Grand Bahama this morning (September 4) looks a lot like Galveston did on September 9, 1900. – On September 8 of that year, the deadliest hurricane in American history slammed into Galveston Island with winds in excess of 140 mph – which would make it a Category 4 hurricane – and a storm surge that inundated the entire island.
Captains and sailors from ships coming into port had been warning islanders for days in advance of a large storm lurking in the Gulf, and a prominent local weather man, Isaac Cline, also tried to warn locals that a big storm was coming. But government officials assured residents that a major hit on the island was virtually impossible due to the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico and other factors, and predicted that any storm in the Gulf of Mexico would be most likely to make landfall in Florida. Thus, few people evacuated Galveston in advance of the storm, and, without air travel or gasoline powered automobiles, evacuation for most residents would have been difficult if not impossible in any event.
Thus it was that more than 8,000 Galvestonians died in the resultant inundation. Cline himself lived in a two-story home near the downtown area, and was only able to survive the rising flood waters by climbing onto the roof of his house along with his family. The destruction of all but the sturdiest of buildings on the island, like the famous Moody Mansion and many of the downtown business establishments, was utter and complete.
For many months afterwards, the refuse and debris from those buildings that had been carried out to sea was washed back up onto the island’s shores, along with the rotting carcasses of human beings, farm animals and pets who had perished in the storm. The cleanup operations were grim and seemingly unending; the stench was horrible and reportedly lingered for years afterwards.
The story we see coming out of Grand Bahama this morning is similar and tragic. The island was largely inundated by the storm surge, and thousands of houses and non-sturdy buildings have been destroyed. The refuse and debris from those buildings that was carried out to sea will wash back up onto shore in the months to come.
But that debris and refuse will not be accompanied by the rotting bodies of thousands of dead human beings. Many of the island’s pets and other animals were also taken to safety and even evacuated off the island, thanks to volunteer animal rescue operations. That happy result is largely due to modern means of predicting the path these storms will take days in advance. But it is also due to the existence of modern means of travel that allowed so many of the residents there to evacuate the island.
Virtually all of those means of travel, whether by boat, by plane or by automobile in the case of mainland U.S. residents in several states who are evacuating their own homes in advance of the storm’s path, are powered by gasoline or diesel fuel. Almost 100% of them. Even the growing number of electric vehicles on the roads now obtain their charge from power stations whose electricity is generated by a U.S. energy grid that is more than 80% powered by fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas and coal.
These modern, fossil-fueled means of transportation are why, when the ultimate death toll from this very strong hurricane is totaled up, the number most likely will consist of two digits instead of four or five.
So, when you see craven Democrat/Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders issue a tweet like this:
The fossil fuel industry is now the equivalent of the tobacco industry. It creates death and destruction, then spends billions denying its responsibility. Let us be clear: Hurricane Dorian has everything to do with climate change, which is the existential crisis of our time.
…remember that the deadliest hurricane in American history occurred in 1900, when Americans were traveling using horses and buggies, a full century before the term “climate change” came into popular use.
Next time you run into someone who works in America’s oil and gas industry, thank them for producing the fuels that help save so many human lives in advance of these terrible storms. I guarantee you they will appreciate the gesture.