Death and Destruction

Part A: Specific Dangers of Storms

Stop & Think

Before you begin, record your predictions to the following questions:
1: What do you think is the major cause of property damage from hurricanes?
2: What do you think is the main danger to human lives in a hurricane?

Boats piled up by Hurricane Ivan Hurricane Ivan sank and stacked numerous boats at a marina in Pensacola, Florida.

Working with a partner or small group, spend about 10 minutes finding and examining appropriate photographs or video footage of the damage caused by hurricanes. Identify one or two photos or videos that show good examples of a particular danger for property or lives. Use your own search techniques, or try some of the following sites. Links will open in new browser pages.

If you have the ability to access streaming video, you might check some of the shorter clips at these sites.

Stop & Think

3: Record the URLs of your top choices for interesting photos or videos that illustrate the dangers of a hurricane. Include a brief description of each resource you list.

"But I don't live in hurricane country..."

Even if you don't live in a region that experiences hurricanes, there is a real possibility that you will travel to a place where these storms occur at some time in your life. Whether in your home, on a trip for business or pleasure, with your family or alone, you may be faced with the need to protect yourself in order to survive one of these storms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control gathers and publishes information about deaths that are directly or indirectly attributed to events such as hurricanes. Browse through the following two reports to find some of the specific causes of deaths associated with hurricanes.

You'll encounter the following vocabulary and abbreviations in the reports:
decedenta person who has died
exacerbateto make a problem or bad situation worse
ECEvacuation Center
HCFHealth Care Facilities

Stop & Think

4: List 5-6 of the most common causes of death attributed to hurricanes.

Estimates on the number of deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 vary widely. Check the following report to find out about the difficulties in making an accurate count.

Stop & Think

5: From your reading, give a brief description of some of the challenges medical examiners had in making an accurate count of the number of deaths related to Hurricanes Katrina.
6: Of the fifteen deadliest hurricanes in the U.S. (Link will open in a new window) , only one occurred during the past 50 years. Does this fact mean that hurricanes have become less dangerous in the last 50 years? Discuss why you think fewer people are dying in U.S. hurricanes than in the past.

Costs of Property Damage

The costliest hurricanes in history (link will open in a new window) have been much more recent than the deadliest hurricanes. Costs attributed to hurricanes are compiled by insurance companies who receive claims from their customers following a disaster. To estimate the actual cost of property damage, the amount of insured damages is doubled to account for uninsured and underinsured damages.

Checking In

  • Compare the costs of property damage with the storm intensities (Category). Are the strongest storms (Category 5 hurricanes) the ones that result in the most damage?
  • Think about the factors that could affect costs attributed to hurricane damage. Which of the following do you think has the largest affect on costs for property damage associated with a hurricane? Discuss your ideas with a lab partner.
    1. Housing prices of affected communities
    2. Population Density
    3. Storm intensity
    4. Height above sea level (elevation) of affected area