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The big one: 108 years ago, the nation's worst natural disaster nearly destroyed Galveston

Survivors search through debris after the Galveston hurricane of  1900.
Survivors search through debris after the Galveston hurricane of 1900. Rosenberg Library

On the morning of Sept. 8, 1900, Galveston residents awoke to rising tides and blustery winds, but with little sense of alarm. The city had weathered hurricanes before and was confident it would survive this one, too.

But in less than 24 hours, Texas’ most dazzling city — the first to have electricity and telephones, the most cultured and exciting — was almost destroyed by a horrific storm that took more than 6,000 lives.

The Galveston hurricane remains the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

As Clara Barton, founder and president of the American National Red Cross, wrote when she arrived to offer assistance: "It was one of those monstrosities of nature which defied exaggeration and fiendishly laughed at all tame attempts of words to picture the scene it had prepared."

A staggering catastrophe













Little time to plan













Then it hit





















The island loses contact













Expecting to die





















Trying to save the orphans

Queen of the Waves.











Queen of the Waves.



Fort Worth Morning Register



Bodies everywhere

































A massive rebuilding effort

































Sources: Isaac’s Storm, A Weekend in September, Galveston and the 1900 Storm, Star-Telegram
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