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Natural disasters are terrible: terrible to endure, terrible to remember, even terrible to read about. In the United States, brave souls have suffered through wildfires, floods, landslides, some horrific tornadoes, the Chicago fire, and even the 1964 Alaskan tsunami that followed the strongest earthquake to hit the North American continent (8.4). But nothing compares to the recent rash of hurricanes that have plagued the South and Southeast, capped by last year’s Katrina. Until then, the mother of all natural disasters had been the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The 100th anniversary of that quake occurs this month, on April 18.

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