Galveston, Texas


Galveston, TX
I'm on a bit of a road trip for the next two weeks and by 'bit' I mean we're driving from New Orleans, LA to Portland, OR (the other Portland). I have not traveled through the western part of the United States and it has become increasingly clear that my entire knowledge of western geography is limited to town names I recognize from disasters. We've only made it to Texas and thus far I've already recognized Texas City, West, and Galveston.

I insisted on a stop in Galveston to see the beach but mostly because of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the deadliest natural disaster in United States history. I read Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson (my favorite historical non-fiction author - see Devil in the White City) a few months ago so naturally I couldn't be so close and not see the island for myself.

My non-disasterologist friend
was a little less than thrilled
 to see the movie!
I did some research and found that the local theater does an hourly showing of The Great Storm, a little local treasure of a movie that recounts the response and recovery of Galveston. It contained roughly the same information as the book but featured some wonderful before and after photos of the actual hurricane. The amount of debris shown in the photos was quite startling, even for me. The logistics of removing it all...wow.

I also may or may not have nerded out when there was a mention of an emergent recovery group.

Interestingly the movie spoke a bit more than the book on the mitigation efforts put in place (i.e., raising the entire island and building a massive seawall). Structural mitigation frustrates me - an imperfect, temporary, solution - but it seems to have served them relatively well the past 100 years.

Plaque above the green
piece of paper on the wall
I resisted the urge to purchase the entire shelf of books on the 1900 Hurricane because I thought that might be a bit excessive. We also walked down to the beach. I suppose this is the original seawall that was built following 1900. I was a little surprised at how low it looks now.

We also stumbled upon a plaque showing the high water mark of Hurricane Ike in 2008. Even though I felt a bit awkward doing so
(see: Disaster Tourism), I took a picture. Of all recent hurricanes I know the least about Ike though it is unsurprising to see such a high watermark when once considers the barrier island's precarious location in the Gulf.

Galveston itself is an interesting town - think Panama City Beach, FL combined with Mid City, New Orleans, combined with a run down Texas business district. There's obviously a lot happening.