The 1900 Storm

John D. Blagden

I have seen many severe storms but never one like this. I remained in the office all night. It was in a building that stood the storm better than any other in the town. In the quarter of the city where I lodged nearly all drowned. The family with whom I roomed were all lost. I lost everything I brought with me from Memphis.

The next morning after the waters went down I went out to the south end. I had to go through the wreckage of buildings nearly the entire distance (one mile) and when I got there I found everything swept clean. Part of it was still under water.

I could not even find the place where I had been staying. I could not help seeing many bodies though I was not desirous of seeing them.

There is not a building in town that is uninjured. Hundreds are busy day and night clearing away the debris and recovering the dead. It is awful. Every few minutes a wagonload of corpses passes by on the street.

The more fortunate are doing all they can to aid the sufferers, but it is impossible to care for all. There is not room in the buildings standing to shelter them all and hundreds pass the night on the street. People but partially clothed are the rule. The City is under military rule and the streets are patrolled by armed guards.

They are expected to shoot at once anyone found looting. I understand four men have been shot today for robbing the dead. We have neither light, fuel, nor water. I am now writing by candlelight.

A famine is feared, as nearly all the provisions were ruined by the water which stood from six to fifteen feet in the streets and all communication to the outside is cut off.

Ida Smith Austin

The story of Galveston's tragedy can never be written. Galveston! The beautiful Island city is hardly recognizable today.

The water surged over the gallery driven by a furious wind. Trees began to fall, slate shingles, planks, and debris of every imaginable kind were hurled through the air. We brought our cow on the gallery but soon had to take her in the dining room where she spent the night. Ten very large trees were soon uprooted and fell crashing, banging, and scraping against our house. We opened all downstairs and let the water flow through. Soon it stood three feet in all the rooms.

The wind seemed to grow more furious. Blinds were torn off windows, frames, sash, and all blown in, and the rainwater stood an inch and a half on upstairs floors. Then slowly dripped through taking paper and plastering from ceilings in rooms below.

Source: The 1900 Storm
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