Greetings, readers. Here is my top ten list of what I consider to be the most terrible disaster that I have heard of. I was born in 1965 and I’m certain that in the 1800s or 1900s when plagues were around that could be considered a terrible disaster, too. However, I have decided to go with topics that I’ve learned about in school or that have happened so recently that I was able to watch it on TV.
#10. Flight 19: 1945, December 5. [Five Avenger bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a military bombing practice run, and soon found themselves smack in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Hopelessly lost when they ran out of fuel, they fell to the sea and to this day have never been found.]
#9. Loma Prieta California earthquake: 1989, October 17. [At the beginning of the third game of the 1989 World Series, at 8:04 pm local time, this earthquake struck the San Francisco area. Fans were startled and the players’ families were very upset. As far as the World Series went, there was structural damage to Candlestick Park, so it was decided to postpone the series until the stadium was repaired. The Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants resumed the World Series ten days later, on October 27. A much bigger story was all the damage caused by the massive quake, including two bridge failures, where whole sections of the top layer fell on the bottom layer, trapping people in their cars.]
#8. The B.P. oil spill in the Gulf: 2010 April 20. [The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. It leaked massive amounts of oil in to the Gulf of Mexico. It took several weeks to get on top of the problem. Although the event is now over, the lasting effects on the ecology will be felt for years to come.]
#7. Three Mile Island: 1979, March 28. [On that date, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas almost became uninhabitable. Reactor 2 had a coolant problem and released a small amount of radioactive material into the air. Folks in the area were evacuated promptly, but through the news later it was learned that this accident could have been a hell of a lot worse.]
#6. Hindenburg: 1937, May 6. [This terrible air disaster occurred as the giant airship was docking at Lakehurst, New Jersey. It had come from Europe and was scheduled to head back later that evening. Due to a static charge of some type, the Hindenburg caught fire near the tail and the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin was quickly engulfed in flames. Thirty-six people died, including one ground handler trying to moor the ship. Some passengers and crew miraculously survived.]
#5. Great Chicago Fire: 1871, October 8. [At least 300 people perished in this terrible fire, and 100,000 people were left homeless. It began in someone’s barn and quickly spread to neighboring houses. Before firefighters could arrive the situation was out of control, and burned a lot of homes and businesses before finally being put out days later with the help of rain.]
#4. Japan earthquake and tsunami: 2011, March 11. [The underwater 9.0 earthquake off the coast set off a massive tsunami, causing horrendous flooding that devastated Japan and actually reached parts of Hawaii. At least 19,000 people died in the disaster and the aftermath. The event impacted three nuclear power plants, including the Fukushima Daiichi (plant one) which lost power and had meltdowns. Radioactive material was released into the air and water, and people were evacuated in a 12 mile radius. Clean up of the plants and the recovery of the country took many months.]
#3. Hurricane Katrina: 2005, August 29. [After striking Florida first, the hurricane set course for the Louisiana/Mississippi border and hit it after regaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Much of New Orleans, which is near sea level anyway, was wiped out due to the massive flooding when the levees broke. Several thousand people were evacuated to the Super Dome for more days than they would have liked. Once there they became trapped. The administration at the time unfortunately had a slow response with their forthcoming aid, adding to the frustration of the victims.]
#2. The Titanic: 1912, April 14 and April 15. [The sinking of the ship has always fascinated me and I have studied it much. According to several documentaries and movies, many mistakes were made during that fateful evening. For example, the chairman of the White Star Line was trying to set a speed record. This would have been fine had the Titanic not entered a field of ice, which included the massive iceberg it hit. Another issue I have is that if the person in command would have simply turned the ship without putting it in full reverse first, the whole incident might not have occurred. There are other issues, but we don’t want this to become a book in itself.]
#1. Chernobyl: 1986, April 25 and April 26. [The world’s most devastating nuclear disaster occurred when a test went wrong. When the Chernobyl power plant had an explosion and meltdown, it released massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment. Many brave men went back into the building that evening to try to contain what they could, knowing they would be dead in hours. Experts say that the town of Pripyat and the surrounding zone will be uninhabitable by humans for close to a quarter of a million years. This to me is utterly frightening, for I live only a couple of hundred miles from Three Mile Island. I might have had to evacuate from my home as those people did.]
There’s the list. Please chime in with a comment if you agree, disagree, or have your own. Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.