Missouri is no stranger to disasters. The state has fallen victim to floods, tornadoes, fires and structural failures. Each time, the residents have rallied together to help each other through the effects of such disasters. Missourians have proven time and time again to be resilient, and came back each time stronger than before. Here are just a few of the worst ones we have seen.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Great Flood of 1993
The Great Flood of 1993 took place from April to October along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries. With $15 billion in damages, it was among the costliest and most devastating to ever occur in the United States. The flooded area totaled around 30,000 square miles and was the worst such U.S. disaster since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Pictured is a US Army Corp of Engineers photo of the Missouri River’s damage to US Highway 63 near Jefferson City.
2. January 2007 North American Ice Storm
The North American ice storm that occurred in January of 2007 affected a large area of parts of both the north and the south. It resulted in at least 74 deaths across 12 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, and caused power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of people
The Governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard, and a local disaster area was declared in southwestern Missouri. Besides devastating power outages, the Amtrak service was also shut down across Missouri due to downed trees. In total, 34 counties plus the city of St. Louis were declared disaster areas by the President, and damage in Missouri totaled $352.9 million.
3. Great Flood of 1951
In mid-July 1951, heavy rains led to flooding in the Kansas, Neosho, Marais Des Cygnes, and Verdigris river basins. The damage exceeded $935 million in an area covering eastern Kansas and Missouri, which, adjusting for inflation, is nearly $8.52 billion in 2016. The flood resulted in the loss of 17 lives and displaced 518,000 people.
4. Johnson’s Shut-Ins Flooding
When the Taum Sauk pumped storage plant reservoir on a neighboring mountain failed on December 14, 2005, Johnson’s Shut Ins was devastated by a catastrophic flood. It destroyed the park’s campground, which was fortunately unoccupied at the time. The only injuries were minor and were sustained by the park superindentent and his family, the only people at the park at the time.
The park was closed due to the damage, and didn’t completely reopen for water recreation in 2009, and a new campground opened in 2010. Restoration was funded by $52 million of a settlement of $180 million, paid by AmerenUE, the owner and operator of the failed reservoir.
5. Times Beach, Missouri
The former town of Times Beach in St. Louis County was once home to more than two thousand people. This little community on Route 66 ended up being the site of one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. History. In 1971, the U.S. Center for Disease Control conducted soil tests in Times Beach as a response to reports of unexplained deaths of horses, birds, and other small animals in the area, as well as acute poisoning symptoms including headaches, nosebleeds, stomach pain, diarrhea, and skin rashes in the people living there.
Turns out that motor oil that had been sprayed to control dust was laced with toxic waste. However, residents weren’t alerted to the problem until EPA documents containing information about the dioxin contamination were leaked in 1982. The entire town of Times Beach was evacuated and declared a Superfund site in 1983 and the town was officially disincorporated in 1985.
6. Earthquakes of New Madrid
In New Madrid in 1811 and 1812, the worst series of earthquakes in the U.S. occurred. In that short time, there were more than 1,000 earthquakes ranging up to approximately magnitude 8, which is the most powerful non-subduction zone earthquake ever recorded in the United States. The major quake was felt as far away as the East Coast.
7. Tornado 2011, Joplin
Late in the afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011, a catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado struck Joplin. Part of a larger late-May tornado outbreak, it reached a maximum width of nearly 1 mile during its journey through the southern part of the city. It grew and intensified, and traveled eastward across the city, then continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper County and Newton County. It was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971.
All told, the tornado killed 158 people injured over 1,000 others, and caused damages totaling $2.8 billion. It was the deadliest tornado to strike the United States since the 1947 and the seventh-deadliest overall. It also ranks as the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.
8. Hyatt Regency walkway collapse
This tragedy was one of the deadliest structural disasters in U.S. History at the time, not surpassed until the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001. On July 17, 1981, two vertically adjoining walkways at The Hyatt Regency in Kansas City collapsed onto a tea dance being held in the hotel's lobby. The falling walkways killed 114 and injured 216.
Did you or a member of your family experience any of these disasters? Do you remember when any of them happened? Share your experiences and opinions in the comments.