livestock beside roads.

Later, when mother and son were released to go home, they learned five feet of water filled their Lake Jackson home. Luckily for the family, Richard Korczynski had moved some belongings into a nearby duplex that remained safe and dry.

Rick's unsettling arrival made sense as the boy grew up into a rambunctious child, his mother said.

"He's always been a bull in a china closet," she said with a smile.

And while his first birthday was something to remember, so was his 40th birthday, Sept. 11, 2001.

Sarah Korczynski said she will always remember her son's birth, and the storm that caused such destruction throughout the region.

"It filled the Gulf," she said. "It was enormous. It seemed like it went forever."

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