It's upsetting to see the aftermath of a natural disaster. All too often, we see news about tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, and other forces of nature killing people, destroying homes, and devastating entire towns.
If you want to reach out and help, here are several ways to do so:
But what if you can't afford to make a donation? Helping doesn't have to mean spending money. Here are some other things you can do:
It's also important to deal with your own feelings when you see people hurt by tragedy. Talking to parents, teachers, and friends about what you see and how you feel can help you deal with the aftermath of disasters like storms and earthquakes.
If you go to school with kids from places that have been affected by disasters, reach out to them and offer support. They may have family members there.
Date reviewed: May 2013
FACTS ON FILE: SCIENCE ONLINE - Presents a broad range of scientific disciplines through extensive definitions, essays, diagrams, biographies, and experiments. If you're using this resources on your home computer, you'll have to enter your name, library card barcode, and PIN to begin.
EBSCOHost GreenFILE - A collection of scholarly, government and general-interest titles covering all aspects of human impact to the environment. Includes content on global warming, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more. If you're using this resource on your home computer, you'll have to enter your name, library card barcode, and PIN to begin.
Background on Weather & Climate - A quick look at the science and issues involved in major weather and climate topics, including climate change/global warming, hurricanes, wildfires and more. There is also a collection of interactives and simulations INTERACTIVE on weather, climate, atmospheric science and space weather education, and related learning resources ; High school and up. (2015, UCAR; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).
Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters - A chronological list of weather-related disasters occurring since 1980, with overall damages and costs of $1 billion or more at the time of the event. Includes a short paragraph describing each disaster. Updated through 2016. Also available in Printable PDF Report [Link opens a PDF]. Climatic Extremes and Weather Events is a collection of recent and archived U.S. weather data (such as amounts of precipitation, temperatures, and costs of damage) for various kinds of severe weather, including hurricanes, droughts, and tornadoes. See also Extreme Events. High school and up. (National Climatic Data Center)
Disaster: Know the Facts - This site for kids provides basic descriptions and Printable Fact Sheets for a variety of disasters; middle school and up (2013, FEMA). For more detailed information on the necessary steps to help prepare for and protect yourself before, during, and after a variety of natural disasters and weather emergencies, see Emergency Preparedness & Response NEW! ; high school and up. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Forces of Nature Interactive INTERACTIVE - Maps, photos, 3D animations and interactive features to help you learn about earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes through; for grades 6 - 12 (National Geographic Society). Nature Unleashed explores the science, history, and human impact of tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Includes an excellent photo gallery (2008, Field Museum). See also Shake, Rattle, and Slide. below.
Jetstream Online Weather School - Lessons about weather, arranged by subject. Covers the basics of large scale weather patterns, thunderstorms, lightning, tropical weather, and more; includes review quizzes for each topic. High school and up. (National Weather Service)
Natural Disasters in the News AUDIO VIDEO INTERACTIVE - In-depth, ongoing news coverage of current and recent disasters & their aftermath. Includes coverage of some past disasters, including the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011, and hurricanes Katrina & Sandy (Guardian News and Media Limited, UK; site includes advertisements). Times Topics: Disasters also provides ongoing news about disasters and their aftermath. Covers disasters in the U.S. and around the world, with a searchable archive of articles going back to 1981 (New York Times; site includes advertisements). See also Reuters: Natural Disasters (site includes advertisements), and IRIN: Environment & Disasters (United Nations). High school and up.
NOAA Education Resources - Portal for teaching & learning resources on topics including Climate and Weather & Atmosphere. Materials and activities are not grade specific but resources are labeled for grade appropriateness where applicable (2015, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Additional earth studies resources for teachers and students, grades K-6, may be found at USGS Primary Education Resources ; covers climate change, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanoes, wildfires, floods and more. For grades 7-12, see USGS Secondary Education Resources [NOTE: Use the left-hand menus to choose a topic.] (2015, U.S. Geological Survey). For more on Geology & Earth Science, see Science, Math & Technology: EARTH, GEOLOGY, ROCKS & MINERALS .
Owlie's Young Meteorologist Game INTERACTIVE - This game takes you on a severe weather preparedness adventure where you'll encounter lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and winter storms - all while learning about severe weather science and safety. For middle school students. (2012, National Weather Service and Planit Now)
Riding the Winds with Kalani: A Weather Adventure AUDIO - This site explains basic weather concepts, including earth movements, seasons, temperature, clouds, precipation, and more; for elementary school students. Treehouse Weather Kids AUDIO INTERACTIVE provides basic information on weather topics such as winds, moisture, air pressure, seasons, and storms; for middle school students. (2008 - 2009, University of Illinois Extension)
SciJinks: Weather VIDEO INTERACTIVE - This fun site teaches you about weather, hurricanes & storms, clouds, water, & ice, tides & oceans, atmosphere, seasons, and more; middle school and up (2016, NASA & NOAA). See also Web Weather for Kids. for elementary and middle school students (2013, UCAR; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).
Severe Weather - Questions and answers about tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, hurricanes, floods, winter weather and hail, plus related materials. For students and teachers, K-12 (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration; date unknown). Severe Weather & Natural Disasters offers online lessons about volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, winter storms and tornadoes. Includes information, experiments, eyewitness accounts and more. For middle school students. (2004, Scholastic Inc.; site includes advertisements)
Shake, Rattle, and Slide AUDIO INTERACTIVE - Designed to teach 5-8 year olds about how forces on and inside the earth work to shape our world, producing earthquakes, volcanoes and glaciers. Includes animations and learning activities (University of Illinois Extension; date unknown). Geology: Hazards provides an in-depth look at earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides - what they are, why & where they happen, how they are measured, and more. High school and advanced middle school students (2011, British Geological Survey). For more on Geology, Plate Tectonics, and related hazards, see also Science, Math & Technology: EARTH, GEOLOGY, ROCKS & MINERALS .
Weather vs. Climate - A brief overview of the difference between climate and weather. Middle school and up (2015, NASA & NOAA).
Weather Dude: Weather Basics for kids AUDIO - Lessons about the weather, chapter-by-chapter. with songs! Elementary & middle school (2014; by Weather Channel meteorologist Nick Walker).
Weather Guys (Why Files) [NOTE: Archived page] - Answers to common questions about the weather, such as What is Groundhog Day and do the forecasts work? What is the jet stream? Do abundant snowstorms suggest global warming is not occurring? Why do bridges ice before the road. and many others. (2010 - 2013, University of Wisconsin)
Weather Images [NOTE: Click on 'LARGE' under any image to see the full-size picture] - Photos and satellite images showing a wide variety of weather conditions (American Geosciences Institute; site includes advertisements). Earth Observatory provides images of recent disasters, seen from space (2015, NASA). 20 Striking Natural Disasters offers stunning photos of natural disasters which occurred over the past century, from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami (United Press International, Inc.; site includes advertisements).
Weather Satellites UPDATED LINK! VIDEO - Weather satellites produce images and data that are important for predicting where and when tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, ocean storm waves, and forest fires may strike. This site offers information about the different types of environmental satellites and how they work, as well as related Education Resources ; middle school and up (2016, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). See also SciJinks: Satellites and Technology ; middle school and up (2016, NASA & NOAA).
Weather Warehouse - 'Historical monthly weather data for over 18,000 current and former United States weather stations for every year that each station reported.' High school and up. (Weather Source, LLC)
Wild Weather Adventure! INTERACTIVE - 'Play the Wild Weather Adventure game. Your weather research blimp will explore Earth and its weather. With luck, skill, and strategy, you will race other weather research blimps to be first to travel all the way around the world and win the game. You can play with your friends or by yourself with a computer opponent.' Middle school and up. (2006, NASA)
Climate Change: A Student's Guide VIDEO - Explains the basics of climate and climate change, possible impacts of global warming, and actions individuals can take to slow global warming; for middle school students (2016, U.S. EPA). See also Climate Kids VIDEO INTERACTIVE (2016, NASA); middle school and up. For more advanced students, EPA's Climate Change page offers in-depth information and news (2016, U.S. EPA). Climate Change: How Do We Know? VIDEO INTERACTIVE examines the latest evidence, causes, and effects of global climate change. Includes graphs, diagrams, videos, and interactive quizzes; high school and up (2016, NASA). What We Know VIDEO offers several short videos of climate experts talking about climate change; high school and up (2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science).
Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science - Printable (PDF) guide explains the basic principles of climate science, the impacts of climate change, and approaches for adapting to and mitigating change. Also offers a summary of Key Findings on Climate Change from the third National Climate Assessment Report of 2014. High school and up (2014, U.S. Global Change Research Program, a government initiative which coordinates the climate research of thirteen federal departments and agencies).
Discovery of Global Warming / Climate Change UPDATED LINK! - 'A history of how scientists came to (partly) understand what people are doing to cause climate change.' This overview includes links to more detailed information. High school and up. (2008, Scientist/Author Spencer Weart and American Institute of Physics)
Explore Climate Change in Google Earth VIDEO [NOTE: To view maps in 3D you need the Google Earth Plugin] - 'Explore the potential impacts of climate change on our planet Earth and learn about solutions for adaptation and mitigation, in the context of the United Nation's Climate Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen.' Includes presentations by Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Greenpeace and others. (2012, Google)
Greenhouse VIDEO INTERACTIVE - A basic introduction to how and why our climate is changing (2016, NASA). Elementary and middle school.
Learn More About Climate VIDEO - A collection of short videos, lessons, and other resources & tools designed to increase your knowledge and understanding about climate change; mostly for high school and up. (2016, University of Colorado)
Teaching Climate VIDEO INTERACTIVE - Reviewed educational resources on climate and energy. You can browse resources by type or topic, or search by grade level. The same site also offers climate maps & data, climate news, and related resources; use the tabs to navigate. (2016, Climate.gov and National Science Digital Library)
Understanding Climate Change VIDEO - Answers to FAQ about the state of Earth's climate, impacts on the environment, and related information & news. Middle school and up. (2014 - 2016, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities)
Weather Extremes in a Changing Climate UPDATED LINK! - 'Devastating climate and weather-related events recorded in recent years have captured public interest. This brochure provides a sample of extreme events for the past decade (2001-2010). and reviews whether these extreme events are consistent with scientific assessments of climate.' High school and up. (2011, World Meteorological Organization)
Acid Rain - Explains what acid rain is, what causes it, why it is harmful, and possible solutions. Includes games and activities. Middle school and up. (2016, U.S. EPA)
Air Quality Index for Kids - Basic introduction to air pollution and health; for elementary and middle school students. (2016, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Avalanches - Basic snow avalanche facts, black & white photos. Middle school and up. (2012, National Snow and Ice Data Center)
Blizzards and Snowstorms - The history of blizzards and snowstorms in the U.S. invention of the snowplow, major blizzards of the 19th and 20th centuries, and more. Middle school and up (2012, National Snow and Ice Data Center). Elementary and middle school students, see How Do Blizzards Form? (2005, UCAR; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities) or Blizzards & Winter Weather (2013, UCAR). See also Extreme Cold and Wind Chill [Link opens a PDF] (2013, National Weather Service).
Clouds - Explains different types of clouds, how clouds form, and how they can affect our lives; for elementary and middle school students (2012, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).
Cryosphere - The term 'cryosphere' refers to those parts of the earth where water is in solid form, including snow cover, glaciers, icebergs, ice caps, ice sheets, seasonally frozen ground and perennially frozen ground (permafrost). This site offers 'a range of information about Earth's snow and ice, from comprehensive 'All About' sections to quick facts on popular snow and ice topics.' A page on the current State of the Cryosphere provides an overview of the status of snow, ice, and permafrost as indicators of climate change. Middle school and up (2015, National Snow and Ice Data Center). See also Glaciers. below.
Drought for Kids VIDEO - Explores the causes and effects of drought, plus maps, graphs, games, puzzles, and more; middle school and up (2010 - 2016, University of Nebraska). Drought: A Paleo Perspective focuses on the historic and economic aspects of drought. High school and up (2003, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration).
Earthquakes for Kids - Earthquake FAQs, history, science project ideas, recent earthquakes, photos, and more; middle school and up. The USGS also offers links to additional learning materials on earthquakes at the elementary, middle school, high school, and college levels. (2012 - 2016, U.S. Geological Survey)
El Niño & La Niña UPDATED LINK! VIDEO - Facts about El Niño and La Niña, including FAQs, impacts, current status and forecasts, with images & YouTube videos; high school and up (1998 - 2016, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration).
Fire: Wildfires, Weather & Climate - Explains what shapes a wildland fire, the smoke & toxins it produces, and the effects of climate change and people & development on wildfire risks; high school and up (2012, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities). Fire Wars INTERACTIVE looks at how firefighters battle wildfires. Includes the basics of combustion, specialized gear, glossary of fire terms, wildfire simulator, and more; high school and advanced middle school students (2002, PBS; site includes advertisements).
Floods & Flood Plains and Flood FAQs - Basic facts and information about floods; middle school and up (2001 - 2016, U.S. Geological Survey). For recent news on floods, see Times Topics: Floods VIDEO ; scroll past 'Chronology of Coverage' to get to the latest news (New York Times; site includes advertisements).
Glaciers - Tracks the birth, forward movement, and retreat of a glacier, or moving ice sheet; elementary school and up (National Snow and Ice Data Center; date unknown). See also Questions and Myths about Glaciers (2011 - 2016, U.S. Geological Survey). See also Cryosphere. above.
Heat: A Major Killer - This overview explains the impacts of excessive heat, how it affects human health & the economy, heat wave hazards, and heat wave safety. High school and up. (2013, National Weather Service)
Hurricanes - Explains how hurricanes form; for elementary & middle school students. There is also an alternate version of this page (2005 - 2013, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities). See also How Do Hurricanes Form? VIDEO (2016, NASA). For elementary and middle school students. Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclones offers information for high school and up (2013, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).
Landslides and Mudslides UPDATED LINK! - Briefly explains the causes of landslides and 'debris flows', areas at risk, possible health effects, and how to protect yourself. Includes links to more information. Middle school and up. (2014, U.S. Centers for Disease Control)
Monsoon Systems - An overview explaining what monsoons are, where they occur, and their impacts. High school and advanced middle school students. (2012, North Carolina State University)
Oil Spills - Find out about how spills happen, clean up methods, and environmental impact, and read about the Exxon Valdez spill and other large oil spills. Includes some experiments to try yourself! Elementary school and up (2016, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). See also Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010) and related links, below.
Sinkholes - Explains how sinkholes form, the different types of sinkholes, and where they can be found. Includes map, diagrams, and two photos. Middle school and up (2007 - 2016, U.S. Geological Survey). See also Sinkholes: When the ground collapses! [NOTE: Archived page] (2013; Whyfiles, University of Wisconsin)
Thunderstorms and Lightning - Explains how thunderstorms and lightning happen; for elementary and middle school students. There are alternate versions of these pages. (2005 - 2012, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities)
Tornadoes: WhyFiles VIDEO INTERACTIVE [NOTE: Archived page] - Explores the whys and hows of tornadoes, with lots of images. Click on the first snapshot to get started. For middle school and up (2014, University of Wisconsin). How Do Tornadoes Form? or the alternate version explains tornadoes and shows you how to make a Tornado! Suitable for elementary and middle school students (2005 - 2013, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of universities).
Tsunami Facts - Explains what a tsunami is, the physics of tsunamis, how tsunamis are measured, and more; high school and up (Commonwealth of Australia). See also Earthguide: Tsunami Basics ; middle school and up (2005, University of California) and More on Tsunamis (2011, University of Washington).
Volcano World - An extensive website on volcanoes; includes volcano news, images and video. Use the horizontal menu bar (Volcanoes, Learn More, Kids Only, FAQs, Glossary, etc.) to navigate. Age level varies (2015, Oregon State University). See also Volcano FAQ UPDATED LINK! [Link opens a PDF] and Volcano Hazards (2011 - 2016, U.S. Geological Survey). Earth Observatory: Volcanoes offers amazing satellite photos of active volcanoes from 2000 through the present (NASA).
Water Cycle - 'Earth's water is always in movement, and the water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth.' Choose a topic from the diagram or text links to learn more about the water cycle. Middle school and up (2004 - 2016, U.S. Geological Survey).
NOTE: For events which are more recent than Hurricane Sandy (or for other events not listed here), please see Natural Disasters in the News and related links, and Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters. above.
Chernobyl (1986) - In 1986, a major nuclear power accident occurred in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. This site gives a description of the accident and its consequences (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation).
Chicago Fire of 1871 - Illustrated essays describing the remarkable growth of Chicago in the decades preceding the fire, the fire itself, the immediate aftermath, rescue & relief efforts, and the subsequent reconstruction of the city. Click on any photo to see a larger version. Also includes eyewitness narratives and other special features. High school and up. (2011, Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University)
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010): Frontline VIDEO - A full-length video and background material on causes and consequences of the 2010 explosion aboard BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig & resulting massive oil spill (2011, Pro Publica and WGBH / PBS; site includes advertisements). Times Topics: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010) VIDEO has ongoing coverage about the 2010 Spill, including a searchable archive of commentary and articles. See also Gulf Coast Oil Disaster VIDEO (2011, CNN). High school and up. For general information about oil spills, see Oil Spills. above.
Haiti: Rebuilding Haiti NEW! INTERACTIVE - Four years after a terrible earthquake, where is Haiti's reconstruction? What happened to international aid? What is the housing situation? Education? Agriculture? To help you understand the situation, this in-depth multimedia interactive story offers you the experience of rebuilding Haiti. After reading about the on-site realities, you will have a chance to make decisions for the future of the country. What will your Haiti in 2020 look like? You will know at the end of the article, an end exclusively dependent on your choice. High school and up. (2014, The Pixel Hunt et al.; funded by the European Journalism Centre)
Hurricane Katrina: The Storm (2005) VIDEO - This video documentary explores the hurricane and its aftermath; includes related interviews, analysis, timeline, eyewitness accounts and more (2005, WGBH / PBS; site includes advertisements). For more first-hand accounts and images of Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, see Hurricane Memory Bank VIDEO (2005 - 2012, George Mason University et al.). For ongoing coverage about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, including a searchable archive of commentary and articles, see Times Topics: Hurricane Katrina (New York Times; site includes advertisements).
Hurricane Sandy (2012) VIDEO [NOTE: Type 'Sandy ' in the search box to find all resources] - Coverage of the hurricane / 'superstorm' that battered the mid-Atlantic U.S. in October 2012, causing massive flooding and damage (New York Times; site includes advertisements). For the latest news, see also Sandy Recovery (2015, Star-Ledger et al.; site includes advertisements). Sandy: New York devastation mapped provides an interactive map with additional photos of the destruction (2012, British Broadcasting Corporation).
Influenza Epidemic of 1918 - See Epidemics on our World History page.
Japan: Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis (2011) VIDEO - News article on the disaster in Japan, with links to videos, photos, and related articles (2011, New York Times; site includes advertisements). See also Japan's Nuclear Emergency VIDEO (2011, Washington Post; site includes advertisements). Japan Tsunami Cleanup VIDEO [Link opens a video] offers video footage of both the tsunami and cleanup efforts (United Nations Environment Programme). The Guardian's Japan Earthquake & Tsunami page provides ongoing coverage of the disaster and its aftermath (2016, Guardian News and Media Limited, UK; site includes advertisments).
Kanto Earthquake of 1923 - Description, newspaper articles, eyewitness accounts and photos of the destructive tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan in September of 1923. High school and up. (2005, Brown University)
London: Great Fire of 1666 UPDATED LINK! [Link opens a PDF] - Explores the causes and impacts of the fire that destroyed four-fifths of the city. Middle school and up. (Museum of London)
San Francisco: Faultline AUDIO [NOTE: Videos on this site are no longer available] - Background information on earthquakes, including causes, prediction, measurement, and damage control, plus a collection of first-hand accounts and photos of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1989 VIDEO (1999 - 2009, Exploratorium Museum of Science). All sites for high school and up.
Seattle Fire of 1889 - A description of the fire, plus 150 photographs. High school and up. (University of Washington)