Natural Disasters

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Natural Disasters - 24 Intense Films

Selected by film archivists from the National Archives vast motion picture holdings, Natural Disasters chronicles some of the world’s most devastating earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, and volcanoes—random acts of nature that have altered the world’s economy, threatened and disrupted millions of earth’s inhabitants, cost thousands of human lives, and at times changed the course of history. Also recounted are the heroic efforts of relief workers to return cities to normal and the attempts of local governments to better prepare for future events.

Included among the gripping documentaries are:

Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989), an examination of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake that destroyed the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Cypress Street Viaduct and disrupted the World Series.

Day of the Killer Tornadoes (1978), the story of 147 deadly tornadoes that swept across Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, and other states in a 24-hour period.

A Hurricane Called Betsy (1966), which recounts Hurricane Betsy’s 3,000-mile trip from the Caribbean through the Bahamas, Miami, the Florida Keys, and along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Eruption of Mt. St. Helens (1980–81), featuring reenactments, personal recollections, and narration of the historic eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936), a classic film about the Dust Bowl that includes a climactic dust storm sequence in which day suddenly becomes night and the landscape changes from moment to moment.
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