The Isaac Storm

It is saddening to see leftists literally praying for death and destruction to visit the United States, so long as it is aligned with their own prejudices. Here is one of many such supplications I’ve seen:

“Dear God, I promise to believe in you if you will just send Hurricane Isaac to Tampa while the Republicans are there.”

“far out…come on hurricaneeeee wipe out the hall and the lying GOP candidates”

Ah — this article collects some of the supplications and appeals to God and karma and such.  You’ll find a number of references to “Hurricane Isaac” even though it is not yet a hurricane as of this writing.

The state of Florida is a former stomping ground of mine; it was common to have “hurricane parties” where bathtubs were filled with ice (to melt into drinking water) and cans of beer and other drinks to help weather the storm. I once participated in an experiment, in a van with doors tied open like sails, to see how fast we could go in 100 MPH winds.  (We never hit much above 50 with the engine off, but we were also running out of road.)

But of course hurricanes can do lots of damage, from Andrew in 1992 to Katrina in 2005 to the many hurricanes back when they were common in the 1960s, and the earlier cycle in the 1920s.

Hurricane frequency runs in a cycle of a few decades, but some hurricanes form every year.  At the peak of the current cycle back in 2000, there were a couple of years in which no hurricanes made US landfall at all. This apparently encouraged Louisiana and New Orleans officials that it was safe to embezzle tens of millions of dollars of federal funds that were intended for levee reconstruction — a re-routing that had tragic consequences later when the levees collapsed in Katrina’s storm surge, despite that storm’s only Category 2 or so strength at landfall.

Now, twelve years after the peak, Florida has not been hit by a hurricane for seven years. It seems likely that Isaac will break this record, but it’s not clear, as Isaac is likely to still be only a tropical storm when it crosses over the sourthern Florida Keys.  There is a fair chance, though, that it will veer a bit east and come into contact with Florida’s west coast after becoming a hurricane in the next day or two.

And hurricanes can cause horrific death and destruction. One hurricane that is sort of a namesake to this one — it has been called “Isaac’s Storm” long before the idea of naming hurricanes developed — hit Galveston in 1900, one hundred and twelve years ago. It was named after Isaac Monroe Cline, an early hurricane expert who became somewhat notorious (and suffered personal tragedy) due to this hurricane.

The hurricane killed something like 20% of the island city’s residents (about 8,000 people) and knocked the city from fourth-largest in the US to a recovering disaster area, and later a bootlegging resort town during Prohibition. This website is dedicated to that hurricane — and it has an amazing collection of details on the storm and images like this one:

Houses lie together in a mountain of timber at 19th Street.

They did something with Galveston, though, that should have been done with New Orleans: They raised the low island land (including some 500 city blocks!) adding some 17 feet of land and raising the remaining buildings to match.  Individual residents paid to raise their own homes, the ones that were still standing. One church held continuous services while the 3,000-ton building was raised, bit by bit. The island was protected by a raised and reinforced seawall.  Fifteen years later, a similar hurricane struck Galveston — and the death toll was 53 instead of 8,000.

The year 1928 was a bad one for hurricanes, and one hit New Orleans, flooding the city that had not learned from Galveston’s grim experience.  (Three-quarters of a century later, they still had not.) In the same year, the 1928 “Okeechobee Hurricane” also caused massive loss of life, killing 2,500 Floridians (and more than a thousand elsewhere) by flooding.

Hurricane damage comes from the wind to an extent, but a great deal is actually from the flood. The low pressure in the central portion of the hurricane causes the sea to rise — and the lower the pressure, the higher this storm surge.  “Isaac’s Storm” hit when Galveston was only about 9 feet above sea level at its highest point, but brought a storm surge of some 20 feet destroying thousands of structures and stretching a sea of debris for miles.  Most of the Katrina damage in 2005 came from the floods that happened when levees collapsed, allowing the sea into the below-sea-level sections of the city.  The dams around Lake Okeechobee in 1928 similarly failed, flooding hundreds of square miles.

An odd aspect of New Orleans: In 1928, when the city flooded, it had been subdivided into several sections by internal levees. When the first section flooded, the residents decided to dynamite openings into the next section to let the waters drain — somehow having convinced themselves that they could drain the ocean into this new space.  The people in the next section did the same thing, until the entire city and all five sections were flooded.

After the storm, they elected to remove the internal levees, and they have never been rebuilt. So one breach can submerge the entire place, and that remains true to this day.  It is a very good thing that hurricanes and tornadoes have been declining in recent years, but those are cycles, and they will rise again. It is my sincere hope that the global warming religion will have died out by that time. Until then, we will have to endure every weather event being portrayed as “extreme” and “unprecedented,” and the breaking of “adjusted” temperature records. And we will endure, no doubt, an absence of the practical planning that will really address the issues at hand, as they did in Galveston.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle