October 15-16, 1987
“87J” was the worst storm to hit England in nearly 300 years, bringing widespread damage to northern France and southern England, and leaving almost 2 million without power. What took nature years or even centuries to create was destroyed in a relative instant when wind gusts of up to 134 mph felled 25 million trees, including 6 of the 7 eponymous oaks commemorating King Edward VII’s coronation in the town of Sevenoaks. If 87J occurred today, total insured losses across Europe would range from £4 to 7 billion (US$8 to 14.5 billion).
October 15-18, 1954
On the morning of October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall as a Category 4 storm along the North Carolina-South Carolina border, bringing winds as strong as 150 mph. Fourteen hours later, Hazel had traveled an astounding 850 miles north, inflicting Toronto, Canada with record flooding and Category 1 strength winds. At times, this hurricane moved at 60 mph speeds, making it one of the fastest-traveling storms in history. If you were to travel by car, at highway speeds, from Wilmington, NC to Toronto, Hazel may have passed you.
Cholera claimed the lives of more than 600 and the mortality rate climbed to 13% in some parts of London during Soho’s 1854 epidemic. Area resident Dr. John Snow tracked the outbreak back to its source—sewage-contaminated water from the Broad Street pump—by interviewing his neighbors and plotting the pattern of disease on a simple map. And by noting that all 70 workers at a nearby brewery, who reportedly drank nothing but beer, were cholera-free. By isolating the origins of both the epidemic and the disease, he not only helped to end the spread of cholera in England, he founded modern epidemiology. What’s the latest Life & Health revolution?