Pictured above: A postcard of what Galveston has always and will always need: A sea wall. Postcard is in the public domain.
Part VI of Isaac’s Storm comprises only one chapter, which examines the fate of many of the characters involved with the story.
- The storm continues across the United States, causing death and destruction, but not as much as it did in Galveston.
- Galveston counts at least 6,000 dead, and another 2,000 leave the city permanently. Those who remain rebuild, this time including a sea wall and sturdier buildings. As the Spindletop well begins an oil boom, more people and businesses move to Houston. Galveston does not become the city it could have been.
- Joseph Cline struggles with what he believes is poor health, and he is reassigned multiple times within the Weather Bureau. He eventually takes charge of a bureau office in New Orleans. His account of the hurricane barely mentions Isaac.
- Willis Moore continues to make poor weather predictions. He plays politics in the bureau, and eventually pays for it. He asks Isaac to destroy evidence against him, but Isaac doesn’t do it. Moore is fired from the department.
- Isaac Cline is reassigned to New Orleans. His rivalry with his brother, made worse by the events of September 8, 1900, escalates to the point where the men do not talk again. Isaac spends the rest of his life studying hurricanes, trying to understand what happened at Galveston. He seems to believe that “nothing more could have been done than was done.” He is celebrated across the nation as a hero. He later becomes an art collector. He dies in 1955.
The chapter ends with a short discussion of hurricanes that later hit Galveston, despite Moore’s assurances that the 1900 hurricane was a “once in a thousand years” event. Storms continue to hit the island today.
- Write a paragraph about your final assessment of Isaac Cline. How responsible is he for the events of September 8, 1900? Should he have been held legally responsible? Do his actions after the storm reflect those of an honest man, or do you believe he is covering things up? Has he learned his lesson?