On Friday evening, September 7, 1900, many of the 37,000 residents of Galveston, Texas, were settling down to dinner, few if any of them concerned about the steady 15 mph northerly wind rattling their windows. Within 48 hours, at least 8,000 of the townspeople would be dead, victims of the single worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Relatively few people are aware that the deadliest natural disaster in the United States was the hurricane that struck Galveston Island on September 8, 1900. One of the best resources that can be found to help fully understand the significance of this storm is Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik ...view middle of the document...
M. to the Western Union office in Houston. At five o'clock the anemometer recorded winds of 102 mph before itself was carried away in a rush. Like that, the full fury of the storm was upon the island. Waters from the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay quickly rose to meet each other, effectively swallowing the island.
Throughout the night, the people of Galveston fought to survive. Buildings and homes began collapsing; blowing debris killed or maimed many people who managed to remain above the rising tide. Water poured through second story windows, forcing hundreds into the ocean where they were drowned or killed by wind driven debris. The tide reached 15 feet with breakers more that 25 feet. Many survivors, including Isaac, his three daughters and brother, spent the night clinging to the remains of their homes.
By the morning, floodwaters had drained back into the sea. The corpses of people and animals lay intermingled through out the island; some were struck down in the street by debris, while others were crushed beneath their shelter or drowned. At least 6,000 to 7,000 Galveston resident were dead. Isaac survived along with his 3 daughters and younger brother Joe, but Isaac's wife Cora did not survive. Her body was found a few weeks later, identified by her engagement ring, which from then on Isaac wore.
High heat and humidity quickly settled over the city and made the stench from the thousands of dead humans and animals unbearable. Bodies were stacked on barges, weighted, and taken out to sea for burial. But in a morbid twist, the tides soon deposited the bodies back onto Galveston's beaches. After that, remains were buried in
mass graves or cremated in bonfires.
In 1900, the population of Galveston was 37,000. In one evening, it is estimated that 6,000 to 7,000 islanders lost their lives. Approximately, another 2,000 people in Galveston Bay area were killed. Not before or since have so many Americans perished in a...