To the editor:
In my opinion, Missouri has had far too many disasters for a mid-sized state in the heartland.
The recent tornadoes will long be remembered, dreaded and commemorated with even better storm preparedness and initiative to take cover when necessary.
These storms were of such catastrophic proportion that they will eclipse other tragedies that are part of our state’s history. Many Missourians do not know about the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812, even though they are often written about in science and history books. Two airplane crashes – one the result of a bomb – are just footnotes in modern Missouri history. The 1962 crash near the Iowa border involved sabotage; the 1973 crash at the St. Louis airport was apparently caused by lightning.
Some younger people have never heard of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency skywalk collapse in 1981, one of the worst disasters of that type in American history. Tornadoes and floods come and go, and there have been so many 100-year rains the last few decades that they are almost yearly or twice yearly events anymore.
Perhaps the worst and most overlooked disaster in the state’s history was not a tornado, earthquake or flood. I am referring to heat wave and drought during the long, hot summer of 1980, which killed scores of people (perhaps hundreds, as some deaths were indirectly blamed on the event), thousands of livestock, and millions of dollars worth of crops. We did learn from that disaster not to take heat lightly.
Yes, our state has suffered from lots of disasters, but we are a strong people, and we rebuild and carry on. But, too often, we forget and become complacent.