Natural disasters can come in many forms. Earthquakes, fires, cyclones, tsunamis, heat waves, hurricanes, and other such events were very common in the previous decade (2000-2009). One could argue these events were more common than in previous decades. The earthquakes that occurred tended to be more powerful with several making the list of the most destructive on record.
Europe experienced a horrible, record setting heat wave in 2003. About 35,000 people died as a result of the heat wave. France contained most of the heat and had 15,000 people die.
On December 26, 2003, an earthquake occurred in Bam, Iran at 5:26 am local time. The earthquake was rather large at a 6.6 magnitude. More than 26,000 people died. This extreme loss of life may have been a result of buildings being built from mud brick and not earthquake protected. Those who did survive the earthquake were forced to endure the psychological impact for several years after the fact.
In 2004 a very strong earthquake hit the Indian ocean and caused a series of devastating tsunamis. The earthquake was between 9.1 and 9.3 magnitude and is the second largest recorded on a seismograph. This was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. More than 230,000 people lost their lives as a result of this event.
Hurricane Katrina of 2005 will never be forgotten by those of the age to remember when it occurred. Hurricane Katrina was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Over the weekend of August 27, 2005, it caused many Americas to view the weather in anticipation of a large disaster. Unfortunately, the hurricane did not disappoint and more than 1,800 people lost their lives. Eighty percent of New Orleans, Louisiana was flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina and four years later work is continuing to be done to restore what was damaged in the storm.
On October 8, 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the Kashmir area of Pakistan. The size of the earthquake was similar to San Francisco California’s earthquake from 1906. More than 75,000 people lost their lives in Pakistan with 1,400 more losing their lives in Indian Kashmir. Four people lost their lives in Afghanistan. Poor construction may have been a contributing factor to the great loss of life. The 2005 Kashmir earthquake is believed to be the 12th or 14th most destructive earthquake of all time.
Cyclone Nargis was a category four cyclone that caused a major national disaster in Burma. Cyclone Nargis hit on May 2, 2008 causing at least 146,000 fatalities. Most of these deaths occurred in the Labutta township and Boagle. It is believed the final death count was stopped at the point it was to prevent political fallout. Cyclone Nargis was the most damaging cyclone ever recorded in that basin. The damage report was more than $10 billion U.S. Dollars.
A massive, deadly earthquake occurred in China on May 12, 2008. The earthquake in the Sichuan province of China killed at least 68,000 people. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake measured at 8.0 on the magnitude scale. Millions of people were left without their homes. The Sichuan earthquake was the deadliest earthquake to hit China in thirty-two years. This earthquake is believed to be the nineteenth deadliest earthquake of all time. More than 146.5 billion dollars (in U.S. currency form-one trillion yuan in Chinese currency) has been allotted for reconstruction over the next three years.
Less than a year following a storm that brought baseball sized hail, Arkansas and other neighboring states experienced another bizarre weather occurrence on Jan 27-28, 2009. The ice storm that came through the area of Randolph County, AR brought something we were not accustomed to-ice–and a lot of it. Ice was caked on tree branches several inches thick. The weight from those branches caused a lot to fall and cause damage. These falling branches interfered with electricity for weeks in several places. Months following the storm, it wasn’t uncommon for electrical outages due to branches continuing to break. The number of those who died in this storm was small ( I believe 20 something) but several others were injured. Though this storm presented much fewer causalities, it was a freak event for the area in which I live and that is why I included it.
Not long after the 2009-2010 school year began, swine flu outbreaks occurred throughout the country. My children have a tendency to catch viruses and we were not spared with our daughter. Luckily, she fought the flu and returned to school a few days later. Swine flu causalities worldwide were up to more than 11,800 people as of December 2009.
The California wildfires of 2009 caused more than 330,000 acres to be destroyed beginning in early July and continuing throughout November. In August, several very large fires burned in Southern California. High temperatures, low humidity, and timber dry fuel propelled normal fires to go out of control. Dozens of these fires burned in California during the month of August. These fires destroyed hundreds of structures but because of warnings only two people were killed.