The 2018 hurricane season officially began on June 1st, so, of course, our book for June had to be Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by one of my favorite authors, Erik Larson.
I am a Gulf Coast gal, so reading about the hurricane I grew-up hearing stories about, seeing the few buildings that withstood the destruction while the building next to it was destroyed … well, I was all in as the saying goes. And, I had no doubt that Larson would reward us with a well researched, and detailed story.
I realize, except for Larson’s prose, the book has nothing to do with art (in general) or photography (specifically), … or does it? Did you notice the photography reference on page 64 about the firing of one weather observer for “indulging his passion for photography on bureau time” and turning the bureau office into a photography studio? Or, how about the beautiful description of lightning on pages 98-99: “… it writhed across the sky in ruptured webs. Here it came in blue-white shafts, each spasm like the flare of flash powder from a photographer’s trowel.” That, my friends, is why I like reading his books. What a description.
The book on whole, made me realize and appreciate all the advances in weather forecasting that have been made in the last century. In this day and age of apps, video, visuals, and information of all sorts, I especially liked reading about the ‘The Sailor’s Horn-Book for the Law of Storms’ by Henry Piddington which included transparencies, or “horn cards”, to assist mariners who found themselves in a cyclonic
circle. It seems the mariner would match the horn card with the current wind direction(s). These horn cards would presumably help the mariners predict where the eye of the storm was located and prevent them from sailing into it. Okay, tell me I am not a party of one on this point, am I? You would have to pull out transparent cards, put them together in sequence, while you are being buffeted about by the wind and rain… Let’s just sit and think about that for a minute, shall we?
It is also mind boggling to me that something we take for granted, like knowing a hurricane is heading our way, was not available. Therefore, the residents of Galveston were unable to make preparations and/or even life-saving evacuation plans. In fact, the residents were lulled into a false sense of security that is heart-breaking. I resolve to really appreciate the weather apps on my devices, the weather band radio that alerts me to storms in the area,… and, stop complaining that the local weather predictions are a little off the mark. THIS was serious. My area not getting some rain as predicted… yeah, I’m probably going to let that go from now on.
I also did not realize that, prior to the hurricane, Galveston was on the fast-track to rival it’s sister city, Houston. The hurricane of 1900 dashed that trajectory. But, it made me wonder how things would have been different. What Galveston would look like now, etc.
I could go on and on, but I want to know what you think? Let me know in the comments if you read the book and what are your thought?