Tags: New | Orleans | Can | Rebound | Other | Cities | Have

New Orleans Can Rebound as Other Cities Have

Thursday, 01 September 2005 12:00 AM

Here is a look at four large-scale disasters – and recoveries – in American cities:

The fire killed around 300 people, destroyed 18,000 buildings and left 100,000 residents without homes. Only half of the city had home insurance.

Smallpox and cholera quickly spread. Looting and other crimes became so rampant that martial law was declared and Civil War hero Lt. Gen. Philip Sheridan led in troops to restore order.

But the Chicago stockyards had been spared, as had much of the city's industrial areas. Within days of the fire, city leaders journeyed to New York to convince businessmen to invest in the reconstruction.

By the end of the decade, Chicago was bigger than before the fire, with its population climbing from 300,000 to half a million by 1880.

Drinking water was scarce. Looters roamed the streets, and the mayor ordered them to be shot on sight.

But just five days after the quake, California Gov. George Pardee announced that the reconstruction had begun.

Private citizens from around the U.S. pledged $10 million in aid, the federal government chipped in $2.5 million and Japan and Canada contributed aid.

Engineers and contractors were brought in from other parts of the country. Some labor unions did their part by banning overtime so that the unemployed could find work, and others volunteered their services for free.

By July, hundreds of buildings were under construction.

A wall of water up to 60 feet high crashed down a narrow valley at 40 miles per hour, filled with huge chunks of debris, leveling everything in its path.

More than 2,200 were killed, hundreds were missing and thousands more were injured.

Among the first to arrive in the devastated city were 55 undertakers. Clara Barton and five Red Cross workers came from Washington to help the 25,000 survivors – the organization's first major peacetime relief effort.

Money and food poured in from around the country. Tents served as dining halls. The state militia kept order. The Pennsylvania Railroad rebuilt 20 miles of track in two weeks.

On June 9, the city's largest employer, the Cambria Iron Works, announced that it would remain in Johnstown and rebuild.

The city regained its population and while it took five years, Johnstown fully recovered.

Homes were smashed into splinters. About 3,600 buildings were destroyed, and 8,000 of the city's 37,500 residents were killed, along with 2,000 on the mainland, making the Galveston hurricane the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

But city leaders and businesses opted to rebuild the city, whose port handled 70 percent of the American cotton crop.

By 1904, the Army Corps of Engineers had built a seawall that now stretches more than 10 miles and stands 17 feet high.

The engineers put every house on the Gulf side of the island on stilts and pumped wet sand underneath to raise the city, which had been less than nine feet above sea level before the storm.

When another storm thought to be as strong or even stronger than the 1900 hurricane struck Galveston in 1915, the seawall and the elevated ground level kept the death toll, 275, well below the previous tally.

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Here is a look at four large-scale disasters - and recoveries - in American cities: The fire killed around 300 people, destroyed 18,000 buildings and left 100,000 residents without homes. Only half of the city had home insurance. Smallpox and cholera quickly spread....
New,Orleans,Can,Rebound,Other,Cities,Have
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2005-00-01
Thursday, 01 September 2005 12:00 AM
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