Hurricane and Isaac’s Storm

It was an eerie coincidence that as Hurricane Katrina raged across the south, the next book in my review pile was Hurricane by Janice Thompson. The novel tells the story of the historic hurricane of 1900 that almost wiped Galveston, Texas off the map.
Based on fact, Thompson has created characters to tell the story of what happened before, during and after the devastating storm. For example, Sister Henrietta of St. Mary’s Orphanage is a made up character, but there was a real St. Mary’s Orphanage and it was destroyed in the hurricane, along with many of the children. Through newspaperman Brent Murphy, Thompson shows how the public was kept informed in the storm’s aftermath and how Clara Barton and the Red Cross came to Galveston’s aid. Nurse Emma Phillips allows us to see the human suffering as she works tirelessly at John Sealy Hospital. The romance that develops between Murphy and Phillips points to the hope that life goes on after a disaster of that magnitude.
The novel was more interesting to me because a few years ago I happened upon the book, Isaac’s Storm, by Erik Larson. The book is a fantastic true account of the same 1900 Galveston hurricane, focusing on Isaac Cline, chief meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau in Galveston when the storm struck. Larson tells the gripping story of what can happen when man ignores the warning signs of impending disaster, convinced that the worst could never happen, and then explains what happens when it does. Isaac’s Storm is an excellent, very readable nonfiction account of the hurricane of1900, and a good companion to Thompson’s novel.
Despite the fact that we’ve seen round the clock coverage of Hurricane Katrina, I recommend both books. They put a personal face on the deadliest hurricane in American history, and that story is very relevant right now.
Buy Hurricane by Janice Thompson
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