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America’s 10 Worst Natural Disasters

A look at 10 of America’s worst natural disasters. Many of us were not around during most of these disasters, but we all feel the pain of every tragedy.

1. Galveston, Texas Hurricane- September 18, 1900

Estimated deaths: 8000

The deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history was the hurricane that engulfed the rich, port city of Galveston, Texas, on September 18, 1900. This category 4 storm devastated the city. It killed 1 in 6 residents and destroying most of the buildings in its path.

2. Okeechobee Hurricane, Florida- September 16, 1928

Estimated deaths: 2500+

Coastal residents living in Palm Beach, Florida, in every way prepared for this category 4 hurricane, but it was along the south shores of Lake Okeechobee in the Florida Everglades nearly all of its 2000 plus victims perished. Many of these innocent people were migrant workers working in isolated locations; these workers had no warning of this disaster waiting to happen.

3. Johnstown, PA Flood- May 31, 1889

Estimated deaths: 2209+

An uncared for southwestern Pennsylvania dam and many days of rain combined to create one of America’s greatest tragedies. The South Fork Dam, which was built to hold back Lake Conemaugh for the well known South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club, collapsed on May 31, 1889. More than 20 million tons of water created a massive wave that reached 70 feet high and swept 14 miles down the Conemaugh River Valley, destroying everything in its path, including most of the industrialized city of Johnstown.

4. Chenier Caminada Hurricane- October 1, 1893

Estimated deaths: 2000+

The name of this Louisiana hurricane comes from the island-type peninsula, located 54 miles from New Orleans, which lost 779 people to this devastating storm. This deadly hurricane was long before we could predict the weather with forecasting tools, but is said to have had winds approaching 100 miles per hour. It was one of the two deadly hurricanes that hit the U.S. during the 1893 hurricane season.

5. “Sea Islands” Hurricane- August 27-28, 1893

Estimated deaths: 1000 – 2000

It is assumed that the “Great Storm of 1893″ that destroyed the South Carolina and Georgia coast was at least a Category 4 Hurricane, but experts have to idea of knowing exactly, since hurricane intensity measures weren’t measured for storms before 1900. The storm killed an estimated 1,000 – 2,000 people, mostly from storm surges affecting the low barrier of the “Sea Islands” off the Carolina coast.

6. Hurricane Katrina- August 29, 2005

Estimated deaths: 1836+

The most destructive hurricane ever to strike the United States is Hurricane Katrina it was the 11th named storm in the 2005 hurricane season. The devastation in New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast region took over 1,800 lives, billions of dollars in damage, and devastating losses to the region’s rich cultural heritage. Unlike the storms listed before it, every American remembers this disaster because it affected all of us in different ways. Some people were directly affected by it, and many had family and friends that were affected. If you weren’t a part of it, or related to someone in it you were praying for the injured and donating your time or money.

7. Great New England Hurricane- September 31, 1938

Estimated deaths: 720

The hurricane named by some as the “Long Island Express” made landfall over Long Island and Connecticut as a category 3 storm on September 21, 1938. The powerful hurricane eliminated almost 9,000 buildings and homes, blamed for over 700 deaths, and reshaped the landscape of the Long Island shore. The storm caused over 306 dollars million in damage in 1938 dollars, which would equal out to about 3.5 billion dollars in today’s dollars.

8. San Francisco Earthquake- April 18, 1906

Estimated deaths: 3,000- confirmed: 700

In the early hours of April 18, 1906, the sleeping city of San Francisco was shaken by a massive earthquake. Walls caved in, streets buckled, and gas and water lines snapped, residents had almost no time to react and take cover from the earthquake. The earthquake itself lasted less than a minute, but fires fueled by the broken gas lines, they city was left with no water to put them out. Four days later, half of San Francisco’s population was homeless, and had killed between 700 and 3000 people.

9. Georgia, South Carolina Hurricane- August 27, 1881

Estimated deaths: 700

Hundreds of people were surrounded by this hurricane that struck the east coast at the juncture of Georgia and South Carolina, causing severe damage to the cities Savannah and Charleston. The storm then moved inland resulted in about 700 deaths.

10. Tri State Tornado in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana- March 18, 1925

Estimated deaths: 695

Considered the most powerful and devastating tornado in American history, the Great Tri-State Tornado swarmed through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Its uninterrupted 219 mile course killed 695 people, injuring more than 2000, destroyed nearly 15,000 homes.

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User Comments
  1. G. Walker, Jr.

    On June 2, 2008 at 8:47 am


    This piece was historically relevant and offered useful information about America’s most devasting natural catastrophes.

  2. Dave

    On September 12, 2008 at 10:10 pm


    Wouldn’t the great Peshtigo Fire (Wisconsin) that claimed around 2k lives in 1871 be considered a natural disaster?

  3. James

    On September 29, 2008 at 2:22 pm


    This is truly intresting. a very helpful list for research.

  4. James

    On September 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm


    No. it was man. but i guess we are part of nature. So yes it could be included.

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