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4 Local Warehouse Americana- Texas

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

by

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History Cover

 

 

Excerpt

TELEGRAM

Washington, D.C.

Sept. 9, 1900

To: Manager, Western Union

Houston, Texas

Do you hear anything about Galveston?

        

Willis L. Moore,

        

Chief, U.S. Weather Bureau

The Beach

September 8, 1900

Throughout the night of Friday, September 7, 1900, Isaac Monroe Cline found himself waking to a persistent sense of something gone wrong. It was the kind of feeling parents often experienced and one that no doubt had come to him when each of his three daughters was a baby. Each would cry, of course, and often for astounding lengths of time, tearing a seam not just through the Cline house but also, in that day of open windows and unlocked doors, through the dew-sequined peace of his entire neighborhood. On some nights, however, the children cried only long enough to wake him, and he would lie there heart-struck, wondering what had brought him back to the world at such an unaccustomed hour. Tonight that feeling returned.

        

Most other nights, Isaac slept soundly. He was a creature of the last turning of the centuries when sleep seemed to come more easily. Things were clear to him. He was loyal, a believer in dignity, honor, and effort. He taught Sunday school. He paid cash, a fact noted in a directory published by the Giles Mercantile Agency and meant to be held in strictest confidence. The small red book fit into a vest pocket and listed nearly all Galveston's established citizens--its police officers, bankers, waiters, clerics, tobacconists, undertakers, tycoons, and shipping agents--and rated them for credit-worthiness, basing this appraisal on secret reports filed anonymously by friends and enemies. An asterisk beside a name meant trouble, "Inquire at Office," and marred the fiscal reputations of such people as Joe Amando, tamale vendor; Noah Allen, attorney; Ida Cherry, widow; and August Rollfing, housepainter. Isaac Cline got the highest rating, a "B," for "Pays Well, Worthy of Credit." In November of 1893, two years after Isaac arrived in Galveston to open the Texas Section of the new U.S. Weather Bureau, a government inspector wrote: "I suppose there is not a man in the Service on Station Duty who does more real work than he. . . . He takes a remarkable degree of interest in his work, and has a great pride in making his station one of the best and most important in the country, as it is now."

        

Upon first meeting Isaac, men found him to be modest and self-effacing, but those who came to know him well saw a hardness and confidence that verged on conceit. A New Orleans photographer captured this aspect in a photograph that is so good, with so much attention to the geometries of composition and light, it could be a portrait in oil. The background is black; Isaac's suit is black. His shirt is the color of bleached bone. He has a mustache and goatee and wears a straw hat, not the rigid cake-plate variety, but one with a sweeping scimitar brim that imparts to him the look of a French painter or riverboat gambler. A darkness suffuses the photograph. The brim shadows the top of his face. His eyes gleam from the darkness. Most striking is the careful positioning of his hands. His right rests in his lap, gripping what could be a pair of gloves. His left is positioned in midair so that the diamond on his pinkie sparks with the intensity of a star.

        

There is a secret embedded in this photograph. For now, however, suffice it to say the portrait suggests vanity, that Isaac was aware of himself and how he moved through the day, and saw himself as something bigger than a mere recorder of rainfall and temperature. He was a scientist, not some farmer who gauged the weather by aches in a rheumatoid knee. Isaac personally had encountered and explained some of the strangest atmospheric phenomena a weatherman could ever hope to experience, but also had read the works of the most celebrated meteorologists and physical geographers of the nineteenth century, men like Henry Piddington, Matthew Fontaine Maury, William Redfield, and James Espy, and he had followed their celebrated hunt for the Law of Storms. He believed deeply that he understood it all.

        

He lived in a big time, astride the changing centuries. The frontier was still a living, vivid thing, with Buffalo Bill Cody touring his Wild West Show to sellout crowds around the globe, Bat Masterson a sportswriter in New Jersey, and Frank James opening the family ranch for tours at fifty cents a head. But a new America was emerging, one with big and global aspirations. Teddy Roosevelt, flanked by his Rough Riders, campaigned for the vice presidency. U.S. warships steamed to quell the Boxers. There was fabulous talk of a great American-built canal that would link the Atlantic to the Pacific, a task at which Vicomte de Lesseps and the French had so catastrophically failed. The nation in 1900 was swollen with pride and technological confidence. It was a time, wrote Sen. Chauncey Depew, one of the most prominent politicians of the age, when the average American felt "four-hundred-percent bigger" than the year before.

        

There was talk even of controlling the weather--of subduing hail with cannon blasts and igniting forest fires to bring rain.

        

In this new age, nature itself seemed no great obstacle.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780609602331
Other:
Larson, Erik
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Author:
Larson, Erik
Author:
Miles, Kathryn
Location:
New York :
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
United States - State & Local
Subject:
Natural Disasters
Subject:
Disasters
Subject:
Galveston (tex.)
Subject:
Hurricanes
Subject:
Floods
Subject:
Galveston (Tex.) Biography.
Subject:
Floods -- Texas -- Galveston -- History -- 20th century.
Subject:
Galveston
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
United States - State & Local - South
Subject:
United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)
Subject:
Galveston (Tex.) History 20th century.
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Abridged:
Abridged Edition
Publication Date:
19990831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 MAPS
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9.28x6.37x1.08 in. 1.30 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » Americana » Texas
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History Used Hardcover
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Product details 368 pages Little Brown and Company - English 9780609602331 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
The first complete moment-by-moment account of the largest Atlantic storm system ever recordedand#151;a hurricane like no other

The sky was lit by a full moon on October 29, 2012, but nobody on the eastern seaboard of the United States could see it. Everything had been consumed by cloud. The stormand#8217;s immensity caught the attention of scientists on the International Space Station. Even from there, it seemed almost limitless: 1.8 million square feet of tightly coiled bands so huge they filled the windows of the Station. It was the largest storm anyone had ever seen.

Initially a tropical storm, Sandy had grown into a hybrid monster. It charged across open ocean, picking up strength with every step, baffling meteorologists and scientists, officials and emergency managers, even the traditional maritime wisdom of sailors and seamen: What exactly was this thing? By the time anyone decided, it was too late.

And then the storm made landfall.

Sandy was not just enormous, it was also unprecedented. As a result, the entire nation was left flat-footed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration couldnand#8217;t issue reliable warnings; the Coast Guard didnand#8217;t know what to do. In Superstorm, journalist Kathryn Miles takes readers inside the maelstrom, detailing the stories of dedicated professionals at the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service. The characters include a forecaster who risked his job to sound the alarm in New Jersey, the crew of the ill-fated tall ship Bounty, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Christie, and countless coastal residents whose homesand#151;and livesand#151;were torn apart and then left to wonder . . . When is the next superstorm coming?

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