Tonight (Feb. 20), I’m launching my book tour in support of Print the Legend in Houston, Texas, at Murder by the Book (5 p.m., Central Time).
I was happy this bookstore launched the tour because it shoulders up to Galveston, Texas, the place where my ongoing character, crime novelist Hector Lassiter, was purportedly born at midnight on Jan. 1, 1900…coming in with the 20th Century, as it were.
When we left Ohio early Friday morning, we left behind what is shaping up to be the all-time record amount of recorded snowfall in a February for the Buckeye State. It’s not particularly warm in Galveston, but there’s no snow in sight and the gulls are pretty noisy on the roof above the hotel room’s balcony. The water is slamming against the seawall and breakers, and occasionally you see actual rays of sunlight…all qualities currently lacking back in Ohio.
That’s not to say that Galveston doesn’t get its share of nasty weather.
The second Hector Lassiter novel, Toros & Torsos, opens with a killer hurricane that swept through the middle Florida Keys during Labor Day weekend, killing a still-unknown number of people and essentially scouring a couple of islands down to their coral beds under a monster storm surge at a time before such storms were named or consistently rated for intensity.
That storm wouldn’t have been Hector’s only brush with a monster Gulf Coast hurricane.
Galveston suffered its own killer hurricane in what would have been Hector Lassiter’s birth year. It was another September storm season in the Gulf. The hurricane that struck Galveston on Sept. 8 is believed to have been the equivalent of Category 4 hurricane by present measurement standards.
Winds reached at least 150 mph and the storm surge may have reached 18 feet.
According to local records, approximately 3,600 homes and buildings were destroyed: that was something like two-thirds of Galveston’s building stock.
By current economic standards, damage done to Galveston in 1900 would represent as much as a billion dollar hit.
Two years after the storm struck Galveston, the construction of a massive sea wall began. That structure was expanded over subsequent years. The seawall stands 17 feet high. Sand was also pumped under an estimated 2,100 other structures in the city to raise them several feet above their pre-existing heights…a feat that sounds on a par with the construction of the pyramids.
And because you have to, Glen Campbell's cover of the Vietnam-era classic, "Galveston":