Galveston Tidal Wave and Flood Part 2

About the Galveston Tidal Wave and flood in Texas, the history of the disaster and destruction in 1900.


By late afternoon the most hardy of the remaining surf watchers were finally getting the message and began their retreat through knee-deep water to higher ground. It was already too late to try for the mainland. Darkness slowed their progress, for the power plants were out of commission.

At 7:32 P.M. the big tidal wave hit with unleashed fury. Wind velocity was recorded at 85 mph. Everyone perished at the Old Women's Home on Roseberg Avenue. Ocean steamers were tossed over the docks into the business section. Graveyards gave up their tombstones and corpses as the ghoulish waters uncovered coffins and sent them floating about in the wreckage and out into the Gulf.

Sisters of the Ursuline Convent rescued many victims from tidewaters that rushed by their big brick building 5 blocks from the beach. The highest ground in Galveston was only 5' above sea level. Before the onslaught of the rampaging sea, houses and other buildings crumbled like cardboard playthings. The Cline home, refuge of more than 50 people, had been built to withstand the heaviest storm. But it, too, tumbled when struck by a 200'-long section of railroad trestle and track. Damaged, but still in one piece, the house floated free only to be capsized by the wind; its people were dumped into the screaming blackness.

With the coming of midnight the destructive forces of nature began to abate. Galveston had lost its biggest battle. Devastation left in the wake of the huge tidal wave was beyond description. The civilized world, learning of the catastrophe, went into a state of shock. But the story doesn't end with death, doom, and destruction.

Aftermath: Most of the people of Galveston, after a suitable time of mourning, refused to accept defeat. Though the most conservative estimates of property damage ran above $17 million, townspeople went into action. Their city was completely rebuilt. A new, higher sea-wall was constructed, and the entire island was raised 17'. Today, Galveston, Tex., stands as a living memorial to its early residents who refused to capitulate to an angry Mother Nature.

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