Mother Nature brings real beauty into the world, but she’s also a cruel mistress who wreaks havoc and racks up a considerable death toll amidst a hurricane’s wrath. These devastating storms have left communities broken but united by a common cause. Some of the most memorable hurricanes today include Hurricane Katrina, which took the lives of 1,833 people and caused around $434 billion worth of economic damage. Throughout this article, we discuss the ten worst hurricanes in US history.
The Great Galveston Hurricane, which took place in 1900, was the deadliest natural disaster in US history. Hitting Galveston, Texas on September 8th, 1900, this Category 4 hurricane brought winds of up to 140mph and a storm surge of up to 15 feet.
The exact number of deaths isn’t known, but it’s estimated to be between 6,000 and 12,000, with most of the deaths caused by drowning. The storm destroyed 3,600 buildings and led to around $30 million in damage, which is $900 million today.
Hurricane Galveston is a significant event because it changed the way the US prepared for and responded to natural disasters. In particular, it led to the creation of the United States Weather Bureau, which is designed to provide more accurate warnings for hurricanes and other devastating natural events.
The Great Miami Hurricane swept through the greater Miami area in 1926 and caused around $100 million (1.5 billion today) in damage. Killing around 372 people, this hurricane was the deadliest in Florida’s history.
After destroying thousands of businesses and homes, which left many homeowners without a roof, the city of Miami introduced stricter building regulations and started to invest in sturdier flood and storm defenses.
The Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 killed around 2,500 people and became one of the deadliest in US history. Causing landfall near Palm Beach, Florida, on September 16th, 1928, this Category 4 hurricane brought winds of up to 145mph and submerged the areas around Lake Okeechobee.
As well as leaving the community in tatters, the storm destroyed millions of dollars in livestock and crops, which had a lasting impact on the agricultural industry of Florida. The aftermath prompted stronger levees and other flood defenses around the lake to help safeguard the area from future devastation.
The Labor Day Hurricane, which was Category 5, hit the Florida Keys on September 2, 1935, with winds of 185mph. The storm killed at least 485 people, including 259 World War I veterans working on a relief project to build railway extensions within the Keys.
The damage to local businesses and residents came to around $6 million at the time (around $90 million today). Even though the Labor Day Hurricane will never be forgotten, the majority of businesses impacted by the storm are now open and thriving. However, opening times are different for restaurants and bars.
Hurricane Camille was another Category 5 event that caused winds of up to 190mph. Hitting Pass Christian, Mississippi on August 17th, 1969, the storm left much of coastal Mississippi and Alabama underwater.
Camille left a path of destruction along the Gulf Coast as it decimated thousands of homes and businesses, which led to the untimely deaths of 250 people. The estimated damage totaled around $1.4 billion ($11 billion today).
In 1972, the Florida Panhandle was hit by a Category 3 hurricane named Hurricane Agnes. The storm moved inland and caused mass flooding across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US. Agnes killed 122 people, which is much less than other hurricanes, but it was the most expensive in terms of damages ($21.7 billion today).
The rainfall that came with Hurricane Agnes led the Susquehanna River to reach its highest-ever level, and it was a serious wake-up call for the US government, which worked hard to strengthen defenses in the area.
Hurricane Andrew, which was classified as Category 5, hit Homestead, Florida in 1992 and smashed through the area leaving $26.5 billion of damage behind. The death toll reached around 65 people in the US and 25 in the Bahamas.
Andrew’s aftermath saw 250,000 people left homeless and thousands of businesses laid to waste. As well as Florida, areas of Louisiana and stretches of the Gulf Coast were also impacted. This hurricane led to the National Hurricane’s adoption of the Hurricane Andrew Forecasting model, which tracks and more accurately predicts the intensity of hurricanes.
Just five years into the new millennium, Hurricane Katrina made land near Buras, Louisiana. This Category 5 beast led to the deaths of 1,833 people in the US and 128 in the Bahamas. The damage ripped through Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama and caused around $125 billion ($175 billion today) in damage.
Katrina’s winds reached speeds of 175mph, and the storm surge reached 28 feet in certain areas. Alongside the tragic death toll, Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to the infrastructure of southern Mississippi and Louisiana.
2008 brought along another devastating hurricane to Galveston, Texas. Hurricane Ike was a Category 4 Hurricane that became the third most expensive in US history, with the damage totaling $24.9 billion ($33.6 billion today). Including 74 deaths in Haiti, Ike took the lives of 195 people.
With winds up 140mph and a storm surge of 18 feet, the storm caused extensive damage throughout Texas, Louisiana, and parts of the Caribbean and Bahamas. Further, more than 1 million people were forced to leave their homes, and thousands were left homeless.
Hurricane Maria made landfall on Dominica island on September 18th, 2017, before sweeping across Puerto Rico two days later. There were an estimated 2,975-4,635 deaths and damage equating to $91.6 billion ($100 billion today).
Millions of people across Puerto Rico were left without power, and many people lost their homes for many months to years.
If you or your loved ones have been impacted by a hurricane, you can seek compensation for damages.
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