GALVESTON, TEXAS — News with a Twist has teamed up with the Historic New Orleans Collection to bring you a unique find each week from the museum’s vaults.
Recently, Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc on the east coast; 13 years ago, Katrina changed the perception of hurricane evacuation and relief efforts forever. For today’s Find of the Week we tell you about a storm that earns the title as the worst storm on record in U.S. history; the Great Hurricane of Galveston.
The port city of Galveston, Texas, was at one point, the largest city in the state, also known as “The New York of the Gulf South.” It’s title and position would be altered with the might of an impending brewing storm.
Museum senior librarian and rare books curator, Pamela Arceneaux says “when the storm was over, estimated dead ranged from six thousand to twelve thousand in Galveston and another four thousand to six thousand in the neighboring areas outside of the city.”
There is no official name for the storm, however, a book documenting the storm was published a year after. The book is named The Great Galveston Disaster and is a part of the Historic New Orleans’ collection and shows the power of a 15 foot storm surge and the carnage of a category four hurricane.
“It is the complete lack of knowledge that makes this one of the deadliest and the worst storm in United States History,” says Arceneaux.
At the time of the storm, the United States was at war with Cuba and Spain.
Arceneaux recalls, “Cuba was the last place that had experienced this particular storm and because we were disregarding their weather reports, once it left Cuba, there was no telling how big it was, what it’s track was, or how high the winds were.”
Clara Barton, the American Red Cross founder, led a hands on relief effort to save lives. This was her last time in action.
A 29-year-old meteorologist named Isaac Cline was stationed in Galveston with the United States Weather Service. He suffers the loss of his wife in the storm. Fifteen years later he became chief of The Weather Bureau for the United States in New Orleans. Eventually, he meets another great storm in the years to follow and successfully predicted landfall of the 1915 hurricane that swept the French Quarter in New Orleans.
After the storm, Galveston was raised and a 60-year seawall project was undergone.
Arceneaux says, “the Galveston Hurricane is not a story too many people are aware of,” and the book, The Great Galveston Disaster, “is full of those sorts of horrible stories of bodies being washed out to sea and then washed back on shore and inspiring stories of survival.”