Hurricane Katrina may well have been the costliest hurricane on record in the United States, but the Galveston hurricane of 1900 was the deadliest. Coming ashore Sept. 9 of 1900 with 145 mph winds, the storm would be rated Category 4 (out of five) by today’s standards. At the time, Galveston Island had a population of around 40,000 people which made it the fourth most populous, and also the wealthiest, city in the State of Texas.
Unfortunately, the 15-foot storm surge submerged the entire island, really just a coastal sand bar, to a depth of 6-15 feet. The surf pounded houses to pieces and many people were drowned. Virtually every structure on the island was destroyed except for a few solidly built stone mansions. The final death count is estimated to have been 6,000-10,000. After the storm, The City of Galveston built a concrete reinforced sea wall which continues to offer at least some protection for this vulnerable location.