#TBT- 1900 Storm Damage, 2100 Block of Postoffice, looking east.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Galveston thrived as a sophisticated community with the deep-water harbor and port as the leading exporter of a number of commodities, especially cotton. This booming economy funded fanciful, elaborate architecture, grand social events, and the most up-to-date conveniences available.
Yet for all its advantages, the island city remained extremely vulnerable to the ocean waters. Despite the obvious danger, Galvestonians had grown complacent. The rising tides, known locally as "overflows ," provided excitement rather than fear. The morning of September 8th dawned with little fanfare. Families went about their daily business, paying little attention to the heavy rains falling across the city. By early afternoon the tide rose rapidly and the wind increased at an alarming rate. By mid-afternoon, much of the city was under water. From the early evening until midnight, the city of Galveston bore the brunt of the storm, still our nation’s worst natural disaster to date.
Survivors awoke the next morning to catastrophic damage. Almost every family touched by the loss of a loved one or friend- at least 6,000 people perished from a pre-storm population of 37,700. The financial losses estimated at a staggering $30,000,000 ($861 million 2015 USD). In the days following the storm, Galvestonians began the formidable task of cleaning up and rebuilding their city. They built a 17-foot seawall to protect from future storm surges. And as a further precaution, they raised the level of the city behind the new seawall to protect from flooding.
Today, as the anniversary of the Great Storm approaches, let us not only pause to remember the victims, but to celebrate the resiliency of the island community. This seldom seen photograph taken after the storm from the middle of the 2100 block of Postoffice looks east, capturing the magnitude of the disaster.
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