Friday, September 12, 2008

Everyone is an historian

It is bad enough to be subjected to yet another edition of Weather Hysteria courtesy of our friends at the Weather Channel, Fox News, CNN, et al, but why is every bubble-headed weather girl suddenly discussing the Galveston Hurricane of 1900? Oh, yeah to increase the hysteria. It was the deadliest hurricane in US history. Given it was major, there was little or no warning, Galveston was low-lying, it could hardly have been anything but severe.

Galveston was almost completely destroyed. It was a tragedy.

But I wonder if we will hear about the aftermath of the 1900 storm during the aftermath of Ike. I doubt it.

With almost no help from the federal government - the army did send a supply of surplus tents, and I thought they requested payment for those tents, but I can't find the link to prove it - the city of Galveston rebuilt.

Not expecting to be rescued by others, the survivors rescued themselves.
Ignoring advice from its sister paper, The Dallas Morning News, that it move temporarily to Houston, The Galveston Daily News continued publishing from the island and never missed an issue. Sept. 9 and 10, 1900, were published together on a single sheet of paper. One side listed the dead. The other reported the devastation of the storm.

In the first week after the storm, according to McComb's book, telegraph and water service were restored. Lines for a new telephone system were being laid by the second.

"In the third week, Houston relief groups went home, the saloons reopened, the electric trolleys began operating and freight began moving through the harbor," McComb wrote.
This was after the city suffered 6000 to 10,000 dead. Why are things so different today?

The city built the sea wall - 17ft above sea level. The city - the people that lived there, without the Army Corps of Engineers - raised the level of the city behind the wall. Buildings were raised on jacks and fill pumped in under them.
The city paid to move the utilities and for the actual grade raising, but each homeowner had to pay to have the house raised.
What a difference 100 years makes.

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