The Ten Worst Natural Disasters
Forget annoying earthquakes like the 1906 temblor that destroyed San Francisco, or events such as the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, and even the 1994 Los Angeles shaker that brought down sections of major freeways. In terms of total destruction, these natural disasters are pikers by world standards and serve only to remind us that extremes are the norm.
The National Hurricane Center pegs Hurricane Andrew, a category five storm in 1992, as the most destructive to hit the United States. It caused damage estimated at $26.5 billion.
To date, 2004 was the most destructive hurricane season with four named storms slamming ashore: Charley, causing $15 billion in damage; Ivan, $14.2 billion; Frances, $8.9 billion and Jeanne, $6.9 billion. Total: $45 billion.
Hurricane Hugo is ranked as fifth most destructive storm, causing $7 billion in damage in 1989.
Hurricane Allison caused an estimated $5 billion in damage in 2001; Floyd, $4.5 billion in 1999; Isabel, $3.4 billion in 2003; and Fran, $3.2 billion in 1996.
New Orleans last took a direct hit from a hurricane in 1965 when Betsy's 8-to-10-foot storm surge flooded the city. The storm was blamed for 74 deaths in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
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