Volatile weather events continue to dominate the news and decimate cities across America. But perhaps they all pale in comparison to one such event which took place in the year 1900. A hurricane smashed across the hugely popular city of Galveston, Texas, and it took the lives of over 8000 residents. America's Deadliest Disaster recounts the horrific impact of this monstrous storm.
At that time, the island city of Galveston was the crown jewel of Texas, attracting the state's wealthiest with opportunity and an unparalleled standard of living. In early September of that year, however, the city's promise and prosperity would suffer a major blow in the form of a Category 4 hurricane. In a matter of hours, it would cement its place as the deadliest natural disaster in recorded history.
Prior to hitting land, super-heated water provided the storm with an unusual level of accelerated intensity. Antiquated weather detection and warning systems proved inadequate in their predictions and ineffective in preparing the population for what was to come.
The film relies on local tourism guides, regional historians, area residents, crisis preparedness experts, and meteorologists to fill in its narrative. Reenactments are used tastefully, and enhance the sensations of fear and devastation that gripped the city. The personal stories fascinate throughout – the ship crew that struggled in the midst of the storm prior to its landfall, the elite power-brokers who dined at an elegant restaurant as the storm began to drown streets in several feet of water, the city officials who were impotent in their attempts to save lives, and the residents who perished in watery graves.
The hurricane produced effects that had never been witnessed before. Storm surge submerged the entire city completely underwater, flying debris became weapons of mass death, and houses that were thought to be indestructible crumbled with ease. As the storm passed, the lucky survivors emerged to the stench of death and a flattened cityscape of rubble they no longer recognized. Once a shining city, Galveston now resembled a rustic settlement from Medieval times.
America's Deadliest Disaster is a visceral account of one of Mother Nature's most ominous episodes.