Top 5 Natural Disasters that Prove Everything is Bigger in Texas

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When it comes to a natural disaster, like a hurricane, tornado, or good old thunderstorm, Texas just has more ground to cover which translates to a lot more activity throughout the years. The following are just five of the incidents that showed just how big a disaster can be in Texas.

1. Hurricane Rita (2005)



Merely three weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, another hurricane made landfall resulting in additional destruction. This time, the destruction was largely concentrated in Texas and Louisiana both.

Hurricane Rita, made landfall on September 24, 2005, and proceeded to destroy or damage nearly 50,000 homes across nine counties of Southeast Texas. Thankfully the death toll was minimal as 113 deaths were reported. Houston and its surrounding metropolis were evacuated and even the Johnson Space Center relinquished control of the International Space Station to their Russian contemporaries in anticipation of the storms destruction. Many in the area tried to piece back their lives with minimal to no electrical services for weeks after the storm.

2. Bastrop County Complex Fire (2011)


Photo: Flickr/Tim Patterson

When it comes to wildfires, the heat and drought associated with a Texas summer can take a small flare up to a devastatingly destructive incident in a hurry. On September 4, 2011, after an extremely dry summer, three separate fires began in Bastrop County. The high winds associated with a nearby tropical storm caused the fires to rage and later merge east of the City of Bastrop. There were two fatalities and an estimated $325 million in damages to property in the area. The fire raged through the month of September and was declared controlled on October 10, 2011. Bastrop State park and the Lost Pines Forest also sustained some damage. The fire was finally extinguished on October 29, 2011.

3. Valentine Earthquake (1931)



The sweet town of Valentine, Texas is known for more than their local post office that stamps your yearly valentine with a specialty post mark from the city of love. They are also known for the largest earthquake to ever hit Texas. Occurring August 16, 1931, the Valentine earthquake had a magnitude of 6.5 and damaged every property in the town. There were no casualties reported but every structure sustained damage on some level. Many buildings built with adobe walls completely crumbled and chimneys toppled over on themselves The local school was damaged beyond repair and the yard of the school displayed actual cracks in the dirt. The incident also caused landslides and mudslides in the surrounding Van Horn Mountains and Chisos Mountains. The landslides occurred as far as New Mexico in the Guadalupe Mountains.

4. Jarrell Tornado (1997)



On May 27, 1997, there was an outbreak of multiple tornados throughout Central Texas. One such tornado was one of the most recent documented F5 tornados to touch down in Texas. The wind speeds of an F5 tornado can reach anywhere from 261-318 miles per hour and is the largest tornado documentation label given to the windy beasts. The tornado ripped through the small town of Jarrell, Texas and completely cleared away an entire subdivision of homes, leaving their debris scattered miles away. The tornado tore large patches of pavement from roads and completely demolished a recycling plant. The monstrosity was slow moving which increased its level of destruction as it moved through the town. Leaving a death toll of 27 people out of the 410 in the city’s population, the tornado stayed on the ground for nearly eight miles.

5. Galveston’s Great Storm (1900) 


Photo: Public Domain

Lastly, the largest storm to ever occur on American soil happened in Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900. The “Great Storm” left devastation for miles and it took $20 million to restore the town. Today that would roughly translate to $700 million. The death toll added up to more than 6,000 men, women, and children. The bustling and growing metropolis that was the port town was essentially leveled in a single day. Books documenting the stories of the survivors are hard to read and contain stories harder to comprehend due to the magnitude of destruction they witness. One of the most beloved and tragic stories from the storm is that of the sisters from St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum. Ten sisters weathered the storm attempting to save the orphaned children in their care. Tying children to their own bodies in a futile effort to keep them together, all 10 sisters and 90 children were lost to the storm. Only three young boys survived in a tree to then tell the tale of their heroism.


Texas A&M Agrilife Extension 

Wikipedia/Hurricane Rita