Imagine if you will living in the Gulf Coast area of the United States in 1900. Hurricanes were prevalent as they are today. There was one major difference though. Today a hurricane’s movements are tracked by satellite and advanced meteorological techniques and equipment. There is usually advance warning. Still nothing can be done to change their course or dissipate them.
September 8, 1900 was a normal weekend for Galveston, Texas’s 38,000 residents. Everyone went about their normal business while families played in the surf. Those in the area were unaware of the threat of a hurricane. Doppler radar and satellites didn’t exist yet.
Within a few hours winds rose to 120 miles an hour. Later in the day a 15-foot storm surge was battering Galveston. No one had evacuated, there was no where to run.
This storm still stands today as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. The death toll was 6,000-12,000 persons. The exact number can never be known because many were swept out to sea never to be seen again.
Unfortunately Galveston was recently hit hard by Hurricane Ike, but at least this time people had a chance to evacuate. The city was heavily damaged, but loss of life was low at around 34 persons.
Nature’s fury can’t be conquered, but with advance warning we can run and hide.