Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lee A. Opheim


This study takes an in-depth look at the various kinds of natural disasters that have affected one small piece of the world and their changing impact over the last century. The site chosen for this research is Brookings County, located in east-central South Dakota. Though occupying only· a minute speck of the earth's 196,940,400 square-mile surface, it has been the recipient of many violent acts of nature. In order to begin the investigation, it was necessary to identify those hazards common to Brookings County. The county is extremely fortunate that it does not need to contend with the problems of hurricanes, volcanoes, tidal waves, avalanches, or earthquakes. The natural disasters which affect Brookings County tend to be directly related only to the weather, and though they may not seem as phenomenal as those previously mentioned, the consequences of their presence over the years have been no less dramatic. Not every natural hazard has resulted in a disaster, so the next task in completing this study was to determine which incidents produced heavy damage and/or loss of life in the county. This was accomplished by obtaining dates of hazardous events in this part of South Dakota from Climatological Data South Dakota, Climatological Data National Summary, Storm Data, and historical accounts of the state and county. With a composite list of dates as a guide, county newspapers were then explored to determine the extent of each disaster within the county, the amount of damage inflicted, and the steps taken to recover. In searching through miles of microfilm, several natural disasters were discovered that had not been recorded in any of the aforementioned sources. Therefore, this study makes no claim to have identified every single natural disaster which has occurred in Brookings County, but the author feels that sufficient data was obtained to demonstrate that natural hazards did indeed produce more disasters as time passed during the last century.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Natural disasters -- South Dakota -- Brookings County



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University