An exhibit documenting the dedication, compassion and resourcefulness of community and health professionals in the aftermath of Hurricane Beulah recently traveled to several locations throughout South Texas, including areas where memories of the hurricane and its aftermath were still fresh in the minds of those who visited the exhibit. In addition to being displayed at the Ramirez Library in Harlingen, the exhibit has traveled to Operation Lone Star in Rio Grande City (2011) and Brownsville (2012). It also made a month-long stop at Rio Grande City Public Library where a reception was held to honor the work of Dr. Mario E. Ramirez and other volunteers who helped flood victims following the hurricane.
The exhibit has been displayed at the Laredo Public Library, the Briscoe Library at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, the Killam Library at Texas A&M International, the University of Texas Health Science Center Regional Campus Library in Laredo and the University of Texas Pan American Library.
During June 2011 and 2012, the Hurricane Beulah exhibit also made stops at Hurricane Preparedness Fairs throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Hurricane Preparedness Fairs are organized annually by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and spotlight disaster preparedness services and resources available to the community.
Beulah made landfall at the mouth of the Rio Grande on September 21, 1967. It caused extensive flooding on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. To escape the rising flood waters, over 14,000 refugees from Camargo, Tamaulipas crossed the border into the small town of Roma, Texas. It was in Roma that Dr. Mario E. Ramirez, the only physician in town and Starr County’s Public Health Service Director, rose to action in the face of a crisis. For several weeks, Dr. Ramirez along with volunteers from the local community, the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, as well as the U.S. Army, worked to help the hurricane victims.
The documents included in the exhibit are part of the Dr. Mario E. Ramirez Collection, which is housed in the Ramirez Library in Harlingen. They were taken by George Tuley, a Rio Grande City teacher, who would later go on to a 39-year career as a photojournalist at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The photographs portray the use of makeshift medical equipment in the absence of IV poles, incubators, and oxygen tents. They also document the transformation of a high school into a packaged disaster hospital where blackboards were used to record patient information including diagnoses and treatments.
Work on the Hurricane Beulah exhibit began in 2009 when the Ramirez Library received a Library Technology Award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) to support the digitization of 139 photographs and 185 pages of letters, newspaper clippings, and personal journal entries related to the aftermath of the hurricane. The full collection of Hurricane Beulah photographs from the Ramirez Collection can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/beulahphotos.
For more information, contact Graciela Reyna, Assistant Director, Mario E. Ramirez, M.D. Library at (956) 365-8850 or email@example.com.
This project was funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract N01-LM-6-3505 with the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library.
Kathy Carter, Librarian at the Ramirez Library in Harlingen