Texas shares about 367 miles with the Gulf of Mexico, so it's no surprise that that area is prone to water-related weather events.

Well, back in September of 1900, Galveston, TX saw the most devastating hurricane in all of American recorded history. Texasarchive.org has the full reporting from that time in 1900.

It started as a normal pre-fall day in Galveston when winds starting creeping up in speed, reportedly reaching up to 120 mph. Soon, gulf waves swelled to reach over 15-and-a-half feet tall, despite Galveston Island's highest elevation peaking at 8.7 feet above sea level.

Galvestonians were actually aware of the storm's presence (certainly not the severity and incoming degree of damage) since September 4th, 4 days before initial impact on Galveston Island.

Loss of life

This category 4 hurricane in 1900 was responsible for up to 12,000 fatalities, at least 6,000 on Galveston Island alone. To make things even worse, it's reported that most deaths were results of drowning in the rising saltwater.

To put this into perspective, Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, claimed about 1,800 lives near Louisiana and Mississippi, despite reaching category 5 status for a brief period of time.

Cost of damages

The hurricane in Galveston destroyed about 2,636 houses while damaging many others. Combined with 300 feet of eroded shoreline and 16 damaged ships in the harbor, property damage cost is estimated between $20 million and $30 million.


Rebuilding efforts

Many city-appointed leaders took charge in putting the city back together, piece by piece. Attempts were made to bury the dead at sea. These were quickly abandoned when the bodies would float right back to the beach due to the risen sea levels.

The city eventually resorted to burning the dead in large pits, a job that took weeks to complete because of the sheer number of fatalities.

In a more positive direction, communications and water services were back up and running within a couple of weeks and new telephone lines were then installed.

Within four years, a 17-foot tall seawall was constructed to mitigate an future devastation from hurricanes or tidal waves.


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