DR. ISAAC M.
UNITED STATES WEATHER
In the September 8, 1900 Hurricane in
over 6,000 people died. It is
still our country's deadliest natural disaster.
In the 1900 federal census,
Galveston had a population of over 37,000 people. The town was growing
and people were prosperous. Galveston is an island off the Texas coast.
Dr. Isaac Cline was the head of the weather bureau at that time.
Isaac M. Cline and his brother Joseph L.
were sons of Jacob Leander Cline and Mary Isbell Wilson Cline of Monroe Co.
Jacob 3/16/1833-7/9/1915 and Mary 2/19/1843-3/3/1920 are buried in Rockville/Glenlock
Cemetery here in Monroe Co. Tn. They were married here 12/18/1860. You can
find them listed in the 1870 and 1880 Monroe census as
well as others. Isaac M. was born ca 1861, his brother Joseph L. ca
My interest in this started when I
watched a two hour documentary "Isaac's Storm" on the History
Channel. The book "Isaac's Storm" was written by Erik Larson in
Isaac has been known as a hero in Galveston, thought to have saved many lives.
Erik Larson's research tells a different story:
Isaac took an interest in weather as a
boy in Monroe Co. He later went to Hiwassee College in this county.
He was a scientist and
his decisions strictly on scientific evidence. The weather bureau knew
of the storm that was developing, but based on what information they had, they
weren't concerned. What they failed to learn was that it built strength
in the Gulf and by the time it hit Galveston, it was a full-blown hurricane
with 150 mile winds. It was a category 4 hurricane. Isaac's brother
Joseph had a premonition that it would be horrific, but Isaac told him he was
the scientist and would make the decisions. They waited too late to put
up the hurricane flag. In fact, some time before this happened, Issac
had written an article for the paper and stated that Galveston would never be in danger of a
Galveston was only 8 feet above sea
level, and the only connection with the mainland were railroad bridges.
The documentary describes the devastation of the town. An orphanage
built near the beach housed 93 children and 10 nuns. The nuns tied 6 to 7
children with rope to each nun. Only three of those children survived.
The island was completely cut off from the world and there was no way to get
word out for help. The bodies were buried under timbers or piled high.
They decided to take the bodies out and dump them in the Gulf only to have
them swept ashore days later. They spent weeks piling and burning them.
Isaac lost his pregnant wife in this
horrible hurricane. In his report to Washington, Isaac, perhaps to save
his reputation and career, told how he rode his horse along the beach to warn
the people of the storm. The Washington Weather Bureau held him as a
hero and they too, told how they sent out warnings. What they failed to
relate was that the word 'hurricane' was never mentioned in those warnings.
In 1904, a seawall 8 miles in length was
built. They brought in tons of sand and raised the city 13 feet. A hurricane in 1915
of equal size had only a few casualties.
Isaac was transferred to New Orleans and
his brother Joseph was transferred to Puerto Rico. Joseph never forgave
Isaac for the way he handled the storm. Isaac retired in 1935 and died
in 1955 at the age of 94, he never remarried.
There were two articles in "The
Sweetwater Telephone". One dealt with the early events after the storm.
The other was the story of how Isaac and his family survived the storm.
There is an obituary for Isaac Cline and a biography of Joseph L. Cline in the
"Madisonville Democrat". Click on the text files below to read
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