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In the Classroom > Picturing America Lessons > American Migrations

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Facts about Hurricane Katrina and the 1930's Dust Storms

Hurricane Katrina

Excerpts from "11 Facts about Hurricane Katrina"

705 people are reported as still missing as a result of hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina affected over 15 million people in different factors such as economy, evacuations, gas prices or drinking water.

The final death toll was at 1,836, primarily from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238).

Hurricane Katrina caused $81 billion in property damages, but it is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 billion, earning the title of costliest hurricane ever in US history.

Hurricane Katrina impacted about 90,000 square miles.

The region affected by the storm supported roughly 1 million non-farm jobs, and still, hundreds of thousands of local residents were left unemployed by the hurricane.

More than 70 countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance after the hurricane. Kuwait made the largest single pledge of $500 million, but Qatar, India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh made very large donations as well.


The 1930's Dust Storms

Excerpts from "10 Things You May Not Know About the Dust Bowl"

The swirling dust proved deadly. Those who inhaled the airborne prairie dust suffered coughing spasms, shortness of breath, asthma, bronchitis and influenza. Much like miners, Dust Bowl residents exhibited signs of silicosis from breathing in the extremely fine silt particulates, which had high silica content. Dust pneumonia, called the "brown plague," killed hundreds and was particularly lethal for infants, children and the elderly.

Most farm families did not flee the Dust Bowl. John Steinbeck's story of migrating tenant farmers in his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 novel, "The Grapes of Wrath," tends to obscure the fact that upwards of three-quarters of farmers in the Dust Bowl stayed put. Most Dust Bowl refugees tended to move only to neighboring states.


Excerpts from "Dust Bowl Facts"

More than one million acres of land were affected during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Thousands of farmers lost their property as well as their livelihoods. Many of the down-on-their-luck farmers migrated to the country's urban centers looking for work and a fresh start. In some cases, three and four generations of family members moved across the country together looking for food, shelter and work. But with 25 percent unemployment at some points during the Great Depression, the chances of finding work were slim.

During the Dust Bowl, some 200,000 migrants* moved to California, most destitute and jobless. The former farmers and their families' presence simply added to cities' unemployment problems. Because the influx of farmers stressed relief programs, strife was created in many areas where migrants had set up shantytowns called "Hoovervilles."

New Deal programs included five major farm laws designed to get farmers back on their feet. Many of these programs are still in existence today. The laws included the Agricultural Adjustment Act, Civilian Conservation Corps, Farm Security Administration, Soil Conservation Services and Rural Electrification Act.


*This figure is disputed. Some claim it should be much lower while others place it even higher.

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