In this gripping narrative history, Al Roker from NBC’s Today and the Weather Channel vividly examines the deadliest natural disaster in American history—a haunting and inspiring tale of tragedy, heroism, and resilience that is full of lessons for today’s new age of extreme weather.
On the afternoon of September 8, 1900, two-hundred-mile-per-hour winds and fifteen-foot waves slammed into Galveston, the booming port city on Texas’s Gulf Coast. By dawn the next day, the city that hours earlier had stood as a symbol of America’s growth and expansion was now gone. Shattered, grief-stricken survivors emerged to witness a level of destruction never before seen: Eight thousand corpses littered the streets and were buried under the massive wreckage. Rushing water had lifted buildings from their foundations, smashing them into pieces, while wind gusts had upended steel girders and trestles, driving them through house walls and into sidewalks. No race or class was spared its wrath. In less than twenty-four hours, a single storm had destroyed a major American metropolis—and awakened a nation to the terrifying power of nature.
Blending an unforgettable cast of characters, accessible weather science, and deep historical research into a sweeping and dramatic narrative, The Storm of the Century brings this legendary hurricane and its aftermath into fresh focus. No other natural disaster has ever matched the havoc caused by the awesome mix of winds, rain, and flooding that devastated Galveston and shocked a young, optimistic nation on the cusp of modernity. Exploring the impact of the tragedy on a rising country’s confidence—the trauma of the loss and the determination of the response—Al Roker illuminates the United States’s character at the dawn of the “American Century,” while also underlining the fact that no matter how mighty they may become, all nations must respect the ferocious potential of our natural environment.
In this chronological account, TV meteorologist Roker revisits the "worst natural disaster of any kind, ever to hit the United States": the category-four hurricane that pounded Galveston, Tex., on Sept. 8, 1900. The storm killed more than 10,000 people, caused nearly $20 million in damages ($700 million in 2015 dollars), and left "a great city reduced overnight to miles of rubble." Roker introduces readers to such local figures as Galveston's chief meteorologist, Isaac Cline, "a nationally recognized weather expert" who nevertheless failed to prepare the city for disaster; Annie and Ed McCullough, newlyweds whose home "lay two short blocks from the gulf beach"; and police chief Edwin N. Ketchum, a "proud Yankee veteran" who hosted popular annual picnics. He sets the stage for the drama with a comprehensive, but accessible history of Galveston, at the time "Texas's greatest metropolis" and "one of the world's greatest ports." However, readers are left in the dark as to why Roker decided to retell this story now, and whatever resonances may exist with more recent events are left implied, rather than explored explicitly. Without more context or connection, readers will be left wondering what Roker's goal might be.
Detailed and thoughtful
Roker gives a complete and compassionate description of this terrible disaster. He puts the storm in the context of Galveston’s history, the South’s history, US history, and the history of meteorology. And he does it while explaining in full what we know if the storm’s beginning, development and end and HOW we could know these things at the time and today. Roker also describes, from survivors, the human experience before, during and after. Fantastic work and I would love to see more histories like this from Roker.
Storm of the Century
Having read previous works about the Galveston Hurricane, this book surpassed all else. Much more detail especially about what came later. How those citizens recovered, rebuilt and improved their infrastructure is wise and far-sighted. This is a real page-turner and well worth reading.
The storm of the century
Love the fact that this narrative is written by a scientist in a manner that includes facts and drama. Also appreciate the fact that those whose voices weren't included in the zeitgeist of that period are included--those poor black people gathering and burning the bodies. My only complaint is that instead of writing detective fiction, I wish he'd write now about more storms and CLIMATE CANGE. HELLO!!!