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Remembering The 1900 Storm ...

Dear Reader,

The hurricane of September 8, 1900, which killed 6,000 Galvestonians, remains the worst natural disaster in United States history. The storm and the subsequent recovery of the city and construction of the Galveston Seawall are the defining events in our community's history.

As chairman of the City of Galveston's 1900 Storm Commemoration Committee, I am pleased to report on our plans for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1900 hurricane and the celebration of the subsequent rebirth of our community.

Our broad-based committee began meeting in January 1998 and over the course of several months established a mission statement and four primary goals. The mission of the 1900 Storm Committee is to develop and implement a plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1900 and celebrate the subsequent rebirth of the city through remembrance, education, celebration and reflection.

The first event in the year-long commemoration of the 1900 Storm was a luncheon on September 8, 1999, featuring author Erik Larson, whose book "Isaac's Storm" is on the New York Times Bestseller List. Larson spoke to a crowd of more than 250 people, some of whom were descendents of storm survivors and of storm victims. The book tells the story of Isaac Cline, the chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Galveston during the time of the hurricane.

The first goal of the 1900 Storm Committee was to produce a commemorative event, or series of events, that remember the storm and its survivors and victims and celebrate the city's rebirth. Dancie Ware is chairing that committee.

September 8, 2000, will be the focus of events with nationally prominent dignitaries participating in the city's commemoration and celebration. Alice Wygant and Henry Boening chair the second subcommittee whose purpose is to educate the public about events of September 8, 1900, and the subsequent rebirth of Galveston following that disaster.

This group has four primary projects which include:

• The production of an educational video on the 1900 Storm and hurricane preparedness in general;

• The production of a 20-page booklet based on the photographic collection of the Galveston County Historical Museum;

• The production of four identical traveling exhibits that will circulate at least in the Galveston/Houston area to be located in publicly accessible venues, such as shopping malls, bank lobbies, and various buildings; and

• The coordination of the calendar of exhibits on the 1900 Storm that will be produced by various entities in the weeks and months leading up to Sept. 8, 2000.

Dolph Tillotson and Linda Macdonald are co-chairs of a third committee whose purpose is to educate current and future generations through the collection of historical information, photographs and artifacts about the storm and the rebuilding of Galveston, and the placement of those items in appropriately accessible public venues.

This committee's plans include:

• The creation of this web site;

• The coordination of a speakers' bureau;

• The solicitation of photographs and artifacts held privately, and the placement of those in appropriate venues; and

• The production of an inventory of resources on the storm. Maureen Patton and Robert Lynch chair the fourth committee whose goal is to create a memorial site for reflection and remembrance that is open to all the Galveston community and visitors to our island.

This committee has selected a piece of art that commemorates the storm and hopes to locate it on the Seawall between 45th and 53rd streets. Finally, Betty Massey, executive director of Galveston Historical Foundation, has provided the staff support for the committee.

Galveston Historical Foundation staff have worked with the 1900 Storm Committee to establish a line of merchandise commemorating the 1900 Hurricane, including special plaques for buildings that survived the storm. Owners of buildings that survived the storm can apply for and then purchase a plaque to designate their buildings as official 1900 Storm Building Survivors.

The application fee is $10 and the plaque is $20. For information about the plaques, call Galveston Historical Foundation at (409) 765-7834 or send email to foundation@galvestonhistory.org.

I am excited about these plans and most appreciative of everyone's diligent work. Now, we need your help. Please send us your ideas concerning our plans for the commemoration.


Michael C. Doherty, Chairman
1900 Storm Commemoration Committee




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Published in conjunction with the City of Galveston 1900 Storm Committee.

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