Today, we take for granted things like Doppler radar, news alerts, tornado sirens, weather apps and weather satellites. Our ancestors weren’t so fortunate. They had next to no warning of an impending storm, and it was often disastrous.
September marks the anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history. On Sept. 8, 1900, a category four hurricane (125 mph winds) ripped through Galveston, then Texas’s largest city.
The storm killed at least 6,000 people, made 10,000 homeless and left destruction in its wake. Most victims perished from the 20-foot storm waters or from being hit by fallen debris. In some cases, entire families were missing.
So many people died, there was nowhere to bury them. Bodies were dumped at sea but later washed ashore. Other bodies were burned in a funeral pyre.
The financial cost also was high, totaling in the hundreds of billions in today’s money.
After the storm, the community rebuilt, the city was raised several feet above sea level and a seawall was added to help protect the area from swells.
The irony is that many people had talked about a seawall being built for years. The National Weather Service director, however, disagreed, and community officials followed his advice.
Galveston Hurricane in Pictures
It can be difficult to have an emotional connection to a disaster that happened so long ago. We can talk about quantitative figures and the facts, but there remains a disconnect. Seeing the disaster with your own eyes, however, brings home the reality.
The following is film footage taken of the aftermath of the storm.
“ … it was impossible for them to tell all, and the world, at best, can never know all, for the thousands of tragedies written by the storm must forever remain mysteries until eternity shall reveal all.” — The Galveston Daily News Sept. 13, 1900
Have you ever lived through a hurricane? Leave a comment below.
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