Top 4 Most Iconic Natural Disasters In US History

Category: Media & Culture / May 23, 2013 7:38PM EDT


The massive tornado that ripped through Oklahoma this week killed 24 people and may have caused upwards of two billion dollars in damage. The images coming out of Moore, the small Oklahoma town where the tornado hit are shocking: the mile-wide twister cut a scar in the countryside, leaving a nearly unbelievable trail of destruction. All in all 13,000 homes are thought to have been destroyed, affecting 33,000 people and devastating this small community. 
But the United States is no stranger to major natural disasters.
Most recently was the tragic Hurricane Sandy that hit the east coast of the US just below New York City on October 30th 2012, badly flooding much of the metropolitan area. It was one of the strongest storms the US has ever seen claiming 72 American lives and costing upwards of $70 billion in damages: Some of the worst hit areas like New York City and New Jersey are still struggling to recover. 
The level of damage was only surpassed by another tragic natural disaster, Hurricane Katarina, which blew across southern Florida into the Louisiana coast with intense winds of 125mph. The category 1 hurricane claimed the lives of 1,836 people. The scene after the fact looked like a war zone; many lost their lives, their homes, their communities: The estimated cost of damage is around $125 billion.
Mount St Helens erupted 50 miles north or Portland, Oregon on May 18th 1980. It was one of the most destructive volcanic eruptions in US History, spewing an 80,000 foot-high eruption column and decimating the landscape for hundreds of square miles. 
The volcanic ash spread across 11 states. In addition to the 57 lives that were lost 200 homes and 27 bridges were completely destroyed. The estimated damage was somewhere between $2.7billion in 2011 terms. 
But perhaps the most indelible of US natural disaster occurred over 100 years ago. On April 18th, 1906 a powerful earthquake shook San Francisco, California, causing fires to break out all over the city which lasted for days. When the fires had been put out over 80% of the city had been destroyed, more than 3,000 people had been killed and 227,000 to 300,000 people were left homeless. The estimated cost of the damage is over 10 billion dollars in today’s terms.
As the community of Moore, Oklahoma begins to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, we’re reminded that there’s no way to avoid earth’s tragic flow of natural disasters. Moore, like San Francisco, Mount Saint Helen’s, the Gulf , New Jersey and New York, will recover, but, like all recoveries, it will take time. For now we’re left to simply marvel at the awesome and destructive power of Mother Nature.