The Fury of Nature - Hurricanes and the Gulf Coast

Social Studies and Science, Grades 9-12

Using prior knowledge of natural disasters, students will interpret primary source footage and documents through analyzing the impact of Hurricane Beulah on the Gulf Coast. Students will further analyze natural disasters by comparing the effects and responses to Hurricane Beulah and Hurricane Katrina.

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  1. The following activity assumes that students have a basic understanding of extreme weather and natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, and floods. 
  2. Students should know that Texas’ diverse landscape is susceptible to many types of extreme weather. 
  3. Students should have a basic familiarity of both current and historical hurricane activity in the Gulf Coast. A basic working knowledge of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy is assumed.
OPTIONAL: Have students complete the Natural Disaster Frayer Model worksheet to engage their prior knowledge of natural disasters.
  1. Ask students to recount any experiences they have had with hurricanes or other major natural disasters. Ask questions that elicit details, such as: What did each student do to prepare for the event? Did the student stay in his home, or go somewhere else for shelter? How did the student and her family decide to what to do? What was the student’s experience before, during, and after the event? How did the student feel? 
  2. As a class, brainstorm the ways one prepares for a hurricane or other natural disaster. After creating the list, ask the students to think about how they know to do these things. Ask them to think critically about who has the knowledge of impending natural disasters, and what methods the community has for alerting and informing the population. Ideally, how should local, state, and federal resources respond before, during, and after the event?
  1. Students will watch three films showing the devastation caused by Hurricane Beulah
    1. Angry Waters -  Worst Flood in Texas History
    2. Floods - Hurricane Aftermath Kills 11 in Texas
    3. Mexican Refugees Return Home 
  2. Questions for discussion: have students respond to questions a and b with the instructor, and answer c and d on their own paper.
    1. Why do communities commonly flood after hurricanes? 
    2. How can flooding be prevented? 
    3. After viewing the film(s), what similarities do you see between this footage and scenes from Hurricane Katrina or another recent natural disaster? 
    4. What is the reaction of the children in the video? Why is this surprising? 
    5. How is the government responding to the aftermath of the hurricane? How is the community responding? 
    6. What is the importance and significance of emergency relief in disaster situations?
  3. Reading to understand:
    1. Have students read the following articles. The first article recounts local survivors of Hurricane Beulah, while the second describes the experiences of a man who lived through Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
      1. Nelsen, Aaron. [ "40 Years Later: Memories of Hurricane Beulah Still Vivid in Minds of Survivors." Brownsville Herald 16 Sept. 2007. 2 July 2009]  
      2. Homan, Michael. [ "One of the Millions of Hurricane Katrina Stories." Weblog post. Michael Homan. 5 Sept. 2005. 2 July 2009]. 
    2. Students will answer the following questions on their own for use with small group or class discussion:
      1. What was the most devastating part of the storm for the survivors of Hurricane Beulah? 
      2. How did the stories of people in Hurricane Beulah differ from one another? Who seemed to be the most affected by it? 
      3. What social factors explain why some people were greatly affected, and others were only mildly worried? 
      4. Provide three examples of how Hurricane Beulah and Hurricane Katrina were similar. 
      5. Provide three examples of how the two hurricanes were different. 
      6. After viewing the film and reading backgrounds about the survivors, how have reactions towards hurricanes changed in the past 50 years? 
      7. How did Hurricane Beulah directly affect hurricane response in Texas? 
      8. Why do disaster relief and recovery seem to take such a long time? How do you think Hurricane Katrina has affected the future of American response to a natural disaster? 
      9. How can the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina be prevented the next time a major storm threatens the United States?
US History Studies Since 1877
3C - Analyze social issues affecting women, minorities, children, immigrants, urbanization, the Social Gospel, and philanthropy of industrialists 
14A - Identify the effects of population growth and distribution on the physical environment 
29A - Use a variety of both primary and secondary valid sources to acquire information and to analyze and answer historical questions 
29C - Understand how historians interpret the past (historiography) and how their interpretations of history may change over time
World Geography
2A - Describe the human and physical characteristics of the same regions at different periods of time to evaluate relationships between past events and current conditions
3A - Explain weather conditions and climate in relation to annual changes in Earth-Sun relationships
3B - Describe the physical processes that affect the environments of regions, including weather, tectonic forces, erosion, and soil-building processes
8B - Describe the interaction between humans and the physical environment and analyze the consequences of extreme weather and other natural disasters such as El Niño, floods, tsunamis, and volcanoes
19B - Analyze ways technological innovations such as air conditioning and desalinization have allowed humans to adapt to places 
21A - Analyze and evaluate the validity and utility of multiple sources of geographic information such as primary and secondary sources, aerial photographs, and maps
United States Government
2A - Give examples of the processes used by individuals, political parties, interest groups, or the media to affect public policy 
8G - Explain the major responsibilities of the federal government for domestic and foreign policy such as national defense 
8H - Compare the structures, functions, and processes of national, state, and local governments in the U.S. federal system
Environmental Systems
3D - Evaluate the impact of research on scientific thought, society, and the environment 
5E - Analyze and evaluate the economic significance and interdependence of resources within the environmental system 
8A - Analyze and describe the effects on areas impacted by natural events such as tectonic movement, volcanic events, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, tsunamis, and population growth
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