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Worst Disasters in US History That Left The Nation In Peril

worst disasters in US history

When a nation is struck by something as terrible as a disaster, either natural or man-made, lives are ruined, families are lost, cities crumble and the country is hit with a devastating blow leaving those affected in a state of turmoil.

It is when horrible occurrences like this take place where courageous men and women unite and come together as one to help their neighbor in need. When a country get knocked down, it’s how they get back on their feet that determines who they are as a people.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 worst US Disasters that have accounted for thousands of deaths and millions of heartaches.

10) Hurricane Andrew

It’s impossible to forget the natural calamity that left South Florida in a tragic condition taking the lives of 65 people and causing nearly $26 billion in damages. The category 5 hurricane took place in 1992 and damaged over 100,000 homes with ease making Hurricane Andrew the most destructive hurricane in Florida history.

hurricane andrew worst disasters in US history


9) Hurricane Sandy

The pain of Hurricane Sandy still eats at the lives of countless people and the memory is and always will be tattooed in the minds of many. It’s still not certain what the total damages were but they’re currently estimated to be upwards of $75 billion that is sure to continue to rise. The 2012 storm caused 233 deaths and completely severed power to over 8 million homes. Undoubtedly one of the worst disasters in US history.

worst disasters in us history hurricane sandy


8) Hurricane Katrina

There are a few factors that contribute to the catastrophic harm that Hurricane Katrina caused. New Orleans was hit and hit hard and it’s unique location mixed with powerful winds forced Lake Pontchartrain to flood over 80% of the city. The city’s cultural heritage was hurt, over $80 billion of damage was caused, and the 2005 storm claimed the lives of 1,833 people. The storm wreaked havoc from Florida to Texas and is considered the most destructive hurricane in US history.

hurricane katrina worst disaster in us history


7) Peshtigo Fire

The fire dates back to October 8th, 1871. A fire that most likely would’ve been controllable and manageable evolved into a fire that spread over 1,875 square miles due to fierce winds that killed around 1,500 people. While it happened nearly 150 years ago the Peshtigo Fire is still considered one of the worst disasters in US history.

peshtigo fire worst us disaster

6) Johnstown Flood

This event is especially special to the department of the American Red Cross as it was the first disaster the organization was able to attend to. The Johnstown Flood is a crucial part of history in regards to disaster management and emergency crisis.The flood occurred on May 31, 1889 and killed 2,209 people. The combination of heavy rain and a dam break sent 20 million gallons of water into the Mississippi river creating a wave 70 feet high that traveled over 14 miles destroying everything and everyone in its path.

worst disaster in US history

5) Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

One of the most famous and easily one of the worst disasters in US history took place on March 24, 1989. An Exxon Valdez oil tanker had a malfunction and struck a reef in Alaska that released 10 million gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean. The oil spread over 1,300 miles and polluted everything it touched. The spill severely damaged the sea life and neighboring areas and even till this day they are still trying to repair the damage.

worst disasters in US history

4) Galveston, Texas Hurricane

The deadliest natural disaster in US history taking the lives of an estimated 12,000 people on September 18th, 1900. The category 4 hurricane had winds blowing upwards of 145 mph killing 1 in 6 residents and utterly destroying 3,600 homes. Even though Galveston was rebuilt it was never fully restored to the glorious port it once was and it sparked an interest of focus on hurricane prevention.

worst disaster in US history

3) September 11, 2001

Indisputably one of the worst disasters our great nation has ever suffered. I, as I’m sure everyone can, still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when news spread about the 9/11 attacks that took place. 19 terrorists took control of 4 planes and crashed them into the Pentagon, World Trade Center, a field in Pennsylvania and left the US with a total  2,973 victims.

worst disaster in us history 9/11

2) San Francisco Earthquake

The great city of San Francisco was completely blindsided by a massive earthquake on the morning of April 18, 1906 that not only took lives of an estimated 3,400 people but destroyed roughly 80% of the infamous city. While the Great San Fran Earthquake itself only spanned about a minute, the fires it created took around 4 days to finish it’s damage. Thousands were left homeless forced to live in tents.

worst disaster in US history san francisco earthquake

1) Pearl Harbor

What is probably the most famous disaster on this list is certainly one of the worst in history. Pearl Harbor shocked all on the December 7, 1941 with a surprise attack by the Japanese on the Hawaiian naval base killing 2,403 Americans which led to America’s involvement with World War 2.

pearl harbor worst disaster in US history


As stated before, it’s not how a country gets knocked down, it’s how they get back up that shows who they really are. When something so unbelievably unspeakable occurs, people from around the world band together to extend their hand and offer help. It’s these people whom truly epitomize selflessness, compassion, and nobility.

Today there are numerous organizations whose sole purpose is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Everglades University appreciates the courageousness and bravery in people and offers a degree program that focuses on Crisis and Disaster Management which is ideal for those who want to help.