Natural Disasters

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Entry Category: Natural Disasters

Flood of 1927

aka: Great Flood of 1927
aka: Mississippi River Flood of 1927
aka: 1927 Flood
The Flood of 1927 was the most destructive and costly flood in Arkansas history and one of the worst in the history of the nation. It afflicted Arkansas with a greater amount of devastation, both human and monetary, than the other affected states in the Mississippi River Valley. It had social and political ramifications which changed the way Arkansas, as well as the nation, viewed relief from natural disasters and the responsibility of government in aiding the victims, echoing the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the present day. In largely agrarian Arkansas, the Flood of 1927 covered about 6,600 square miles, with thirty-six out of seventy-five Arkansas counties under water up to thirty feet deep in places. In Arkansas, more people …

Flood of 1937

A cold, rainy January in 1937 set the stage for one of the worst floods—if not the worst—in Arkansas. Corrective action undertaken during the preceding ten years kept Mississippi River levees along Arkansas’s border from breaking, however, thereby preventing a repeat of the Flood of 1927. Nevertheless, eleven Arkansas waterways overflowed, inundating or otherwise affecting seventeen adjacent counties. Eleven additional states flooded, from West Virginia to Louisiana, affecting 1.5 million people in 196 counties and submerging 8,141,182 acres (12,721 square miles) along the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. This natural calamity shattered all previous disaster records, excluding World War I, according to the American Red Cross (ARC). Flood conditions developed over January and February 1937 from abnormal barometric pressure over …


Floods are one of the most commonly occurring natural hazards in the United States. Their effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or can occur in large scale, affecting entire river basins and several states. About 3,800 towns and cities in the United Sates with populations of more than 2,500 lie on floodplains. The National Weather Service has documented some ninety-two flood deaths per year in the United States since 1903. This figure does not include flood-related deaths associated with Hurricane Katrina (2005). Since 1997, more than half (about fifty-seven percent) of all flood deaths have been vehicle-related fatalities. Throughout its history, Arkansas has been drastically affected by floods, with the most notable being in 1927 and 1937. …

Hurricane Katrina/Rita Evacuees

Following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005, the evacuated population of New Orleans, Louisiana, was redistributed throughout America to forty-five states and the District of Columbia. As expected, states in the South took in more of the displaced than the rest of the country. An estimated eighty percent of Katrina evacuees temporarily relocated to Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, or Arkansas. Arkansas received approximately 75,000 evacuees, and Texas initially took in more than 250,000 at the Houston Astrodome, the Reliant Complex, the George R. Brown Convention Center, and other sites in southern Texas. However, no state experienced a population increase larger than Arkansas, whose population jumped 2.5 percent after the evacuees arrived. The first evacuees …

New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812

The New Madrid Earthquakes took place between December 1811 and April 1812 along an active fault line that extends roughly from Marked Tree (Poinsett County) in a northeasterly direction, crossing several states for about 150 miles. The earthquakes and aftershocks caused extensive damage throughout northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri, altering the landscape, affecting settlement of the area, and leaving noticeable reminders that another huge earthquake could happen at any time. The town of New Madrid, Missouri, on the Mississippi River, was founded by Revolutionary War hero George Morgan in 1789. The town was named by Morgan in an attempt to ingratiate himself and receive a land grant from the King of Spain. Its later pronunciation placed the emphasis on the …


Tornadoes—destructive, violently spinning vortices of air extending from high within severe thunderstorms to the surface of the earth—are more common in the United States than anywhere else on the planet. They are particularly prevalent in the area known as “Tornado Alley,” where the proper ingredients come together: a combination of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico pulled northward by storm systems dragging strong continental cold air from Canada. While Arkansas is not normally included on maps of the infamous Tornado Alley, which is usually considered to stretch from north Texas northward through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, the state has suffered many devastating tornado outbreaks. In January 1999, Arkansas recorded the most tornadoes on any individual January day in …