From TIA Daily:

The key question every time there is a natural disaster is not, “How did this happen?” Nature is dangerous, and it is always causing a disaster for someone, somewhere. Nor is the question, “Who is to blame?” There is always something more that could have been done to protect this or that place–at an expenditure of millions or billions, against a risk that could not be predicted. The only really important question after a disaster is: “How are we going to recover?” […] The 1900 Storm is still the deadliest natural disaster in US history, with estimates of lives lost ranging between 8,000 to 12,000. It utterly destroyed and almost entirely flooded the island city of Galveston, Texas, and killed 6,000 of its inhabitants. This is the story of the rebuilding of Galveston after the storm.

“For while the story that began Sept. 8, 1900, is one about the fate of people at the hands of nature, it’s also one about people altering their own fates by changing the face of nature…. Despite the unimaginable devastation and what must have been a hard realization that it could happen again, the city immediately began pulling itself out of the mud….Residents of Galveston quickly decided that they would rebuild, that the city would survive, and almost as soon, leaders began deciding how it would do so.”

“The two civil engineering projects leaders decided to pursue–building a seawall and raising the island’s elevation–stand today and are almost as great in their scope and effect as the storm itself…. The feat of raising an entire city began with three engineers hired by the city in 1901 to design a means of keeping the gulf in its place…. Along with building a seawall, Alfred Noble, Henry M. Robert and HC Ripley recommended the city be raised 17 feet at the seawall and sloped downward at a pitch of one foot for every 1,500 feet to the bay…. The first task required to translate their vision into a working system was a means of getting more than 16 million cubic yards of sand–enough to fill more than a million dump trucks–to the island.

[…] McComb sums it up about as well as it can be: “Human technology made it possible – for the city of Galveston to remain on such unstable land. The city did not flourish. Houston – left the island city far behind. Galveston simply survived. “The public defenses against nature came at a high cost, but they succeeded for the most part. Its struggle for survival against nature through the application of technology represents the strongest tradition of Western civilization. Galveston’s response to the great storm was its finest hour.”  []

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