The elements can play havoc at any time – any place, and in one brief period our lives can change irrevocably. We are shocked at the ferocity of the 8.9 earth quake and resulting tsunami that changed lives in everyday Japan this week. We can relate to the faces of the survivors in Tokyo as they view the recent destruction. They have haunted us since Katrina and after the manmade catastrophe of 9/11. History is altered by the occasion of one storm, one typhoon, one hurricane.
The library contains the stories of many of those occasions. Big storms seem to dominatethis “catastrophe” writing. Those that stand out are: Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson and Roar of the Heavens by Stefan Bechtel. Both of these authors are great story tellers and hold our attention as we pull our selves through flooding muck or watch buildings float away.
In his book Larson covers the ineptitude of the Nation Weather Service and its eventual reorganization as his protagonist views the horror of Galveston, Texas’s 1900 hurricane. Of local interest is Bechtel’s Roar of the Heavens about Hurricane Camille. He brings the storm to us from its inception in the Caribbean and correlates it with another life changing event, Woodstock, which was
influenced by Camille’s torrential rains. Everyday Nelson County daily affairs are juxtaposed against a horrible destructive night.
Natural disasters cannot be controlled. Is that what fascinates us about them? Is it that we want to understand the horror they bring?
Below are other books about natural disasters.
John Casey. Spartina
Sebastian Junger. The Perfect Storm: a True Story of Men against the Sea
Chris Rose. 1 Dead in the Attic