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The 1900 Storm of Galveston
Galveston was one of the most promising cities in the state of Texas. With a population of around 37,000 people it was one of the richest cities in the U.S.A. It was one of the most conveniently located cities among the Gulf Coast. Galveston boasted of an excellent seaport. The city's good fortunes gave birth to a lot of millionaires. Most of their revenue came from the ships, which used its port to load and unload cotton. The warm climate attracted a lot of tourists who wanted to bath in the warm waters of the Gulf Coast. A lot of money was being made in every way possible. Morale was very high as the U.S. was getting more industrialized and adapting new technologies. Due to the turn of good events the people of Galveston thought that their city was invincible and nothing could go wrong.
That same proximity to the sea that made Galveston prosper changed Galveston forever," said Macdonald, a descendent of a 1900 Storm survivor and author of a driving tour about the history of the storm. (The 1900 Storm: Tragedy and Truimph, 2003)
Galveston was struck by a hurricane on September 8, 1900. Powerful winds running over 140 mph devastated the whole city. The force was so destructive that it simply swept away blocks of homes. The storm surged to a peak of 15.7 feet. It was estimated that 6000 residents of the city lost their lives due to the storm. Most of the city of Galveston was destroyed. It is estimated that the damage costs were more than 20 million dollars, which was a very princely sum for that time. This was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. History. It was far worse than the tragic earthquake of San Francisco.
The storm emptied the streets out. The atmosphere was very gloomy because of all the carnage. There was a ton of debris lying around. The lives of the survivor were shattered forever due to the horrific events. Each person had lost someone he/she loved.
Isaac Cline, an employee at the Weather Bureau discovered played a very important role which led to the tragic events of the hurricane. Being a professional weatherman his belief was that he could make accurate decisions about the weather. He had predicted earlier that a hurricane would never strike the city of Galveston. He expressed his views in an article in the Galveston News; where he quoted that a hurricane would never strike or cause any damage Galveston. Isaac also believed that a storm would bear all its brunt on the bay area and leave Galveston intact. The city officials of Galveston dismissed plans to build a seawall, due to Isaac's opinion that it was absurd that a hurricane would ever strike the city. His ignorance to the fact that weather is unpredictable led to very tragic consequences.
Bureaucratic foul-ups were one of the reasons why the death toll of the storm was very high. Isaac Cline failed to warn the people of Galveston of the dangers of the storm on time which obviously caused great damage later. Little did he realize that the rising sea level and a decline in the barometer were early warning signs of a great storm? Matters weren't helped by Willis Moore, Head of the weather Service in Washington. Willis Moore insisted that the storm had changed its direction and was losing power. Thus there were no chances of it striking the mainland. (T.H. Watkins, Blown Away, The Washington Post, 1999) lot of lives could have been saved had the Washington Weather Bureau acted promptly. The chiefs of the bureau were very prejudiced. They had placed a ban on all sorts of weather forecasts or information coming out of Cuba due to their dislike of Hispanic people. This was because of the aftermath of the Spanish-American war. The Cuban weather bureau had discovered the storm but no one listened to them. Isaac Cline tried to warn the residents of the city of the forthcoming danger by asking them to move to higher ground. The storm still struck higher ground and took a lot of lives.
Sometimes the blows of debris were so strong that we would be knocked several feet into the surging waters, when we would fight our way back to the children and continue the struggle to survive." (Isaac Cline as quoted by Erik Lawson,…[continue]
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