Most Devastating Hurricanes in American History

Natural disasters are a force against which we are all but powerless. The best military in the world can’t defend against an earthquake, and all the planning and preparation in the world can’t stop the devastation rendered by a tornado. When it comes to these naturally occurring phenomena, we as a species and as a society are at the mercy of the power of Mother Nature. All that we can do in their aftermath is pick ourselves up and try to help one another the best way that we’re able.

Texas is currently experiencing this aftermath following the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, which started on August 25, 2017. It has widely been recognized as one of the largest disasters to take place on American soil and is the costliest, estimating damage costs at nearly $180 billion. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, let’s take a look back to the most devastating hurricanes faced by the United States over the past century.

Superstorm Sandy • 2012

In late October of 2012, the eastern half of the United States was hit with one of the costliest storms ever to hit the nation. Of the 50 states, 24 were affected by this Category 3 storm which destroyed more than 650,000 homes and rendered over $50 billion worth of damage while cutting power to 8.5 million people in the Northeastern United States. Just over a month after the hurricane, the 12-12-12: Concert for Sandy Relief raised money for disaster relief, and the United States government passed a bill to provide $60 billion in aid to the areas affected by the storm.

Hurricane Katrina • 2005

In 2005, the Southeastern United States was hit with a storm whose devastation is still being felt over a decade later. While the winds alone wreaked catastrophic damage, the storm surge, peaking at 28 feet in some parts of Mississippi, was what really hurt the area alongside the levees and floodwalls that broke in New Orleans. Until Hurricane Harvey, this was the costliest storm, flooding more than 80% of New Orleans and costing approximately $108 billion in damaged property.

Hurricane Charley • 2004

This Category 4 storm hit ground in Southern Florida during August of 2004. The storm was so bad that Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency for the residents of Florida and, for only the second time in history that a park at Disney World was closed due to a hurricane. All told, the hurricane caused about $15.1 billion worth of damage, making it one of the costlier storms to affect the country.