Something Wicked This Way Comes
August 28, 2012
His name is Isaac.
He is a hurricane, birthed amidst the sound and fury of a tropical storm, barreling across the cold, tempestuous waters of the Atlantic Ocean, a mass of wind, a funnel of rain, making its way toward land and deadly to anything that dares stand in its path.
Isaac threatened the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. He closed it down for a day. A left-leaning spokesman on a Chicago radio station said the wrath of Isaac proved that God did not like the Republicans.
God, in his infinite wisdom, apparently decided to stay neutral, as usual, and Isaac slipped quietly on past, choosing instead to wash out a band of Romney protesters camped the edge of the city. I don’t think God had anything to do with that either.
Isaac has turned westward.
Isaac is seeking out New Orleans the way Katrina sought out New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The Republican governor of Louisiana has said he has no plans to attend the GOP convention in Tampa.
He has work to do. He has to be ready if Isaac turns recklessly toward the Louisiana coast. Isaac may wash away at sea. Isaac may strike with the ferocity of a killer.
No one knows. No one ever knows.
We in Texas will never forget the hurricane that stormed ashore at the beaches of Galveston in 1900. We obviously weren’t there to see it, but the history of that terrible moment is forever etched in our psyche. As one writer said, it was “a tempest so terrible that no words can adequately describe the intensity.”
One man knew the storm was coming.
One man knew how lethal it could be.
He was a meteorologist with the Galveston Weather Bureau, and on the morning of that fateful day, he noticed the fingers of the gulf tides clawing their way across the tips of the island. The storm swells were rising. The barometer was dropping. The winds were growing stronger by the moment.
He frantically walked and rode down the streets and along the beach, urging people to retreat to higher ground. Unfortunately, in Galveston, there was no higher ground. The city lay less than nine feet above sea level. He warned people to leave the isle. He begged them to leave. But those who heard ignored him.
Galveston had long been a survivor. It was the largest city in Texas and one of the wealthiest cities per capita in the United States. Galveston residents thought their town was too important to be damaged by a mere storm, and they were, without doubt, too powerful to run.
The hurricane struck just after sunrise. It had a name. Its name was death.
The meteorologist would write: “The battle for our lives against the elements and the terrific hurricane winds and storm-tossed wreckage, lasted from 8 a.m. until near midnight. This struggle to live continued through one of the darkest of nights with only an occasional flash of lightning which revealed the terrible carnage about us.”
It was indeed a time to flee. But the bridges were down, and Galveston was cut off from civilization, nothing more than a glorified sandbar beneath fifteen feet of surging water. The streets were empty. No people. No animals. No trees. The meteorologist could see nothing more than a wall of broken houses pushing its way across the length and breadth of the isle All of Galveston lay in ruins. Thirty-six hundred homes were destroyed. Somewhere between six thousand and twelve thousand lives were lost. No one will ever know for sure. The hurricane came, and the sea claimed them all.
A meteorologist had tried to save them. But no one would listen. His words had been thrown aside by the winds.
So now another hurricane is on its way. Its target is the Gulf Coast. And the coast waits as a condemned man awaits his executioner.
The hurricane has a name.
His name is Isaac.
I can never forget the meteorologist who tried so hard to save Galveston.
So many did not.
His name was Isaac.