The 1900 hurricane was the deadliest natural disaster in American history. For months following the storm, they had to deal with the death and destruction. At first they took bodies out into the gulf and dumped them overboard, but when they floated back onto the beach they built funeral pyres to cremate the 8,000 or so people who had died. The 15.7 foot storm surge exceeded the 1875 hurricane by six feet and every building in Galveston was washed away, destroyed, or heavily damaged in the storm. Construction of a revetment, or seawall had been proposed several times over the years, usually following hurricanes, but the promoters could never amass enough political will to get it done. Finally, after the loss of 8,000 souls, the citizens of Galveston got serious about protecting the island.
It was a two-step process. First a seawall would be constructed and then the land behind it would be raised. It sounds easy when you say it fast, but the project would require engineering feats which had never before been accomplished. General Henry Robert retired from the Army Corps of Engineers in 1901 and was put in charge of a group of engineers to design the project. His name may not sound familiar, but if you have ever used Robert’s Rules of Order to conduct meetings, you have him to thank for it. The wall was to extend almost a foot and a half above the highest point reached by the 1900 hurricane. The plans were completed and accepted in January 1902. A huge campaign was mounted with an eye on gaining support for the project. The Galveston Brewing Company even created “Seawall Bond” beer as a promotion for gaining support for the bond election. The president of the company was Bertrand Adoue. If the name sounds familiar, Adoue was also a partner in Galveston’s Adoue-Lobit Bank and had purchased a park called Sylvan Grove in 1896 which he developed