Over the years, America has suffered greatly at the hands of natural disasters. Overuse of non-renewable resources, geography, over-industrialization are some of the factors that lead to irreversible changes in climate. The pollution created by means of burning forests and fossil fuel leads to excessive generation of greenhouse gases which in turn facilitates the formation of tornadoes, melting of icebergs, drying of rivers et al.
We’re revisiting 5 of the worst weather-based disasters that have wreaked havoc in the US history.
1. Hurricane Galveston
Known as the Great Storm of 1900, Hurricane Galveston, a category 4 storm, single-handedly destroyed the cotton-trading business hub. Prior to this, Galveston boasted of a booming future – the city was referred to as the “jewel of Texas”. On the morning of 8th September 1900, 15-foot-high waves submerged the thriving island city. By afternoon, an estimated 8,000 people had perished. If only the city officials hadn’t put off building a sea-wall to protect the city, things could have been different.
2. Hurricane Katrina
One of the deadliest and costliest disasters hit America in 2005. Hurricane Katrina started off as a category 1 Atlantic storm, blowing over Florida. With sustained winds of 125 mph, it entered Louisiana, breaking levees that shielded the surrounding New Orleans area, leaving 80% of the city under water. An estimated 2,000 people died. Katrina costed America a mind-boggling $125 billion.
3. Hurricane Okeechobee
Also known as the San Felipe Segundo hurricane, Hurricane Okeechobee claimed 2,500 lives in the year 1928. The storm began formation off the west coast of Africa on September 6, crossed over Puerto Rico on September 13, strengthening into a category 5 storm by then, and reached the shores of Florida on September 17. The residents were evacuated earlier in the day to lower grounds but since the hurricane didn’t arrive until late evening, they’d all moved back to their homes in the meantime. This is what real tragedies are made of.
4. Peshtigo Forest Fire
A massive forest fire engulfed Peshtigo (Wisconsin) on October 8, 1871. Lesser known of the two, the Peshtigo fire took place on the same day as the Great Chicago fire of 1871, and proved to be the deadliest fire to have ever hit the nation. The drought-stricken Peshtigo city broke into a wildfire when a sudden windstorm fanned the smaller prairie fires into engulfing a million acres of forest land. By the time the inferno had subsided, it had already burned down 12 towns on both sides of the Peshtigo river leaving 1,200 people dead.
5. Dust Bowl
The perils of a demand and supply economy drove the wheat farmers of The Great Plains into over plowing the Southern Plains. The Dirty 30’s is what they’re known as. Naturally, soil erosion followed resulting in a decade-long drought that converted the moist topsoil into dust. Windstorms swept up the dust and blew it eastward, clouding the skies with a thick dust as far as the Atlantic Coast. A third of the farmers lost their land and half a million Americans were rendered homeless.
Nature has her warning signals in place, the weather is her messenger. If we listen closely and more importantly, take action, a lot of lives can be saved. The world is slowly breaking into a revolution of conservation, but we still have a long way to go. Here’s to a future where we treat our natural resources respectfully. The resulting gift? Pleasant weather for all!