Round Rock Reads!

January 2010 - Posts

Galveston, Texas: September 8, 1900: Over 6,000 men, women, and children dead

"A rocking horse stood by itself on a low rise, no house in sight.  'And so help me,' Sterret said, 'I would have rather seen all the vessels of the earth stranded high and dry than to have seen this child's toy standing right out on the prairie, masterless.'"

Storm destruction

A reporter's reaction to the devastation he saw from a train approaching Galveston right after the 1900 Great Hurricane.  Quoted in Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, [page 226-227], this year's Round Rock Reads winner.

 

What storm could be so important that it could forever alter the course of Texas history and commercial trade in the nation?  Enter the hurricane of 1900, an unnamed storm that roared out of the Gulf of Mexico, wiped out a city, killed 6,000 men, women and children and remains the single greatest natural disaster in American history.  This is the subject of Erik Larson's terrifying account of the massive hurricane that targeted the City of Galveston on September 8, 1900.

Weather forecasting at the turn of the century was in its infancy but scientists were arrogant in their firm belief that they understood the formation and paths of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.  Isaac Cline, Galveston's forecaster, witnessed with his own eyes the bizarre and ominous weather that hung over the city before the storm, but, like a good bureaucrat, followed orders from his superiors in Washington D.C. to not warn city residents.  Sacrificing his own wife and children, he and his brother, Joseph, clung to Isaac's house at the height of the storm's vertical winds and rain.  "'Evacuate,' Joseph urged.  'Stay,' Isaac said." [Pg. 191].  Through the actual telegrams, letters, and reports sent by Isaac Cline to the nation's weather bureau, and the testimony from survivors, Larson vividly describes the devastation wreaked on the city that caused so much human suffering and death.

Damaged house

Book lovers will be riveted by this vivid, dramatic description of nature's fury and are encouraged to discuss the book and its subject matter via this blog.  Click on the library's website and the image of the book cover at http://www.roundrocktexas.gov/library for further reading, historical images of the horrific aftermath of the storm and the History Channel's program dedicated to the deadliest hurricane in history.