Natural disasters in the United States are not always a case of crazy weather and geography. They’re often a direct result of the depletion of non-renewable resources and over-industrialization. The pollution from forest fires also generates greenhouse gases which lead to tornadoes, melting icebergs, dry rivers, and worse. Though there have been several crushing natural disasters in the U.S., these four were by far the deadliest.

Hurricane Galveston

Hurricane Galveston is also called the Great Storm of 1900. Historians credit this Category 4 storm as responsible for decimating the cotton-trading Texas business hub Galveston. Before the storm, Galveston was on the brink of prosperity. Then on September 8, 1900, 15-foot waves swallowed almost the entire island, killing an estimate of 8,000 people and changing the course of history.

Hurricane Katrina

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left 80 percent of New Orleans underwater. This natural disaster started as a Category 1 Atlantic storm over Florida. By the time it reached New Orleans, it was already a Category 5 monster. This was America’s costliest weather-based disaster. An estimate of 2,000 people died, and several thousand more were unaccounted for. The Bush Administration had to spend more than $125 billion in repairs and reconstruction.

Hurricane Okeechobee

The 1928 Hurricane Okeechobee tragically claimed 2,500 American lives in Florida. The storm started off the west coast of Africa, gaining momentum as it passed over Puerto Rico. It was a full-blown Category 5 storm by the time it reached Florida in the late evening. Officials miscalculated evacuation timings which meant that by the time the Hurricane arrived, it was too late for Florida residents who lived on low-lying ground.

Peshtigo Forest Fire

The Peshtigo Forest Fire of 1871 was brought on by drought and a wildfire. A windstorm near Peshtigo city fanned several small prairie fires until roaring flames rapidly engulfed 12 towns on both sides of the Peshtigo River. The inferno called the worst in American history, left 1,200 people dead.

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