High Winds in Dixie – Essay by Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
What happened to that courageous woman of New Orleans?
Do you remember the woman who was interviewed as Hurricane Katrina
was closing in? She patiently waited, at the New Orleans Superdome,
needing shelter from the coming storm. On her mind was not her
safety, as she had the means to leave town, but instead she wanted
to stay with her family. She said, "It is now in God's Hands." I hope
she and her family are well.
The historic state of Mississippi was hard hit.
With sad hearts we hear about the victims who died in Louisiana and
those who lost their homes in Mississippi. A U.S. senator lost his
150 year old home. There is another 150 year old home "Beauvoir",
the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which was
also damaged. Mississippian's say they would rebuild. I think
"The South would rise again!"
Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, is called by some people as
the worse disaster in United States history. There was another
hurricane, before the naming of hurricanes, that was for the record books and for
105 years it remained the worse natural disaster ever to hit it U.S.
Words were hard to find to describe the tragedy of Galveston, Texas.
Have you ever heard the story of that fateful day in Galveston,
Texas? A category 4 hurricane hit that peaceful Texas gulf town during
September, 1900. The seaport of Galveston was a blessing that helped
the town's economy but some predicted that one day it might also be
Since 1867, the Catholic Church has been a positive influence.
An historical marker was placed on the beach where once stood Saint
Mary's Orphanage Asylum. This was placed in remembrance of 10
Sisters and 90 orphan children who died in that storm. The death
toll from the hurricane, with no name, would rise to over 8,000 men,
women and children.
The population of Galveston, Texas was about 36, 000. One sixth of the
people would perish in the storm.
There were no TV, radio, Satellites or Doppler radar in 1900. There
was, however, the "United States Weather Bureau." The USWB sent an urgent
message on Friday, September 7, 1900, calling the people of Galveston
to evacuate toward higher ground. This message was, however, mostly
ignored and some vacationers still continued to swim in the gulf waters.
The heavy rains came on Saturday.
It has been written that Sister Elizabeth Ryan, one of the 10 Sisters
at Saint Mary's, went into town for food supplies on Saturday, September
8, 1900. Mother Gabriel, of Saint Mary's Infirmary, pleaded with her to
stay until the storm passed. She told her that the children had to have
Time ran out for the people of Galveston.
By 6:00PM that evening of September 8, the winds began to gust
to near 130 miles an hour and the sea waters surged to near 15
feet. It is written that the winds may have reached as high as 150
miles an hour.
No home was standing.
It was estimated that nearly 15,000 homes were destroyed. Those
who ventured outdoors risked death by the flying debris.
The Sisters were brave.
One of the three children of the orphanage, who survived, told of how
the children were afraid but the Sisters were brave. Even with death
knocking at the door the Sisters led the children in songs that
included, "Queen of the Waves."
There was a centennial memorial on September 8, 2000, on the
spot of Galveston, Texas that was Saint Mary's Orphanage. Also,
since that fateful day, the Sisters of Charity have remembered
those who died.
Clara Barton goes to Texas.
The American Red Cross was only 19 years old in 1900. Galveston,
Texas was the last disaster mission of Clara Barton who was the
founder and president of the Red Cross. She and the Red Cross
helped in opening a dormitory for victims of the storm. The Red Cross
also helped with lumber to rebuild the homes. The New York World
newspaper, who shared a building with the Red Cross, gave Barton
all donations they received to also help disaster victims.
God Bless those people who help the victims of Katrina. May God
also help those who lost their homes. I think someone was asked if
they thought Louisiana and Mississippi would regain its greatness.
The answer I heard was, "You Ain't Just Whistling Dixie.!"
A native of Georgia, Calvin Johnson lives near the historic town of Kennesaw, home
of the locomotive "The General" from the War Between the States. His email is: email@example.com.
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