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America is country, which has always shown a linear progress in the fields of science and research. It has been a global leader in economy and innovation. The success of the nation has made them confident and arrogant to face any challenge. American history is full of natural disaster and their ability to cope with them have been reasonably well and appreciated. However, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was one of the biggest natural devastation, the country has ever faced. This essay will explore how the incident strengthened or weakened the American claim to cope with nature and its challenges.
The hurricane of Galveston occurred in 1900. However, warnings of danger were present even before the hurricane struck. The Galveston hurricane was a twelfth of its kind. A few years before the incident, the U.S government established Gulf quarantine on islands, such as Chandeleur and others. This step was only taken after consistent demands from the people of Mississippi and Louisiana (Ibid, 241-3).
The first hurricane struck Galveston in 1875, which was followed by two more storms in 1877 and 1886. These three storms destroyed most of the work done by the American government at the Galveston harbor. However, as the storms were not particularly severe, the town escaped without notable damage (Brennan, 134-8).
Since, the town "could” survive these storms, it bred a feeling of overwhelming confidence among the people of this place and the rest of the America that it has successfully coped with some of the worst natural disasters, and no storm or hurricane can injure Galveston. Hence, when the hurricane of 1900 arrives, most of the citizen of Galveston just shut themselves inside their homes and waited for the hurricane to pass, instead of finding a safe place to hide. The people were aware that the hurricane would result in flooding the streets. However, the citizens were not concerned about the flooding as they had witnessed it so often before in their lives (Brennan, 145-7).
The U.S Weather Bureau took a lot of provide in their features and accuracy of weather prediction. They first noticed disturbances (storm) on the 30th of August around the region of Windward Islands. According to the Bureau, the storm did not have any hurricane tendencies; however it did carry a lot of rain with it (10.5-inch inch rain). The rain continued for two consecutive days (3rd to 4th September) and in that period of time, the officials at the Weather Bureau were posed a question, “whether the storm would reserve and pass up along the Atlantic coast or whether it would continue northwesterly over the Gulf of Mexico?” The Beareo did act quickly and sought advice regarding the matter from the Bahamas Islands. However, no concrete action was taken and on the 8th of September, the barometric readings showed a pressure of 29.22 inches with a wind speed of forty-two miles an hour. This was a clear indication that the storm was emerging closer and closer to the city Centre. Hence, no rescue or critical warning signals were sent to the city (Green 177-82).
A report by Associated Press at Houston on 10th September read, “The cyclone that produced such an appalling disaster was predicted by the United States Weather Bureau to strike Galveston Friday night, and created much apprehension, but the night passed without the prediction being verified” (Green 264).
The narrations of the above-mentioned reports are a clear indicator that the United States Weather Bureau and the people of Galveston had enough warnings to prepare for the hurricane. However, they chose to downplay the impact of the hurricane. The primary reason for that was the region and the country as a whole, has faced a lot of natural disasters since its formation and has come out from them stronger than ever. This feeling of superiority and being immune to a natural disaster worked against them and resulted in the huge number of casualties. If there had been more severe warnings communicated to the people of Galveston by a government source then it is quite possible that the people of the city would not have been just content with shutting themselves in their homes and sitting as helpless targets for the hurricane (Green 283-6).
The devastation caused by the hurricane of Galveston is labeled as the “deadliest” hurricane faced by the U.S. The casualty toll is in the region of 8,000 to 12,000. In the aftermath of the incident, a number of protective measures were taken for the Island and the warning system for other parts of the country as well. One of the measures adopted to protect the island was to raise the city by dredged sand. Engineers assigned to perform this elevation were able to successfully raise the city by as much as seventeen feet. In my opinion, the loss of lives and the protective measure taken in the aftermath of this disaster clearly indicate that the confidence of U.S in coping with nature was shattered, and they became more aware of the threat nature posed at them.