In 1900, Galveston was the state's premier city, with 36,000 residents. But it was precariously built on a narrow island of sand just a few feet above sea level. On September 8, 1900, a hurricane sent an 8-foot-high wave crashing into the city. Six thousand died in the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Soon after, the city put retired Army engineer Henry Robert to work designing a sea wall, 7 miles long and 17 feet high, to protect the island. He also raised the entire city, by pumping sand underneath the buildings. The project took 7 years to complete and was tested by another hurricane in 1915. That time, all but 8 people survived.
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Fun Fact:Henry Martyn Robert (1837-1923) is best known as the author of a book on parliamentary law, which was popularized in its revised 1915 edition as Robert's Rules of Order. What many people don't know is that Robert was a military engineer and, during the Civil War, worked on the defense of Washington, Philadelphia, and the New England Coast.