Hurricane Harvey – Will the Seawall protect Galveston?

With hurricane Harvey increasing in strength as it nears the Texas coast, a lot of people are wondering if the Seawall will protect Galveston Island.

The residents & business owners in Galveston are hoping it does!

Will the Seawall protect Galveston?

The Seawall was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1902 after the most deadly hurricane in United States’ history struck the area in September of 1900. With a record loss of somewhere between 6000 & 11,000 lives and the complete destruction of over 3600 homes, it caught the coast of Texas off guard. The storm was considered a category 4. At one point Galveston Texas was under 15′ of sea water.

The Seawall was constructed 17′ high and the base was made 16′ wide and tapered at top. The first Seawall was only about 3.3 miles long. Over the next 60 years, it was extended to more than 10 miles long.

Although the Seawall in Galveston was built as functional protection from storm surge, it also has provided recreational enjoyment. Visitors and tourist have long enjoyed walking the length of the Seawall, parking on it to access the beach, and fishing from its rocky bottom.

Foot of the Galveston Seawall

Since the historical event in 1900, Galveston has survived several other natural disasters.

  1. June 26, 1902 – Tropical storm smacked Galveston bringing a twister that knocked a freight train off its tracks.
  2. July 21, 1908 – Tropical storm came inland and derailed many train cars. Storm swells were at 10′ but the Seawall held tight. No lives were lost behind the Seawall, but 5 fatalities were reported on the outside
  3. August 27, 1909 – Storm surge was only 3′ and the Seawall held.
  4. June 27, 1913 – Tropical storm surge created 12.7′ waves. The Seawall saved Galveston.
  5. August 16, 1915 – This storm was rumoured to have been a rival to the Great Tropical Storm of 1900. This time the 12′ storm surge came over the Seawall. The downtown area swam in 5-6′ of sea water. All beach front bath houses were washed away. There were 12 fatalities and 1 of which was behind the Seawall.
  6. September 14, 1919 – Sea swells at 8′ 8″…this storm wrecked Corpus Christi harder than Galveston.
  7. August 14, 1932 – The Seawall saved Galveston from another tropical storm.
  8. 1933 – This year saw 5 tropical storms in the gulf.
  9. September 23, 1941 – Galveston measured 7′ tides and all rice crops were ruined.
  10. August 29, 1942 – Over 50,000 people stumbled over each other to flee Galveston as this storm approached due to a hurricane that struck just 8 days before. Galveston survived.
  11. July 27, 1943 – Big hurricane! Winds of over 100 mph knocked brick buildings over and churches collapsed. Northerly winds across Galveston’s bay kept tides low. Storm surge was 6′ feet. There were 11 casualties. Galveston survived.
  12. August 24, 1947 – Hurricane with sea water storm surge of less than 4′.
  13. October 3, 1949 – Tropical storm was mild for Galveston only moderately damaging streets.

In 1950, the US military began naming storms and hurricanes. By 1954 the public was beginning to be made aware of storm names. There have been a great number of storms affect Galveston since 1950. Rather than listing them all for you I recommend you go here to further your research. It’s where a lot of my data came from on the historical storms listed in this article.

So, after all this time, will the Seawall protect Galveston? Hurricane Harvey was just upgraded to a category 4 hurricane. Please keep Texas in your prayers!


  1. As a Long Islander who has seen my share of Hurricanes. This is devastating for Texas, My prayers are with everyone and I hope things improve soon

  2. It is heartbreaking to see all of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. I have been praying daily for those families who have been displaced.

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