In Texas, Rita Stirs Memories of U.S.'s Deadliest Storm

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After the storm, Galveston residents were determined to rebuild their city and prevent a recurrence of the tragedy. The buildings that survived were raised, and sand from the Gulf of Mexico was pumped onto the island to lift it eight feet (two and a half meters) above sea level. A 17-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) seawall also was built to protect Galveston from storm surges.

Galveston leaders a century ago probably thought this dramatic effort would protect the city from whatever the Gulf of Mexico could throw at it. But they didn't envision a storm like Rita.

Depending on where Rita makes landfall, hurricane forecasters fear the storm could bring a surge of more than 20 feet (6 meters) into Galveston Bay, which would easily overtop the city's seawall.

Willie Drye is author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, published by National Geographic Books.

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