On the afternoon of September 8, 1900, 200-mile-per-hour winds and fifteen-foot waves slammed into Galveston, the prosperous and growing port city on Texas’s Gulf Coast. By dawn the next day, when the storm had passed, the city that existed just hours before was gone. Shattered, grief-stricken survivors emerged to witness a level of destruction never before seen: 8,000 corpses littered the streets and were buried under the massive wreckage. Rushing water had lifted buildings from their foundations, smashing them into pieces, while intensive winds had upended girders and trestles, driving them through house walls and into sidewalks. In less than twenty-four hours, one storm destroyed a major American metropolis—and awakened a nation to the terrifying power of nature.
The Story of the Century brings this legendary disaster and its aftermath into brilliant focus. No other natural disaster has ever matched the havoc caused by the awesome mix of winds, rains, and flooding that devastated this bustling metropolis and shocked a young, optimistic nation on the cusp of modernity. Exploring the impact of the disaster on a rising nation’s confidence—the pain and trauma of the loss and the determination of the response—Al Roker illuminates both the energy and the limitations of the American Century, and of nature itself.
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