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Tropical Depression NINE 2016… or Something Stronger

While it may seem calm outside right now, and Nassau County’s Emergency Operations Center facebook page says it will activate to a Level 2 (indicating a threat is looming) at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, you need to pay attention to the television and radio for the newest updates on Tropical Depression NINE. Knowing when the National Hurricane Center delivers updates will keep you from wasting hours of precious time in anticipation of the newest news as the system approaches the Florida peninsula. Official updates including the progress and potential track of the storm, watches and/or warnings that may be issued, and the associated maps and graphics are updated every six hours… think 5:00 and 11 o’clock (a.m. and p.m.). In addition, interim updates come out at 2:00 and 8 o’clock. Times are set to the time zone of the center of the tropical disturbance (I think).

It has been quite some time since our last big tropical event, so we may be a bit complacent and lackadaisical while the local media focuses on the pending system. At the time I wrote this, there were no current warnings or watches up for northeast Florida, but, they will likely be issued should the system remain on the current track.

Just to be safe, this may be a good time to open the hurricane kit you have stored in the garage and see what’s in there. Is it possible that some of your emergency supplies may be expired, or were used on your most recent camping trip? I suggest you go ahead and stock up on water, baby food, diapers, and formula, medications and personal sanitary supplies, pet food, extra batteries, and non-perishable foods that will last for three to five days should we experience an extended power outage, or flooded or blocked roads. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit, too.

It is a good idea to have a similar kit packed in your car in case you need to leave in a hurry. Don’t forget food, water, jumper cables, and a map – as signs often blow down. The GPS on your smartphone phone may finally come in handy! This may be a good time to charge those portable cell phone chargers that have been laying around the house since last Christmas, as well.

Make an emergency plan for communicating with friends, relatives, and loved ones. We use someone, not in our geographical location, as a central source for communicating with others. A large portion of our family is located in various parts of Florida, but our oldest daughter is in Chattanooga; she will be our central point of communications.

As the system approaches, it is looking like we may indeed experience sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph as it passes through Northeast Florida. Flooding and flash flooding could be an issue as the depression is expected to produce 4 to 6 inches of rain over Amelia Island by Friday morning, and up to 12 inches in some areas.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, make preparations now such as filling sandbags or moving furniture, vehicles and other valuables to higher ground. You should go ahead and secure items around your home so they don’t become projectiles in the event of high winds. Items to put away or tie down include:

Yard signs (We just had “election day”)
Lawn furniture
Buckets
Children’s toys
Tiki torches
Pool toys
Plants stands and shepherd hooks
Trash cans
Yard art and Landscaping “features”

Watches and Warning
A Watch = conditions are favorable for a weather event to occur.
A Warning = Weather events have been reported by spotters.

Example:
A severe thunderstorm watch would mean conditions are favorable for a severe thunderstorm to occur.
A severe thunderstorm warning means severe thunderstorms are occurring in the designated “warning” area.

The same with a tornado watch vs. a tornado warning. A tornado “watch” means conditions are ripe for a tornado to occur, while a tornado “warning” means a tornado has been spotted in the designated warning area. Tornadoes are very likely when these tropical systems pass over land.

Power outages and wind
Usually our electricity begins to fail when power lines are knocked down by flying debris and falling limbs. With gusts of 20 to 30 mph you can expect dead limbs to fall from trees. With winds of 30 to 40 mph, large trees begin to sway and walking can be tough; lawn furniture will blow around and trash cans will tumble over. At 41 to 50 mph, branches will break off of trees, you may see shingles blow off, and eaves can lift, too. NOAA.gov describes “Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50 – 60 mph” and along with 60 mph winds you can expect windows to blow out and parts of your roof to fly off, and at 75 mph – structures can become compromised and debris being blown around becomes hazardous to people, and everything else in its path. And winds can become stronger if they are funneled between tight areas – such as houses that are built very close together.

Unlike a typical 30 minute summer thunderstorm, where we see strong winds and torrential rains, these tropical conditions can last for several hours.

I’m currently trying to find an “accurate” answer to when the bridges to Amelia Island are closed due to high winds.

Updates to this article may be added as warranted.

Stay safe!

Tropical Storm Chantal in our Long Term Forecast

Tropical Storm Chantal in our Long Term ForecastTropical Storm Chantal has formed and is disturbing weather in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Martinique, Dominica and other countries, but she is still a long way from Fernandina’s shores! Anyway, I’m sure we’ll chat about her more later on this week, in future forecasts for Nassau County, especially if her strength increases as predicted.

A closer area of disturbed weather will increase our chance for showers as we go thru the week. Nothing is expected to form in the next day or two, but we’ll keep an eye out for you.

July 9, 2013: Tuesday will be sunny in Fernnaidna Beach with highs in the mid 80s. Winds will come from our East at about 10 mph.
Tonight: Expect partly cloudy skies overnight with lows in the mid 70s and mild winds from the SE.
Tomorrow: Amelia Island heats up again on Wednesday with highs near 90, yes, even at the beaches. Lows will be in the mid 70s with a 20% chance of rain.
Thursday: Rains enter the forecast with a 50/50 shot of precipitation here in NE Florida. Otherwise, skies will be sunny with highs in the upper 80s. Lows will be in the mid 70s.
Friday: A good chance of showers or storms will hit us again on Friday with those sunny days heating up the overhead clouds. Lows will be in the mid to upper 70s.

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October 2012 Spawns Hurricane Sandy

October 2012 Spawns Hurricane SandyOctober 26, 2012: Tie down your outdoor furniture Pooh, it is about to be a “Blustery day in the Hundred Acre Woods.” Hurricane Sandy has prompted storm and hurricane watches and warnings from the Bahamas to Fernandina Beach here in Florida. Friday will bring a 30% chance of rain to Amelia Island with partly cloudy skies, strong and gusty NE winds near 40 mph at times, and highs in the upper 70s.
Tonight: We will be keeping an eye on the storm for updates, but so far lows should be in the upper 60s, with a 50% chance of rain and winds from the North at 25 to 30 mph. Gusts will be as high as 40 mph.
Tomorrow: Saturday is looking worse than it did yesterday. Highs will be in the upper 70s with winds around 25 to 30 mph, and gusts pushing 40 mph. Lows will be in the upper 50s with howling winds continuing.
Sunday: Sunny on Sunday of course, it almost always is on Amelia Island. Expect breezy conditions with highs in the upper 70s. Lows will drop into the upper 50s under clear skies.
Monday: Monday will be much cooler, with highs projected to be in the upper 60s. It will still be windy. Lows will be in the upper 40s!

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Hurricane Hazards: Winds 2012

Hurricane Hazards: Winds 2012Hurricane Preparedness Week bring the discussion of wind and wind speeds. What does a category one or a category 2 really mean? Below you will find the definition of wind speeds and their hazards based on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scalewww.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php classifies hurricanes into five categories based on their sustained wind speed at the indicated time. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and property. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous and require preventive measures.

It is important that you know your hurricane warning and alerts terminology www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE19um4VlGU&cc_load_policy=1&list=PL63A9138A2047B1A4– the difference between watches and alerts:

Tropical Storm Watch: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.
Hurricane Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
Hurricane Warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane wind damage often result in power outages. FEMA works very closely with the Department of Energy who serves as the focal point for response and recovery efforts by monitoring energy infrastructure and coordinates the response across the federal community, state and local governments, and industry.

The Energy Departmen’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) is the designated Federal Sector-Specific agency directing activities for the Energy Sector. In the event of an emergency, this office maintains teams of responders that specialize in energy infrastructure.

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Hurricane Safety Tips From Paul Davis Emergency Services

Hurricane Safety Tips St. Marys, GA – June is National Hurricane Preparedness Month and marks the beginning of hurricane season. According to forecasters, the Atlantic basin is facing a busy hurricane season with an estimated 12 to 18 named storms this year including six to 10 that will become hurricanes. As a public service, Paul Davis Emergency Services, a leading provider of fire and water damage clean up and restoration services for residential and commercial properties, is offering these tips for hurricane season to help keep families safe.

According to Rana Killough, Paul Davis office owner, hurricane preparedness includes:

Pre-hurricane season preparation:

•Put together a plan for your family and go over it with them.
•Know your evacuation routes.
•Put together an “Emergency Ready Kit” to include proper tools, supplies and first aid kit.
•Have plenty of batteries and flashlights and at least a 3-day supply of water and non-perishable foods.

When a hurricane watch or warning is issued:

•Leave low lying areas.
•Protect windows with plywood boards or storm shutters.
•Secure outside objects.
•Make sure you have plenty of fuel and water for several days.
•Evacuate if instructed to leave.
•Be ready to put your plan and preparation to action.
•Pay attention to local weather reports on radio, TV or the Internet.
•Make sure all your tools, supplies, first aid, food, fuel and personal items are ready for use.

What to do during the storm:

•Stay in a secure room and away from windows.
•Don’t use the telephone or candles.
•Monitor weather and civic service bulletins on regular or NOAA weather radio.
•Have supplies on hand.
•Remain indoors when the eye of the hurricane moves over your area, the storm will resume shortly.

What to do after the storm:

•Make sure everyone is safe and accounted for.
•Monitor the radio for information from emergency management.
•Before venturing outside, ensure the storm has completely passed.
•Report downed power lines and stay away from them.

If you experience property damage after a storm or hurricane, Killough recommends contacting a restoration professional that specializes in water damage clean up and restoration with technicians who are certified from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. Call (912) 342-2220 or visit the website at www.pdescamden.com.

Out of Sight is Out of Mind

Experts are disecting Unusual Hurricane Season

How easy is it to forget storms and the hot days of summer when hurricanes and tropical storms stay far away from us. The 2010 Hurricane Season came to an end as the third most active season in history, yet for us it came and went almost unnoticed.

The active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season ended Tuesday, and although the U.S. was spared any direct hits of destruction, other destinations didn’t fare as well, including St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Barbados.
Remarkable as this season produced 19 named storms (tied for third with 1995 and 1887), 12 of which became hurricanes. Only 1933 (21 storms) and 2005 (a record 28 storms) were more active seasons.

And it actually took until the last hurricane of the season, Hurricane Tomas in late October, that we took notice as it killed 41 in the Caribbean and Central America and caused more than $500 million in damage. St. Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King described Tomas as the island’s “worst natural disaster.” Floods and landslides closed roads leading to the airports, bringing tourism to a standstill for a week. St. Vincent and Barbados also were hit hard by Tomas. But bringing tourism to a standstill for a full week, is almost a riot for people like me who faced, Gilbert 1988, Hugo 1989, Luis 1995, Mitch 1998, Lenny and company in 1999 and half a dozen other ones in that crazy year, when names ran out twice (2005). Each of those mentioned forced tourism on its knees for the better art of a year if not longer.

In 2010 Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic got hit with heavy rains several times during the six-month season, wiping out roads and bridges. Nicaragua and Honduras got pummeled…again. Hurricanes Karl and Paula caused damage in Mexico.
Guess what … even Canada took a hit. Newfoundland reported about $100 million in damage and one death from Hurricane Igor in September.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Gov. John de Jongh requested disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency three times due to flood damage from named tropical storms. FEMA has become reluctant to give in to financial requests from the US Virgins, considering the many fraudulent activities in the past hurricane hits.

Hurricanes caused $1.6 billion in damage and killed hundreds, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The 2010 season started with Alex, the first Atlantic hurricane to form in June since 1966, and ended with Tomas on Halloween weekend.
Before the season began, forecasters predicted an active season, and they turned out to be right. In May, the National Hurricane Center predicted 14 to 23 named storms and 8 to 14 hurricanes.

Imagine the level of destruction if only one category 3 hurricane would have gotten hold of the Oil Leak in the Gulf!!

Florida got spared and up here on Amelia Island, we are wondering why insurance premiums for us still include the excessive wind damage rates. As a former Caribbean Islander I celebrated Hurricane Thanksgiving quietly.

The 10 Costliest Hurricanes to Hit the U.S.

One of many ways Nature gets revenge

With the height of the Hurricane Season staring us in the face and 3 storms brewing in the Atlantic (Earl, Fiona and Gaston), it should be just a reminder to check your insurance policies (if you were lucky enough to get coverage) and make some intense preparations.

These are the ten costliest hurricanes that made US landfall so far as measured by cost (all figures are in inflation adjusted dollars).

1. Hurricane Katrina August 2005
Louisiana and Mississippi
The most destructive hurricane in US History caused an estimated $200 billion in damage.

2. Hurricane Andrew
August 24 – 28, 1992
South Florida and Louisiana
A Category 4 when it hit Florida, Hurricane Andrew hit Louisiana as a Category 3. Andrew caused an approximated $43.672 billion in damages.

3. Hurricane Charley
August 13 – 14, 2004
Florida
Although a relatively small hurricane, Charley was very intense, causing $15 billion in damage.

4. Hurricane Ivan
September 16 – 24, 2004
It killed the Southern Caribbean Island of Grenanda and then hit the Southeastern United States.
Hurricane Ivan hit Gulf Shores, Alabama on September 16, producing more than 100 tornados and flooding across the American southeast. The remnants of the storm hit the Delmarva Peninsula on the 18th, where it picked up speed, passed back down the coast, became a tropical storm again in the Gulf and then hit Louisiana as a tropical depression. Ivan left $14.2 billion in damage in its wake.

5. Hurricane Hugo
September 22, 1989
St.Croix, Puerto Rico andCharleston, South Carolina
A Category 5, Hurricane Hugo caused $12.25 billion in damages.

6. Hurricane Agnes

June 19 – 25, 1972
South and North Eastern United States
Although a Category 1, and at other times not even a hurricane at all, Agnes carved an $11.2 billion path of destruction from the Florida Panhandle to New York, New York. Most of the damage came from heavy rains.

7. Hurricane Betsy
September 7 – 9, 1965
Southeast Florida, Southeast Louisiana
Falling just short of being classified as a Category 5, Betsy struck the Florida Keys on the 7th, and New Orleans on the 9th. Flooding from the storm breached the levees in New Orleans, leaving the city flooded for ten days. Betsy is also called “Billion Dollar Betsy” because it was the first to cause a billion dollars in damage. In today’s dollars, the total would be $10.79 billion.

8. Hurricane Frances
September 5, 2004
Florida
Frances was a Category 2 that caused $8.9 billion in damage primarily as a result of rain and flooding in heavy populated areas.

9. Hurricane Camille
August 17 – 22, 1969
Mississippi, SE Louisiana, Virginia

Camille, a Category 5, was the second most intense Hurricane ever to hit the United States. The final windspeed will never be known because all measuring devices were destroyed. Storm tides, winds, and flash flooding caused by the storm on its track to West Virginia and Virginia caused $8.8 billion in damages.

10. Hurricane Diane

August 17 – 19, 1955
Northeast coast from Virginia to New York

Diane, along with her sister storm, Connie, which hit the same areas just five days earlier, caused $6.9 billion in damage. Most of the damage was caused by flooding.

Publisher’s Note:

Allow me the observation of the following hypothetical scenario.
My house carries a mortgage of $500,000; it is insured for this amount against storm and flooding.(Mortgage requirement). The recent economic downturn has caused the appraised value to be lowered to $300,000. A hurricane renders my property a total loss. Is that loss calculated at $300,000 or $500,000? Does my mortgage company get $300,000 pay out and do I still owe them $200,000 because the insurance adjuster signs off on replacement value and not the insured value?
You think about it. I have been there on several occasions in my life. I know who gets the short end of the stick. How about you?

Hurricanes: When Man Believes Nature can be Disregarded

Galveston Island and the Mainland Causeway

When Galveston, Texas, woke up on September 8, 1900, the city was well on its way to becoming the most prosperous city in the nation, brimming with activity, commerce, and confidence. Its nicknames were the Ellis Island of the South and Wall Street of the Southwest. But on the morning of September 9 it was a city decimated and humbled by nature, with 8,000 dead, its businesses and homes unrecognizable, its hope swept away by what even now in 2010 is still the deadliest weather disaster in American history. And its previous prominence had forever moved further north to the city of Houston.

Every island in the Caribbean has a name they fear; every coastal city or town in the hurricane belt that ever went through a direct hit will forever remember the name of the storm and the painful scars it left behind. Jamaica remembers Gilbert, Roatan remembers Mitch, St.Croix remembers Hugo, St.Maarten fears the name Luis, Miami will always remember the name Andrew, the Mississippi coastline would get real nervous today if Camille would be a name in the season’s line up, very few newborn girls in New Orleans will get the name Katrina for many years to come and Galveston Texas will forever remember September 8, 1900 as “the storm” or the “Galveston Flood”.

Before 1950 hurricanes did not have official names. They simply became known in the aftermath of the disaster as the 1900 storm that decimated Galveston or the 1935 storm that destroyed the Florida Keys. Today storms that result in death will be taken out of the name line up as the process of naming a storm is like naming a pet, it makes it very personal. Even though less personal, “the storm” that hit Galveston Texas on September 8th of the year 1900 became very personal for many, as it was for Isaac Cline, the chief of the U.S. Weather Service bureau in Galveston, who lost his pregnant wife, but miraculously saved his three children that night.

Galveston, September 9, 1900

In his memoirs, meteorologist Cline referred to the morning after the storm as “a most beautiful day,” as it was indeed a sunny, warm day, the kind of day people came to Galveston for at the turn of the century. But few visitors would walk the sandy shores for many months after the infamous hurricane.
Instead, bodies of the dead that were improperly buried at sea washed back ashore on those beaches, leaving even more treacherous work for the cleanup crews. The storm left behind a horrendous legacy that extended across the country, as families moved from the island, they carried with them the story of that night and the burn piles of the aftermath.

Pre-Storm

In 1891 young Dr. Isaac Cline, appointed 2 years earlier to the post of chief meteorologist, wrote an article in the Galveston Daily News in which he argued not only that a seawall was not needed to protect the city, but also that it would be impossible for a hurricane of significant strength to strike the island. As the result of this compelling essay the seawall was not built, and development activities on the island actively increased its vulnerability to storms. Sand dunes along the shore were cut down to fill low areas in the city, removing what little barrier there was to the Gulf of Mexico. Nine years later those words came back to haunt him.

Due to its natural deepwater channel Galveston had become the most important seaport in Texas as trains carried cargo to and from the port and ships traveled across the seas. The Panama Canal was not built yet, so a lot of West Coast production with a European destination was shipped via Galveston’s rail connection. The town was populated by more than 42,000 people of which some 37,000 residents and wealth and prosperity was abound. Because many rich Texans dwelled on the island, it was home to many firsts, like electricity, public water systems and telephone.
But the same characteristics of coastal living that made the city attractive to its residents and guests, left it vulnerable to nature’s tempestuous storms.

On September 4, the Galveston office of the U.S. Weather Bureau began receiving warnings from the Bureau’s central office in Washington, D.C. that a “tropical storm” had moved northward over Cuba. The Weather Bureau forecasters had no way of knowing where the storm was or where it was going. At the time, they discouraged the use of terms such as tornado or hurricane to avoid panicking residents in the path of any storm event. Conditions in the Gulf of Mexico were ripe for further strengthening of the storm. The Gulf had seen little cloud cover for several weeks, and the seas were as warm as bathwater, according to one report. For a storm system that feeds off moisture, the Gulf of Mexico was enough to boost the storm from a tropical storm to a hurricane in a matter of days, with further strengthening likely.
In 1900 there were no refined instruments nor hurricane hunters and satellite observations like we have today. Forecasting was a matter of guessing based on available data. Most Weather Bureau forecasters predicted the storm to bend northeast ward, but Cuban forecasters who had had the opportunity to follow the storm as it moved as a tropical storm from east to west over their island, claimed that central Texas would be the target for landfall.

The Galveston Hurricane Track as Reconstructed in later years

Galveston Island did not have a telling history with hurricanes or tropical cyclones as they were called then. All that meteorologist Cline had at his disposal was a barometer, thermometer, wind speed reader and his personal observation. And even though he observed gulf water creeping over the low ends of the island at 5am, a full 15 hours before the wrath of nature fully exposed itself, residents continued about their daily activities as children played in the rising flood waters.

From atop the National Weather Service bureau, Cline watched storm swells rise, the barometer drop and the winds grow stronger as the day moved on. He rode up and down the beach on his horse urging visitors to go home and residents within three blocks of the beach to move to higher ground. Of course higher ground was a relative term on an island where the highest house in the city was at an elevation between 8 and 9 feet.
And as so often during hurricane warnings, Cline’s plea would prove fruitless as the night approached and tens of thousands were caught in the fury.
Many years later Cline wrote in his memoirs “Storms, Flood and Sunshine,”(1945, Pelican Publishing) that by the peak of the storm, no part of the island remained dry as “In reality, there was no island, just the ocean with houses standing out of the waves which rolled between them.”

At the last daylight, he walked home through deep water and found refuge with some 50 people at his house near the beach, which he thought to be one of the best sheers in that part of town.

The Storm

The hurricane brought with it a storm surge of over 15.7 feet (4.9 m), which washed over the entire island with a highest elevation of only 8.7 feet. The surge knocked buildings off their foundations and the surf pounded them to pieces. Over 3,600 homes were destroyed and a wall of debris faced the ocean as it kept knocking over other structures like a giant game of bowling.

The highest measured wind speed was 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) just after 6 p.m., but the Weather Bureau’s anemometer was blown off the building shortly after that measurement was recorded. The eye-wall passed over the city around 8 p.m. and maximum winds were estimated at 135 mph by later estimates, which made it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale . The worst of the storm was over by midnight, a mere 4 hours later, hours most survivors would remember for the rest of their lives.

Storm damage as survivors pick up the pieces of their life

The Aftermath

After the storm had passed only 20 people that had sought shelter at Cline’s residence were still among the living.
An estimated 8,000 people died that night or 1 in 5 of the island’s population, making it still the deadliest storm in US history. Most of the dead had drowned or been crushed as the waves pounded the debris that had been their homes hours earlier. Many survived the storm itself but died after several days trapped under the wreckage of the city, with rescuers unable to reach them. Initially the dead were buried at sea, but once it was discovered that they landed back up on the beaches, huge funeral pyres were lit. A further 30,000 people were left homeless.

To prevent future storms from causing destruction like that of the 1900 hurricane, many improvements to the island were made. The first 3 miles (4.8 km) of the 17-foot (5 m) high Galveston Seawall were built beginning in 1902 while an all-weather bridge was constructed to the mainland to replace the ones destroyed in the storm.

In 1915, a storm similar in strength and track to the 1900 hurricane struck Galveston and brought a 12-ft (4-m) storm surge which tested the new seawall. Although 53 people on Galveston Island lost their lives in the that storm, this was a great reduction from the 8,000 thousand that had died 15 years earlier.

The most dramatic effort to protect the city from future storm impacts was its raising. Dredged sand was used to raise the city of Galveston by as much as 17 feet (5.2 m) above its previous elevation. Over 2,100 buildings were raised in the process, including the 3,000-ton St. Patrick’s Church.

The Galveston Seawall or "Art Wall" that would have saved a lot of lives.

A Survivor’s Tale

One of the thirty-three accounts in the famed Rosenberg Library in Galveston, is a letter written by John D. Blagden to his family in Duluth, Minnesota, while serving a temporary assignment at the Galveston Weather Bureau office away from his permanent station in Memphis, Tennessee. Aside from Isaac Cline’s personal report, Blagden’s letter is the only other account at the Rosenberg Library of someone stationed at the Weather Bureau office.

Weather Bureau
Galveston Tex
Sept 10, 1900

To All at home

Very probably you little expect to get a letter from me from here but here I am alive and without a scratch. That is what few can say in this storm swept City. I have been here two weeks, to take the place of a man who is on a three months leave, after which I go back to Memphis.

Of course you have heard of the storm that passed over this place last Friday night, but you cannot realize what it really was. I have seen many severe storms but never one like this. I remained in the office all night. It was in a building that stood the storm better than any other in the town, though it was badly damaged and rocked frightfully in some of the blasts. In the quarter of the city where I lodged (south part) everything was swept and nearly all drowned. The family with whom I roomed were all lost. I lost everything I brought with me from Memphis and a little money, but I think eighty Dollars will cover my entire loss: I am among the fortunate ones.

The Local Forecast Official, Dr. Cline, lives in the same part of the City and his brother (one of the observers here) boarded with him. They did not fare so well. Their house went with the rest and were out in the wreckage nearly all night. The L O F (Dr. Cline) lost his wife but after being nearly drowned themselves they saved the three children. As soon as possible the next morning after the waters went down I went out to the south end to see how they fared out there. I had to go through the wreckage of buildings nearly the entire distance (one mile) and when I got there I found everything swept clean. Part of it was still under water.

I could not even find the place where I had been staying. One that did not know would hardly believe that that had been a part of the city twenty-four hours before. I could not help seeing many bodies though I was not desirous of seeing them. I at once gave up the family with whom I stayed as lost which has proved true as their bodies have all been found, but the Clines I had more confidence in in regard to their ability to come out of it. I soon got sick of the sights out there and returned to the office to put things in order as best I could. When I got to the office I found a note from the younger Cline telling me of the safety of all except the Drs. wife. They were all badly bruised from falling and drifting timber and one of the children was very badly hurt and they have some fears as to her recovery.

Mr. Broncasiel, our printer, lives in another part of the town that suffered as badly is still missing and we have given him up as lost. There is not a building in town that is uninjured. Hundreds are busy day and night clearing away the debris and recovering the dead. It is awful. Every few minutes a wagon load of corpses passes by on the street.

The more fortunate are doing all they can to aid the sufferers but it is impossible to care for all. There is not room in the buildings standing to shelter them all and hundreds pass the night on the street. One meets people in all degrees of destitution. People but partially clothed are the rule and one fully clothed is an exception. The City is under military rule and the streets are patrolled by armed guards.

Galveston Island as it lives and works today

They are expected to shoot at once anyone found pilfering. I understand four men have been shot today for robbing the dead. I do not know how true it is for all kind of rumors are afloat and many of them are false. We have neither light, fuel or water. I have gone back to candles. I am now writing by candlelight.

A famine is feared, as nearly all the provisions were ruined by the water which stood from six to fifteen feet in the streets and all communication to the outside is cut off.

For myself, I have no fear. I sleep in the office. I have food to last for some time and have water, and means of getting more when it rains as it frequently does here and besides I have made friends here who will not let me starve. We had warning of the storm and many saved themselves by seeking safety before the storm reached here. We were busy all day Thursday answering telephone calls about it and advising people to prepare for danger. But the storm was more severe than we expected.

Dr. Cline placed confidence in the strength of his house. Many went to his house for safety as it was the strongest built of any in that part of the town, but of the forty odd who took refuge there less than twenty are now living.

I have been very busy since the storm and had little sleep but I intend to make up for sleep tonight. I do not know how or where I can send this but will send it first chance. Do not worry on my account.

Write soon.
Yours truly
John D. Blagden