Hurricane Harvey is similar in many ways to the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. One of the marked differences is the role modern technology plays in preventing the horrendous loss of life that occurred in 1900 from being repeated today.

The Galveston Hurricane

Harvey may look like the more dangerous hurricane on paper but the consequences of the Galveston Hurricane were much worse.

The city of Galveston was demolished when the hurricane struck on September 8, 1900. The highest points in the city when the hurricane hit ranged between seven and nine feet above sea level. The storm surge crested at 15 feet. The hurricane rolled over the island destroying everything in its path.

Homes were knocked off their foundations and either carried away or reduced to kindling and rubble. Thirty thousand people, almost the entire population of the city, were left homeless. The rest were dead.

The loss of life in Galveston was horrendous. The death toll is estimated between 6,000 and 12,000. The generally accepted total is 8,000 deaths but no one knows for sure. To gain some context, 1,836 people died as a result of Katrina in 2005. Eight thousand dead is more than the number of American deaths in the Iraq and Afghan wars combined. The Galveston Hurricane is the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.

There were too many bodies to bury so the corpses were weighted, shipped out into the Gulf of Mexico on barges, and dumped overboard. Shortly thereafter the bodies began to wash back onshore. The survivors and rescue personnel turned to constructing funeral pyres to burn the corpses. The fires burned day and night for weeks.

Source: As Terrible As Harvey Is, The Galveston Hurricane Of 1900 Was Much, Much Worse