I chose the Galveston hurricane of the 1900 because it is the deadliest natural disaster to hit in America. I did not know a whole lot about it and I have enjoyed digging deeper into the events that took place in Galveston.
The Galveston hurricane of the 1900 is to this day the deadliest natural disaster to happen in the Untied States. The town of Galveston, Texas is a barrier island off the Texas coast established in 1838. This town became more and more popular resulting in around 37,784 moving into the area. Unfortunately this are did have a record of tropical storms and hurricanes which was hard on the town because it was a little less then 9 feet above sea level. This resulted in the town asking for the state for money to put in breakwaters, a barrier built out in a body of water to protect a coast. The state refused so in 1878 Galveston planted cedar trees on the coastline, and filled in areas with up to 9 feet of sand to better protect them from these massive storms. By September 4th, 1900, the weather station in Galveston received it’s first notice of a hurricane coming northward from Cuba. It was classified as a tropical storm at this point. By September 8th, this tropical storm turned quickly into a category 4 hurricane. The wind speeds recorded reached up to 80mph winds with gusts of 100mph. It is still debated how fast the wind was blowing as most of the gauges flew from weather building. Many scientist believe the wind speed reached up to 120mps as there was many heavy debris such as bricks flying at a horizontal angle through the air. To make thing worse, there was a 15.7 foot storm surge that flooded the town. Due to the combination of buildings collapsing and the land flooding, around 6,000 citizens were pronounced dead mainly from drowning after being pinned under the debris.
This population was aware of flooding which they did their best to prevent. However, hurricanes were all too common for this population. Advisory’s were announced on radio for citizens to move to higher grounds but many ignored this. There was over 20 million dollars in damage, if you compare that to the value in 2009, that was around 516 million dollars. Many states did events to help raise money for the island and donated around 1.25 million dollars. It took the town of Galveston around 6 months before the last body they found.
After this tragic disaster, the community first developed a new form of municipal government. Then they set forth in putting in a sea wall along the coast line in 1904. This wall started off as 3 miles long, 17 feet above sea level, with the base as 16ft wide and 5 ft wide at the top. This sea is now currently 10 miles long but has the original width and height. Before the rebuilding process, the city decided to raise the cities level to more than 16 feet in some areas. Due to 2/3s of the houses and businesses being destroyed this effort was not as difficult as it seemed was finished in 1912. Eventually the first building codes and regulations where put into place in 1914. The wind load section made building required to resist a horizontal wind speed of 30 pounds per square foot. The roofing however has no restrictions unless there was a building that had a height of 100 feet and a width four times the height.
August 16, 1915 another hurricane follows in the previous 1900 hurricane. This one was similar as it too was a category 4 hurricane with over 100mps winds. The water from this was 3 inches higher than the 1900 hurricane. All the new efforts in preventing a horrible disaster paid off. Only 11 people died from this Hurricane. While people were safe inside the sea wall, 90 percent buildings outside the wall were demolished.