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The 1900 Storm

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Christopher Li

on 30 August 2013

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Transcript of The 1900 Storm

The 1900 Storm
Isaac Cline was a meteorologist and and head of the U.S. Weather Bureau. However, he was overconfident. He dismissed building a seawall as a useless waste of time and issued the hurricane warning far too late. Because of his arrogance many people died, including his wife.
Isaac Cline
H.C. Claiborne
H.C. Claiborne was the keeper of the 65-foot tall Point Bolivar Lighthouse. During the storm, 125 people took refuge in the tower. As the water continued to rise, a dozen people drowned, but 108 people survived.

Note: Although it is commonly believed that the lighthouse mechanism broke during the storm and Claiborne had to operate the beacon by hand, this is incorrect. It actually happened during the 1915 hurricane.
Casualties: Between 6,000 and 12,000 people
Highest wind speed: 130-140 miles per hour
Financial Cost: 20 million dollars (More than $700 million dollars today)
Max Water Depth: 15 feet at 7 a.m
Before the storm struck, the people of Galveston felt that they were undefeatable and strong-a flaw many people suffered from at the time (hubris). They couldn't believe how easily the storm destroyed their city.
"The ruin and desolation is indescribable--the loss of life appalling. We have lost everything, you might say."
-Martin Nicholson
"Mrs. Kopperl's house is a ruin--roof sliced off and the pillars standing without support."
-Sarah Davis Hawley
"...I saw them still at work with hundreds of hands cremating the bodies...most horrible."
-Charles Law (This was because of all the people that had drowned or died.)
"The spectacle on Tremond and Market Streets beggars description."
-George Hodson
"...I found everything swept clean. Part of it was still under water."
-John Blagden
"The Gulf side of the island was swept clean for six blocks from end to end."
-Walker W. Davis
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The Seawall

The Galveston seawall was built after the disastrous hurricane to protect from future hurricanes. The idea had been discussed before, but Isaac Cline dismissed it as a waste of time and money. On September 7, 1901, the Texas State Legislature signed the contract to build the wall. It was 3.3 miles long, 16 feet wide at the base, 5 feet wide at the top and 17 feet high. It was expected to cost 1.6 million dollars, but it was worth the cost--it drastically lowered the number of casualties during a 1909 hurricane and the huge 1915 hurricane. It was completed on July 29, 1904.
The first sign that the storm had arrived were extremely high-speed winds. The water was continually rising, covering houses. The anemometer on the roof of the U.S. Weather Bureau registered 84 mph and broke off. However, even after that the winds continued to blow even faster.
The Approaching Storm
The reaction of President McKinley: "I have been deputized by the mayor and Citizen's Committee of Galveston to inform you that the city of Galveston is in ruins." He sent troops and supplies to the city but he didn't come himself. Countries like Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, England, and South Africa donated money, not to mention most of the U.S. states. In all, the donations exceeded 1.25 million.
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H.C. Claiborne
H.C. Claiborne was the keeper of the Point Bolivar Lighthouse. During the storm 125 people took shelter in the lighthouse. The people climbed up the stairs as the water rose. A dozen people drowned but the rest survived. During the storm, the lighthouse beacon broke down and Claiborne had to operate it by hand.
By: Christopher Li, Anuj Gupta,
Mason Ross and Justin Smith
In 1900, the Red Cross was a very small organization, but they were still able to acquire lumber to rebuild houses and make an orphanage. They raised money by selling photographs of the 1900 storm. This was one of Clara Barton's last missions.
Issac Cline
Point Bolivar Lighthouse
After the 1900 Storm
Full transcript