Thursday, June 19, 2014

Disaster Books: Hurricanes, Floods, and Tsumanis

1935 Hurricane Monument
I have been fascinated with true accounts of disasters since I was a little kid.  I don't think it's morbid curiosity.  I like the historical aspects, the compassionate feelings the tragedies invoke, the heroes and the villains, and the improvements that we as human beings, have created to try to counteract the forces of mother nature and our past hubris.  Plus, a good disaster book almost always keeps me on the edge of my seat and wanting to read more.

Since August will be the anniversary of four major tragedies, I thought I'd highlight the books and authors that are part of a genre called disaster books.  The definition according to Wikipedia is:

"Disaster books are a literary genre involving detailed descriptions of major historical disasters, often based on the historical records or personal testimonies of survivors. Since reportage of both natural disasters and man-made disasters is commonplace, authors tend to be journalists who develop their news reports into books."

This week we will be covering hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods.  Look for other types of disaster books in the following weeks.  Give these books and authors a try--you won't be disappointed.


Johnstown, PA After the Flood
The Johnstown Flood--Johnstown, PA--May 31, 1889--An elite hunting/fishing club neglected to repair the Johnstown Dam and ignored repeated warnings of leaks and possible failure. When the dam failed, it released a 40-foot-high, 1/2-mile-wide wall of water. Traveling at 40 mph, it swarmed over Johnstown and immediately killed approx. 2,000 people. It was so powerful that the body of one resident was found in Steubenville, OH--over 100 miles away.

--The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

--The Johnstown Flood (DVD)


Galveston after Storm
The Galveston Hurricane--Galveston, TX--September 8, 1900--over 8000 people were killed--$700 million in damages.   It was the worst natural disaster in United States history.  A seawall was finally built to protect the island.

--Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson

--Galveston and the 1900 Storm: Catastrophe and Catalyst by Patricia B. Bixel


Downtown Dayton, 1913 Flood
The Great Dayton Flood--Dayton, Ohio and other cities in the Great Miami watershed--March 21-March 26, 1913--An estimated 360 people died and 65,000 were displaced.  Approx. 20,000 homes were destroyed and damages were over $2 billion.  It was the greatest natural disaster in Ohio history.  Since 1922, the Miami Conservancy District's flood control system has kept Dayton safe from floods over 1500 times.

Time of Terror: the Great Dayton Flood of 1913 by Allan W. Eckert

Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913... by Geoff Williams

Letters from the Attic: Stories from the Victims... by Scott D. Trost


Train Derailed by 1935 Hurricane
1935 Labor Day Hurricane--August 29-September 10, 1935--Category 5 storm--408-600 killed (mostly in the Florida Keys) and $104 million in damages.  It was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in the U. S. and the Atlantic Basin in recorded history.  The storm surge was 18-20 feet high with over 185 mph winds.  The memorial contains the ashes of approx. 300 of the victims and is made from the local Keys limestone. (keystone)

Storm of the Century: the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 by Willie Drye


Downtown Huntington, WV During 1937 Flood
The Ohio-Mississippi River Valley Flood of 1937--from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL--January 18-February 5, 1937--385 dead, 1 million left homeless, and $8 billion in damages.  National authorities created a flood control plan with over 70 storage reservoirs.  Completed in the early 1940s, it has reduced the Ohio River flood heights. 

The Thousand Year Flood: the Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937 by David Welky


1938 Hurricane
The Great New England Hurricane of 1938--September 9-September 22, 1938--Category 5 storm--682-800 deaths and over $18 billion in damages.  It knocked down an estimated 2 billion trees in New York and New England.  Eastern Long Island was hit the worst and the storm was nicknamed "The Long Island Express."  It was so strong that it created 10 new inlets on E. Long Island.  Actress Katharine Hepburn narrowly escaped death from her home in Connecticut.

Great Hurricane: 1938 by Cherie Burns


Aftermath of 2004 Tsunami
2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami--18 countries affected--December 26, 2004--Over 220,000 people killed--1/3 of which were children.  500,000 people were injured and 5 million lost their homes and/or access to food and water.  Caused by a 10-second-long, 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the tsunami traveled 375 miles in 75 minutes at 300 mph.  The wave reached 33 ft high near the epicenter.  Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand had the most fatalities. Of the 5000 foreign tourists killed, Sweden lost the most people with 543 dead.  The deadliest tsunami in recorded history.

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Wave of Destruction: the Stories of Four Families and History's Deadliest Tsunami by Erich Krauss

Tsunami: The Aftermath (DVD)

Tsunami, the Wave that Shook the World (DVD)

The Impossible (DVD) and (Blu-ray)





Hurricane Katrina--August 23-September 3, 2005--Over 1,800 people died and it caused $108 billion in damage.  It was the costliest natural disaster and one of the deadliest hurricanes in U. S. history.

Not Left Behind: Rescuing the Pets of New Orleans by (Best Friends Animal Society)

The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why... by Mike Bryan and Ivor Van Heerden

Flood of Lies: the St. Rita's Nursing Home Tragedy by James A. Cobb Jr.

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

Not Just the Levees Broke by Phyllis Montana-Leblanc

1 Dead in Attic by Chris Rose



2011 Tohoku, Japan Earthquake & Tsunami--March 11, 2011--Over 21,000 deaths, over 3000 missing, and over 27,000 injured.  Caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake--Waves reached a height of 133 ft and traveled 6 miles inland in some places.  Estimated $235 billion in damages which makes it the costliest natural disaster in world history.  The wave also caused a partial nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant.  This makes it the 2nd largest nuclear disaster after Chernobyl.

Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham

3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan by Richard J. Samuels




No comments: