Fort Worth Star-Telegram from Fort Worth, Texas on September 3, 2000 · 42
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Fort Worth Star-Telegram from Fort Worth, Texas · 42

Fort Worth, Texas
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 3, 2000
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6B Sunday September 3 2000 I wwwstar-telvgrantcom STORM From Page 1 B ident of the American National Red Cross wrote when she arrived to offer assistance: "It was one of those monstrosities of nature which defied exaggeration and fiendishly laughed at all tame attempts of words to picture the scene it had prepared" Galveston was a city in ruin The sand island 30 miles lone and 11A to 3 miles wide was 97 percent damaged or destroyed About 3600 buildings were demolished Some Galveston historians believe that the death toll estimate of 6000 is woefully low An estimated 37000 people were on the island when the storm struck Weeks later 12000 of them were still missing Many families simply packed up what little they had and left Friday the City of Galveston will begin a weekend of commemorations starting at the local high school football field where CBS News anchor Dan Rather will be the featured speaker Throughout the weekend wreaths will be placed at appropriate spots community choruses will sing in concert and monuments will be dedicated It will be the first time since the storm that national attention has focused on the Galveston tragedy Many Galveston residents say that such disasters as the Johnstown flood the Chicago fire and the San Francisco earthquake have a greater place in American history than the Galveston storm because the people of Galveston were not eager to broadcast their plight Alice Wygant publicist for the Galveston Historical Foundation says she believes that the city didn't want the world to know what happened because "it's hard to promote a city as a resort when people know they could be blown away at a moment's notice" And at the turn of the century there was never much notice The US Weather Service was in its infancy and there were no shipto-shore communications to alert cities like Galveston of impending storms When hurricanes blew up from the Caribbean Cuban authorities would notify US officials but they were often condescending to their Latin counterparts paying them little attention Dr Isaac Cline chief of the Galveston Weather Bureau received notice of the impending storm as early as Sept 4 But the weather service believed that the storm was heading for Horida On Sept 7 Cline raised the black-and-red hurricane warning flag above the city but few people paid attention Galveston and its residents had little respect for hurricanes Since its founding in 1839 Galveston had been hit by only a couple of storms and the city quickly rebounded from the limited damage But by daylight on Sept 8 the morning winds were driving the waves onto the beach with unusual force flooding the south beach area Along the shore the elevation was only 2X feet above sea level Downtown was 4Y2 feet The highest point in the city was only 87 feet By 6 am Cline was on the beach and was quickly becoming fearful The north wind was still blowing but huge swells were rolling in from the south As one Galveston resident recalled "If we had a north wind you could usually walk half way to Cuba" Not on Sept 8 The hurricane was beating the Gulf of Mexico into a frenzy and the north winds were building a wall of water on ' the city's north side Eventually the two forces would meet and the entire city would be awash By mid-morning a nurse at John Sealy Hospital wrote in a letter to her lover: "It does not require a great stretch of imagination to imagine this structure a shaky old boat out at sea the whole thing rocking Like a reef surrounded by water water growing closer ever closer Have my hands full quieting nervous hysterical women" At 2:30 pm Cline called his brother Joseph at the weather bureau 'The Gulf is rising rapidly Half the city is under water" I 1 The great storm of alSOD The Galveston hurricane of 1900 was the deadlist natural disaster in American history Co the morning of September 8 this category 4 hurricane crashed ashore in the city of Galveston Texas leaving 6000 dead and a once properous seaport destroyed This week the city marks the centennial of the storm Texas Fort Worth Corpus Christi 131-155 mph winds 13-18 foot storm surge 0 350 MMZIMIlfillgelal Mlles 100 Okla Ark Galvestm' 95 W The Associated PressPA' Si II IVAN at Storm St Patrick's Catholic Church pictured as it appears today was repaired The church and other buildings were lifted on jacks and silt from the Gulf was poured in underneath as part of a plan to raise the elevation of the island St Patrick's is believed to be the heaviest structure on the island to be raised he said lie told him the city was fast going under water and that great loss of life would result "I stressed the need for relief" Cline said Joseph Cline tried to relay the message to Houston but the telegraph lines were down His last opportunity was the long-distance telephone line but the operator told him that thousands were waiting ahead of him Ile asked for a supervisor and pleaded his case His call was put through Moments after he hung up the line went dead Galveston was cut off from the rest of the world The nurse at John Sealy wrote: "Am beginning to feel a weakening desire for something to cling to Should feel more comfortable in the embrace of your arms You hold yourself ready to come to us should the occasion demand?" Between 3 pm and 4 pm the two walls of water — one from the Gulf the other from the bay — met in the heart of the city and as one journalist wrote "the waters joined in a bacchanalian dance through the streets" Gulf of Mexico 90 Vy Note: Photos courtesy Rosenberg Library Galveston SOURCES: National Weather Service Commemoration Committee Galveston wwwstortrisiginals corn FROM PAGE 111 Tenn The 115-foot Bolivar Lighthouse became a beacon of hope on Sept the Galveston hurricane Large brick buildings were swept from their foundations flattened Victims who weren't drowned were killed by debris rocketed by the 150-mph winds Survivors later said they thought of their impending deaths not in any frenzied delirious way but calmly and rationally They planned to open their mouths and fill their lungs with water when death seemed imminent The Rev Judson Palmer secretary of the local YMCA remembered his feelings as much of his home collapsed around him and water inched up his legs to his neck and finally near his mouth Ile clung to his son Lee with one arm and a shower pipe with the other "Just then the whole north end of the house fell in the roof settled on us and we went into the water together" he recalled "I thought It takes so long to die' was possibly unconscious for a time Then I had another thought: I wonder what heaven will be like" Palmer lost his son and wife For three hours he drilled atop a floating shed The nurse at Sealy wrote: "Darkness is overwhelming us to add to the horror Dearest I reach t 35 W - St Marys Orphanage was destroyed The girls' dormitory was to the east (right) of the boys' dormitory - MEXICO St OfPgit - ik -44 ''xRtdHIL j The Roman Catholic cathedral in the east end ot - the city - Ha NC 30 Vf CUBA Out my hand to you — my heart my soul" The surge of water from the sea reached a height of 157 feet At St Mary's Orphanage near the south beach I() nuns from the Congregation ofthe Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word gathered the more than 90 orphans who lived there The sisters tried to calm the frightened children by singing an old French hymn Queen of the Waves As one of the dormitories collapsed under the pounding storm surge the sisters moved the children to the remaining dorm Each sister took lengths of clothesline and tied themselves to the orphans in an effort to protect them As the surge reached its peak and the violent winds whipped the shore the dormitory was lifted from its foundation floated a short time then sank killing everyone inside Today sisters of that order wherever they are in the world pause on Sept 8 to sing Queen of the Waves "Galveston Swept by Tidal Wave The City Said to Have Been Wiped From the Face of the Earth" cried the Fort Worth Morning Register on Sept 9 The next day it reported "City A Desolate Ruin Where Dead Otatillin The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word operated St Mary's Orphanage Ten sisters and a total of 90 children died - BAHAMAS was— Survivors amid the aftermath of the storm 75W 70 W 40'N 35'N 30 N 6 5'N 20'N 1 YNI 1 0'N Sur-l'elegiantJAP The Associated PressPAT SLILIVAN 8 1900 as people flocked to it for refuge from ber the Living" Word spread quickly of Galveston's ruin and city leaders immediately met to begin restoration By 11 4m Sunday the day after the storm six men set out for Houston to tell of the city's condition They took a boat to Texas City found a rail hand-car and pumped 15 miles to League City where they hailed a train to Houston At 4 am Monday 250 volunteers boarded a rail car filled with provisions and headed for Galveston Dealing with the dead was the foremost problem one that turned men's heads One Roman Catholic priest a temperance man resorted to giving whiskey to workers so they could steel themselves against the ghastliness of their jobs Bodies were stacked on wagons and carts and taken to a temporary morgue for identification but the Septmber heat hastened the decay Bodies could not be buried in the water-filled sand In fact the floods had caused many of the already-buried to be floated from their graves Burial at sea was considered the only possibility and three barges were loaded with 700 bodies and towed 18 miles out in the Gulf Many of the bodies were weighted with chains before being dumped into the sea Most of the bodies washed ashore One woman wrote: "The sea as tbough it could never be satisfied with its gruesome work washed these bodies back upon the shore the waves being the hearses that carried them back to be buried under the sand" But they could not be buried in the sand Nevertheless people tried The sight of their loved ones being tossed onto funeral pyres along with island livestock was more than they could stand and many stole the bodies of their kin and tried to place them at rest under the sodden sand "There were so many dead you would sink into the silt onto a body at every other step" PO Tipp wrote Later after he helped tend the fires that incinerated as many as 12 corpses at a time he wrote that he had "done so much burning and so much work that 1 just gave out I was sick for a long time I can still smell the dead and the burning bodies like burnt sugar 1 will never forget those days" Fannie Ward a Red Cross worker recalled: "The peculiar smell of burning flesh so sickening at first became horribly familiar within the next two months when we lived in it and breathed it ate it and drank it day after day" The Associated Press wrote: "The City of Galveston is wrapped in sackcloth and ashes She sits beside her unnumbered dead and refuses to be comforted Her sorrow and her suffering are beyond description Her grief is unspeakable" I Galveston did recover although many people lost everything A sea wall was built to protect the city from another catastrophe and an impressive and exhausting plan to elevate much of the city was undertaken More than 2000 structures of various kinds were elevated including heavy majestic church- es and public buildings Channels were cut through town so dredge boats could bring sand from the Gulf into the city and pump the fill under homes and buildings that had been raised on timbers and jacks The "grade raising" as it was called was not officially completed until 1926 but by 1911 the city claimed itself ready to open for business again by building the luxurious Galvez Hotel "A group of businessmen built the hotel" said Wygant of the Historical Foundation "It was their way of saying 'We're back and we think the city is safe enough to make this huge investment'" The rebuilding effort took "incredible tenacity" said Michael Doherty chairman of the 1900 Storm Commemoration Committee "I think the sea wall and grade raising are among the greatest municipal feats of all time" The community decided that it wasn't going to be beaten down Doherty said The people realized what a wonderful port this was what a great place it was to live and they decided not to give it up "They still take pride in the recovery" Wygant said "People take pride in how many generations of their families have lived here People run for office on a platform of how many generations their family have been BOI (born on the island) Some people actually wear jewlerly that says B01 on it "It is kind of a funky odd place It's not your homogeneous suburb Galveston whether you like it or not is different It's laid back Probably because of that storm" Sources: Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems Galveston and the 1900 Storm by Patricia Bellis Hist!! and Elizabeth llayes Turner Calve-slim Historical Foundation Calveston County Historical Museum Star-Telegram archives Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word EAki To search the M vnnidtwcom I Art Chapman (817) 390-7422 ark Ostarielegramconi ' For today's Star-Telegram and more news and features go to wwwstar-telegramcom To search the Metroplex go to wwwdtwcom 11:23 :1-1 1 '1 I Tenn NC r 1 l!""r a-v""''—'171777:77-7 ar ':1 Okla Ark t t 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'" Al w it - 1:-L1-111-4-4t li rat‘ SC sc v' t''': —aP-1 - od -11-4 Fort th Miss Ala Ga Wor 114 1 1 ir Texas ' ' 14 4 61 -7-11 La i ' - '''''' I-4 - 30'N ----- --- olk - --allo1 Galveston' -4 t ' I 1 The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word o i Stiiiiii) 0 -- atts operated St Mary's Orphanage Ten sisters Corpus -4 Fla and a total of 90 children died Christi Nromaiiimagnoga064 - Gulf of Mexico F MEXICO '''': 4 "1 4 H 25'N BAHAMAS 1 a ! a iqa - 4 - f-a - - g I - 1 '1 ' ) ''-t ' a CUBA '"-'' e--ak '' a4 ::- --' 4411 ' '?'''' ' '- ' 'n''' - ---1 '-e - g-: "- 20'N The Roman Catholic pt 0'- A cathedral in the east end of - Category 4 ''-i - Caribbean Sea ' the city - 131-155 mph winds 44 -' 'r '' a'4 13-18 foot storm surge 1-e440fNr- ' aor ' -: -- ----- l''''''a — - ‘--4---' r :------- 1 tv i ri ' :'' :- rOc ' '''' i'' -1' : 1 I if '1'''''m IV 7 : 4e'N rt 151I 44 1 — it Ve t ' t ' : q r e '41CALA'11'' r r--- oaks 1 ----1 I ' - i ' voitillwil -' 4 : i ' tc -- '- 1 4 k - tli s'1t C'to ':'4' J11 N OW ' v't $ gt W ::':''ii :''''71"' )47:4 !:14tf 'S '' 7 ' 1i 11 --- j ' 4-4"'"''''''''' - i '-"' -girff )47 4 '''1' ty)'!---wr) - F 0044 N 1 i -1 i !e ' 1 'li u---it''''-- 350 1 L:l 01A— — 2 21"A 7 ' ' ' demon - T ""to — S ' - ' 0- — A ' -v-i t' k -: 1 ' ' ' t ' I V ' h ' : I ' ri : 4" 4! : ' : !o ' 0-- - ' " — - ' ' o : '- ! :: :74 - - : ''::: " 1 ''::' r' - ' : ! - 1 : 1 ' ---''''(' - - r---Le : t V ' ''f 1 - - ! ! i g - ' a l't If f : : r- ' 4 :'''qtj ii - lu '21401stio424dilMCG4 6 '' ! :' ' ':' ' 11-' 1P74j i" g ''' ' ' ' 1 '-' ' fild ' ' 11 -- '- Pi 1I' it 5 1T v t x ' r7-erl-i----4 f ) '' - :' 1 F 11' ' 1 in ""'' ' ' rl :-0:: ' ' 1 I - aatitek04 1 - lq ! i-!! f i' :!'-p ' 1 T' - 0 is ' 64-4 ' ''" t?:I -v : ' : '' 7711 11:i 1 j'114' 1 i- " wiopt isy&-f irrk -43 J 'f 1 be- i?i! 44 kt - - ' '''?"-- xli '- '1j:''' :'''''- r ' '4 N'4 41-''' ' ' f' 7''''i'V ''0 i 'I' f!' 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