September 8, 2017
Considered the “Ellis Island of the West,” as well as the “Wall Street of the Southwest”, Galveston, Texas enjoyed tremendous prosperity at the turn of the 20th century. A booming town of 38,000 people, the 29-mile island seemed indestructible. An 1875 hurricane that nearly destroyed neighboring Indianola, Texas, caused citizens concern. However, a proposed sea wall was dismissed by the majority of the residents and the city’s government. Isaac Cline, the Galveston Weather Bureau section director, wrote in an 1891 Galveston Daily News article that a seawall was not only not needed, but no significant storm could ever reach the island.
Residents woke to a beautiful blue sky the morning of September 8, 1900. Most ignored the warning flags raised by the Weather Bureau, assuming any storm would be nothing more than what they had weathered many times before. However, by mid-morning, rising waters had washed out the bridge to the mainland and a storm surge covered a train in Port Bolivar trying to ferry to the island, killing all 85 on board.
At the time, the highest point on the island was just under 9 feet. Since the storm surges were upwards of 15 feet, they washed across the island with ease. Homes were effortlessly knocked off their foundations before being reduced to kindling, often with people still inside. Those homes that held together were carried down the street and dumped blocks away.
As the storm moved north into the mainland, causing damage and destruction as far as New York and Canada, Galveston began their cleanup. The dead bodies were so numerous they were unable to bury them all. Instead, they placed the weighted-down bodies on barges and then dumped them into the Gulf of Mexico.
It wasn’t long until the bodies began washing ashore on the Galveston beach. Still too numerous to bury, it was decided to burn them. Survivors assembled funeral pyres on the beaches, or wherever the bodies were recovered, and began cremating them. The fires continued for weeks, burning continuously throughout the day and night.
Galveston received another blow as investors and developers turned their attention northward to Houston. Not only was the oil boom beginning, the Houston Ship Channel was dredged in 1909 and 1914, allowing it to overtake Galveston’s position as a major commercial shipping center.
When all was over, an estimated 8,000 people, approximately a fifth of the population, perished in the storm. However, many of the deaths occurred while waiting to be rescued. The vast majority of the survivors were left homeless, setting up tents or makeshift shelters on the beaches while they began the hard and long task of cleaning up and rebuilding. Those buildings that remained standing or were salvageable, were raised up to 17 feet, with sand brought in to fill the empty space. The entire island was eventually raised and a 17-foot sea wall was built along the coast. When a storm of similar strength hit Galveston in 1915, their improvements dramatically reduced the effects of the 12-foot storm surges, with only 53 people losing their lives.
Over the years, other cities across the country in harms way have made similar improvements to reduce the impacts of such crushing storms. Considering how much more populated the Houston area is now than it was 100 years ago, it is remarkable Hurricane Harvey has only seen 63 deaths to date from the storm. Likewise, the more homes, buildings and concreted land naturally lead to increased damage and wreckage in the wake of such storms, however, that is the risk one takes when living so close to the coast.
Still, there is a rainbow to be found. The immediate reaction of Texans and neighboring states to those affected by the storm was heartwarming. Tens of thousands were rescued by citizens and local first responders, who put their own lives on hold, and into harms way, to go help. Using their own boats, people rushed to the area with the mindset of, “I’m gonna go try to save some lives,” as one rescuer put it. Even people whose own homes were going under water, left their place to go save others.
Liberty, God is giving us another chance. Winston Churchill once said, "Americans will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other possibilities.” We are being given another opportunity to decide what is really important, and what the right thing actually is.
Two weeks ago, Antifa gained attention with their violent attacks on anarchists in the white supremacy movement. They began illegally desecrating and removing historical statues with the blessing of the media and the left. (see ) As tragic as it is, Hurricane Harvey helped knock many of us back into reality, giving us a clear choice between good or evil.
We have become so self-centered, unable to pull our little faces out of our smart phones for even just a moment. Our lives have revolved around Washington D.C. for way too long, tweeting insults and cussing out anyone who dares disagree with us from the comfort and safety of our homes. Convincing ourselves we are superior, anyone with a different opinion became our enemy and therefore deserves to be destroyed. Others have placed us in categories, encouraging and inciting us to hate the other groups, purposely conspiring to keep us from listening to other points of view. However, Hurricane Harvey forced us to lift up our heads and reach out our hands to others. And guess what, we found out they were human too. More importantly, their race, religion, or political views never entered our minds as we did whatever we could to help.
Unfortunately, the country is quickly returning to their lives and infighting. However, while Texas is still trying to clean up, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on south Florida, threatening to make landfall in the next few days. People are evacuating as quickly as possible and rescue workers are already on their way from Texas to assist there once the storm is over. Fires rage through California as a major drought threatens farmers in the mid-west. Beyond America’s borders, last spring Montreal, Quebec, suffered from major flooding as Vietnam contends with flash floods now. Mexico just experienced an 8.1 earthquake, triggering tsunami waves off its southern coast. And let’s not forget North Korea is continuing to threaten America with a hydrogen-bomb attack, setting the stage for full-blown war.
Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matt 24:4-8
Many are trying to take advantage of these events to push forth their Global Warming agenda. (see and ) While we are experiencing an active hurricane season this year, the seas have been fairly calm the last decade, dispelling the notion that these storms are increasing in occurrences. Likewise, Galveston's hurricane, one of the most violent storms recorded and still ranked as the deadliest, occurred before the oil and auto industry even really started, dismissing the argument that increased CO2 emissions are the cause of these storms.
Others are proclaiming that they prove only the government has the ability to handle such disasters and we should relinquish all power to them. Days after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, otherwise known as Superstorm Sandy, one victim told reporters, “If FEMA doesn't get here soon, then we’re just going to start cleaning things up ourselves!” Even though most of Middle America found this comical, a portion of the population believes nothing can be done without government oversight, contending it is the modern-day Messiah.
Texans reminded us that we can’t, nor should we, rely on the government to rescue us. Their help is appreciated, but Christ told us to cloth and feed and shelter others. He told us to look after the sick and visit those imprisoned. As odd as it sounds, Hurricane Harvey gave Americans the opportunity to be the America we’ve been in the past: generous, unselfish, loving, neighborly, compassionate, and supportive.
Millions of dollars have been donated by ordinary citizens to groups and organizations completely unassociated with the government, instead often linked to a church. Food, water and other supplies have been collected to transport to the affected areas, both in Texas and soon Florida. Survivors bowed their heads in thanksgiving that they still have their families, while Americans across the country pray for their comfort and peace. Many also have taken pause to realize just how lucky we really are and how ridiculous society has become in its priorities. As a result, hundreds of thousands gave up their time to go help clean up.
Liberty, it is no surprise that at times like these, Christians often tell God, “Ok, we’re ready for you to come now because we can’t take it anymore.” While this seems like they are giving up, the belief that Christ will return one day and restore the Universe to perfection is actually extremely comforting. Non-believers roll their eyes at Christians, convinced we have ignorantly placed all our faith in a mythological being while placing all their trust in themselves and people in government they know lie to them. However, putting earthly things aside and relying on our Heavenly Father to protect us is exactly where God wants us to be. Unfortunately, sometimes we need reminders to do that.
When General George Washington was losing the Revolutionary War, he turned to God on bended knee. Likewise, when President Abraham Lincoln feared America was on the verge of splitting permanently, he bowed before his Bible in prayer. (see and ) In both cases, God listened. Our times are not so different now. We have the life vest to weather the storm. We can only pray more and more people put it on.
That’s my 2 cents.
WEATHERING THE STORM