The text introduction and all of the pictures below about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 — the deadliest natural disaster in United States history — were published in the book, The great Galveston disaster, containing a full and thrilling account of the most appalling calamity of modern times including vivid descriptions of the hurricane, by Paul Lester and Richard Spillane (1900).
Galveston Almost Totally Destroyed by Winds and Waves
Thousands Swept to Instant Death
Thousands of men, women and children swept to sudden death. Millions of dollars worth of property destroyed. Scenes of suffering and desolation that beggar description. Heroic efforts to save human life. The world shocked by the appalling news. Such is the thrilling story of the Galveston flood.
There have been many disasters by storm and flood in modern times, but none to equal this. In the brief space of twelve hours, more persons lost their lives than were killed during a year of the war between the British and the Boers, or during a year and a half of our war in the Philippines.
The calamity came suddenly. Galveston was not aware of its impending fate. News of an approaching cyclone produced no alarm. Suddenly word was sent that the hurricane was bending from its usual course and might strike the city. Even then there was no sudden fear, no hurrying to escape, no thought of swift destruction.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the city waked up to the awful fact that it was to be engulfed by a tidal wave, and buried in the flood of waters.
News of the great Galveston Hurricane of 1900
The news of the overwhelming disaster came as a shock to people everywhere. Bulletin boards in all our cities were surrounded by eager crowds to obtain the latest reports. Many who had friends in the stricken city were kept in suspense respecting their fate. With bated breath was the terrible calamity talked about, and in every part of our country committees of relief were immediately formed.
The magnitude of the disaster grew from day to day. Every fresh report added to the intelligence already received, and it was made clear that a large part of the city of Galveston, with its inhabitants, had been swept out of existence.
There were splendid examples of courage and heroism. The graphic description of the great disaster contained in this book thrills the reader. Amidst the alarm, the threatening death, the overwhelming flood, he sees how nobly men struggled to save their families and their fortunes. He seems to ride on the crest of the waves and witness with his own eyes the terrible tragedy.
Our Government at Washington was quick to come to the rescue. It ordered tents to be provided and issued rations by the tens of thousands for the survivors. The chords of sympathy which make all men akin vibrated through every part of the civilized world.
Galveston Hurricane of 1900: The tangled mass of ruins on 19th street