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The Love Canal Controversy

The Love Canal Controversy

The Love Canal Controversy: Environmental Disaster that Shocked America

The Love Canal, a small canal in the town of Niagara Falls, New York, became synonymous with environmental disaster in the late 1970s. It was the site of one of the most terrible occurrences of toxic contamination in US history. The history of the Love Canal disaster is a cautionary tale of corporate greed, government negligence, and environmental damage that has had far-reaching consequences. This article will explore the Love Canal controversy in-depth, and provide an updated perspective on the disaster using government resources.

The Love Canal: A Brief History

The Love Canal was created as part of a hydroelectric project by William T. Love in 1892. Its purpose was to provide water and hydroelectric power to the surrounding area. However, the project failed due to financial difficulties, and in 1900, the Hooker Chemical Company purchased the land.

Hooker Chemical Company used the Love Canal area as a disposal site for chemical waste from 1942 to 1953. Nearly 22,000 tons of hazardous waste material was dumped in the canal and surrounding areas during that period. The site was chosen because it was considered a waste area that would never be developed.

Hooker Chemical Company covered the landfill with a thick layer of clay before selling the property to the Niagara Falls School Board for $1 in 1953. The company claimed that the waste was safely contained and would cause no harm. The landfill was partially filled with soil, and the area was turned into a residential neighborhood.

The Disaster Unfolds

In the 1970s, many Love Canal residents reported unusual health problems, including headaches, rashes, and respiratory illnesses. They also noticed a strange chemical odor coming from the canal and surrounding areas. They knew something was wrong, but they had no idea what was causing it.

In 1978, New York State health officials began to investigate the area after residents demanded something be done. The investigation revealed that the Love Canal was leaking toxic chemicals into the ground and groundwater, which was making its way into nearby basements and homes. Some of the chemicals that were detected included dioxin, benzene, and trichloroethylene, all known to cause cancer and other illnesses.

The situation was so dire that President Jimmy Carter declared a federal state of emergency on August 7, 1978. The declaration led to the relocation of more than 800 families and the eventual cleanup of the site. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Love Canal disaster was one of the most serious environmental disasters in American history.

The Aftermath

The Love Canal disaster opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of toxic waste and the need for stricter regulations. It also gave birth to the Superfund program, a federal government initiative to help clean up hazardous waste sites across the United States.

The Hooker Chemical Company was held responsible for the cleanup costs, which exceeded $400 million, and was forced to pay the state of New York $129 million for damages. Hooker Chemical Company was also held liable for a class-action lawsuit brought on by Love Canal residents and paid $20 million in damages to affected residents.

Updated Information on the Love Canal Disaster

Since the Love Canal disaster, much has been done to contain and clean up the area. According to the EPA, the Love Canal site is now a “Superfund” site, which means it is a location that requires action to address environmental contamination. The area remains monitored by the EPA, and work is ongoing to prevent further contamination of the canal and surrounding neighborhoods.

The Love Canal disaster also led to significant legislative changes. One of the most noteworthy was the creation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1980. The act allowed the federal government to hold polluters accountable for environmental damage and hazardous waste cleanup costs.

The Love Canal disaster had far-reaching consequences that are still felt today. It led to stricter environmental regulations, increased public awareness of toxic waste issues, and the establishment of programs to help clean up hazardous waste sites. The lessons learned from the Love Canal tragedy continue to influence environmental policy in the United States and around the world.


The Love Canal disaster was a dark chapter in American history. It exposed the devastating effects of corporate greed, government negligence and its impact on human health. Today, the Love Canal serves as a painful reminder of what happens when toxic waste is not properly managed. The disaster had significant consequences, and while much has been done to remedy the situation, it remains an ongoing challenge that requires ongoing work.

The Love Canal disaster should serve as a call to action for individuals, companies, and governments to take responsibility for environmental stewardship. We must hold our elected officials accountable for enforcing environmental regulations and ensuring that contaminants are kept out of our communities.

In conclusion, the Love Canal controversy should serve as a warning that we need to take care of our planet and protect it from toxic waste and hazardous materials. We need to work together to create a sustainable future and ensure that tragedies like the Love Canal disaster are never repeated again.

A certain class of refugee would bridge the gap between something that is man-made and something that is an uninhabitable disaster worthy of refugee relief. The Love Canal Controversy is the perfect argument for this function. Love Canal, a subset within Niagara Falls, New York, was intended as a model community and hospitable home for its residents, but belying its cute name, it was really a toxic waste dump disguised as a town.

The initial plans for the municipality called for the development of groups of houses and parks that would stand as shining examples of a residential community as well as the namesake canal before Mr. William Love, the developer, ran out of funding and the site became a chemical dump. In time, though, the Niagara Falls population began to expand, and in need to acquire land, residential officials bought the ground above the site, despite the possibility of toxic chemicals underneath. Upon discovery of numerous health defects and positive tests for toxins, the site was declared to be in state of emergency, and evacuation of all resident was ordered.

The move to help refugees then, in this case, was to evacuate the town and contain the extent of the contamination. Refugee relief came in the form of state and government funds used to reimburse the town residents and help refugees of Love Canal. The Love Canal fiasco, aside from being an environmental health and policy planning wake-up call, also set the precedent for the declaration of an environmental disaster area and expanded the idea that environmental causes could be used to determine refugee status in the public consciousness.

Refugees of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

Refugees of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

Refugees of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906: A Tragic Turn in American History

In the early hours of April 18, 1906, residents of San Francisco were jolted awake by a massive earthquake that shook the entire city. The earthquake, which was followed by a series of fires, destroyed more than 28,000 buildings, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless and causing massive destruction to one of the most prominent cities in America.

The San Francisco earthquake was one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters in American history. While the exact number of casualties remains uncertain, it is estimated that between 700 and 3,000 people lost their lives. The quake and the arson fires that followed also caused an estimated $400 million in damages, or roughly $10 billion in today’s dollars. As a result, the San Francisco earthquake forced thousands of refugees to flee the city and left indelible marks on American history.

The Initial Impact of the Earthquake

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 struck at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, and lasted for only 48 seconds. The initial shock had a magnitude of approximately 7.8 on the Richter scale. It was followed by a series of tremors and aftershocks that continued for several weeks. The earthquake was caused by the sudden release of stress that had built up along the San Andreas fault, one of the longest and most active fault lines in the world.

The earthquake itself was devastating, but it was the fires that followed that inflicted the most significant damage to San Francisco. The city’s water mains and gas pipes were broken during the tremors, making it almost impossible to fight the rapidly spreading blazes. As a result, fires consumed large portions of the city, forcing residents to flee for their lives.

Refugees of the San Francisco Earthquake

As the fires spread across the city, panicked residents scrambled to save themselves and their loved ones. Many abandoned their homes, businesses, and belongings and fled into the streets, hoping to escape the flames.

The refugees of the San Francisco earthquake were incredibly diverse. Some were wealthy citizens who had been displaced from their luxurious homes, while others were working-class families who had lost everything they owned. Many were immigrants who had come to San Francisco seeking a better life, only to find themselves homeless and destitute.

The refugees faced significant challenges, including a lack of food, water, and shelter. The few remaining buildings were overcrowded, and makeshift tent cities sprang up in parks and other open spaces. Disease and illness were rampant due to the unsanitary conditions, and many refugees suffered from injuries sustained in the earthquake itself. As a result, the city’s hospitals were overwhelmed, and many medical personnel were forced to work around the clock.

The Role of the U.S. Government

In the days and weeks following the San Francisco earthquake, the U.S. government played a significant role in supporting the refugees. President Theodore Roosevelt declared a state of emergency, and the Army was brought in to restore order and provide assistance. The government also established a number of relief organizations, including the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to provide food, shelter, and medical care to the refugees.

The government’s response was not without controversy, however. Many refugees complained that the relief efforts were slow and inadequate, and that the government had not done enough to prevent fires and provide aid. Some residents even accused the government of using the earthquake as an excuse to seize land and property from citizens.

A Legacy of Resilience

Despite the challenges, the refugees of the San Francisco earthquake showed remarkable resilience and resourcefulness. Many banded together to help each other, forming mutual aid societies and other organizations to provide assistance and support. Others worked to rebuild the city, taking advantage of the opportunity to create a new and better San Francisco.

Today, San Francisco is a thriving metropolis that attracts millions of visitors every year. The city’s skyline is dominated by towering skyscrapers and iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. The refugees of the San Francisco earthquake played a significant role in the city’s history, and their legacy lives on in the vibrant, diverse, and resilient culture of San Francisco today.

Updated Information

In recent years, the U.S. government has focused on improving its ability to respond to natural disasters like the San Francisco earthquake. FEMA’s role has expanded considerably since the 1906 earthquake, and the organization now provides assistance to communities affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters. In 2017, FEMA responded to several major disasters, including hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which caused extensive damage to the Southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean.

In addition to FEMA, other organizations have emerged in recent years to support disaster relief efforts. The International Medical Corps, for example, is a humanitarian organization that deploys medical teams and supplies to disaster-affected areas around the world. The organization has been involved in relief efforts following earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, as well as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.


The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a tragic event that left a lasting mark on American history. The refugees who fled the city faced unimaginable challenges, but they showed remarkable resilience and resourcefulness. Their legacy lives on in the vibrant, diverse, and resilient culture of San Francisco today.

While the U.S. government’s response to the San Francisco earthquake was not perfect, the disaster did lead to significant improvements in the way the country handles natural disasters. Organizations like FEMA and the American Red Cross continue to play an essential role in supporting communities affected by disasters, and new organizations like the International Medical Corps have emerged to provide aid to those in need around the world.

In conclusion, the refugees of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 deserve to be remembered and honored for their bravery and resilience. Their stories remind us of the power of human kindness and compassion, and inspire us to work towards a world in which no one is left behind in times of crisis.

Certain landmark natural disasterrefugeesHurricane Katrina Other times, though, the events of a natural disaster will set a nation or territory back, and ultimately, cause it to lose out on opportunities to grow in comparison to another entity. The city of San Francisco suffered this fate when it came to the earthquake of 1906, one of the deadliest natural disasters in American history, and the greatest loss of life based on a natural disaster in Californian history.

The earthquake, a seismic event occurring along the San Andreas Fault, was of a magnitude over seven, and was particularly damaging for the fact that so many fires erupted from ignition of the broken gas lines, and even more were created by the attempts of firefighters to use dynamite to level buildings (ironically, to try to control the string of flammable material) and the absence of needed water conduits after ruptures in the mains. Over three quarters of the city was effectively destroyed, and obviously, there is the aforementioned casualty rate to consider, but perhaps the greatest loss of the city was in terms of long-term economics.

The percentage of displaced refugees, who were in fact evacuees, from the 1906 earthquake comprised more than fifty percent of the city, and given the choice, a good deal of those displaced refugee evacuees relocated to other California cities.

In addition, displaced refugee housing was put up subsequent to the extinction of the fires by the Army, providing refugee for tens of thousands of displaced refugees. To bring the point back, though, the damage had been done to San Francisco, literally and figuratively. With the displaced refugee efflux from the ruins of the city, its livelihood and growth was stunted. To be sure, it would have to take a few steps backward to rebuild and move forward. In the interim, and despite the fact the city has recovered to developed an image that gives off vibes of cultural significance, it would be Los Angeles that would become the center of commerce in the West.

However, the silver lining of the story is that San Francisco was rebuilt fairly quickly after the quake, and while there were so many displaced refugees from the utter destruction of the buildings, the idea that the federal government would come to the aid of its displaced refugee citizens with subsidized housing was vaguely progressive in spite of being a relief effort. Plus, even if Los Angeles ascended to great heights in the unofficial race to be the biggest city, the earthquake proverbially washed away San Francisco’s corruption and essentially started it with a clean slate.

Future of Refugees After a Natural Disaster

Future of Refugees After a Natural Disaster


Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and earthquakes often leave catastrophic destruction in their wake. Such disasters often result in significant loss of life, displacement, and damage to property and infrastructure. These consequences can be particularly severe for refugees, who are already forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution, or other circumstances. With the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, it is essential to consider the future of refugees in these situations. In this article, we will explore the current state of refugee assistance after natural disasters and consider some potential solutions to improve the outcomes for these vulnerable populations.

The Current State of Refugee Assistance After Natural Disasters

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were over 82 million forcibly displaced people worldwide as of mid-2020. Many of these individuals are refugees who have fled their homes due to conflict or persecution in their home countries. In addition to these challenges, refugees face additional difficulties when they are impacted by natural disasters.

One of the primary challenges for refugees after a natural disaster is displacement. Natural disasters can cause significant damage to homes, infrastructure, and entire communities. As a result, many refugees are forced to flee these areas, often without any warning or knowledge of where they will go. This displacement can be particularly traumatic for individuals who have already experienced similar traumatic events in their home countries.

Another critical challenge for refugees in the aftermath of natural disasters is access to basic needs such as shelter, food, and water. Natural disasters can disrupt supply chains and damage infrastructure, which can lead to shortages of essential resources. For refugees who are already living in difficult conditions, these challenges can be particularly acute.

Challenges Facing Refugee Children After Natural Disasters

Refugee children are among the most vulnerable populations in the aftermath of natural disasters. According to the UNHCR, there were over 30 million children living in displacement at the end of 2020. These children face various challenges, including:

1. Displacement and separation from their families: Natural disasters can cause families to be separated, and children may become displaced without their parents or other family members.

2. Loss of education and development opportunities: Natural disasters can disrupt education and other opportunities for children to develop socially and emotionally.

3. Trauma: Children who have already experienced trauma in their home countries may be particularly vulnerable to the added trauma of a natural disaster.

4. Health risks: Natural disasters can lead to increased health risks for children, including exposure to disease and poor living conditions.

Potential Solutions

Despite the challenges that refugees face after natural disasters, there are several potential solutions to improve outcomes for these vulnerable populations. Some possible solutions include:

1. Preparing communities for disasters: One of the most effective ways to help refugees after natural disasters is to prepare communities before they happen. This can include creating emergency plans, building infrastructure that can withstand disasters, and providing access to information about hazards and evacuation procedures.

2. Providing basic needs: Ensuring that refugees have access to essential resources such as shelter, food, and water can help mitigate the impact of natural disasters. This can be done by improving supply chain management, providing aid packages, and creating temporary housing solutions.

3. Addressing mental health needs: Many refugees may experience trauma, anxiety, and other mental health challenges after natural disasters. Providing access to mental health services can help support these individuals and address the long-term impacts of trauma.

4. Ensuring access to education: Education is critical for refugee children, and natural disasters can disrupt their access to schooling. Ensuring that children have access to education and other development opportunities can help mitigate the impact of these events on their long-term well-being.


Natural disasters will continue to impact vulnerable populations across the globe, including refugees. While these events can be devastating, there are several potential solutions that can help mitigate the impact of these events. By preparing communities, providing access to basic needs, addressing mental health needs, and ensuring access to education, we can help support refugees in the aftermath of natural disasters. With the increasing frequency and severity of these events, it is essential to address these challenges to ensure that refugees are not left behind.

With many natural disasterspropertyThis kind of refugee news may well be in our future, and in increasingly more frequent intervals, as a result of man’s hand in the shaping of the world environment. Scientific researchers, in tandem with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – the UNHCR

Still, while the UNHCR has full recognition of the gravity of these problems, it still has no formal recognition of the environmental or climate refugee. News that comes from the UNHCR  concerning refugees almost uniformly corresponds to those who have been estranged from their countries as a result of war or other form of political unrest.

Thus, while the UNHCR might be a valid way to obtain refugee news as a result of United Nations protocol, it is not a means of helping displaced people who are likewise forcibly removed from their homes. Considering how many people this currently affects and how trends may continue to be exacerbated, environmental climate change refugee status is something important enough that it would be a good measure with which to be more specific. By being an unclassified displaced person today, unfortunately, an individual may not even qualify for legal status as a resident between different governments. Either UNHCR must revise its terms, or the application for human aid may come too late to those who need it.

What to Do With Natural Disaster Refugees

What to Do With Natural Disaster Refugees


Natural disasters are a common occurrence in various parts of the world. These disasters can range from floods, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires, among others. The effect of such events is disastrous and can lead to loss of life and property damage. People affected by natural disasters often become homeless, lose their livelihoods, and become refugees. Natural disasters have profound effects on the survivors’ wellbeing and their long-term livelihoods, particularly children and vulnerable groups.

In 2020, over 200 natural disasters occurred globally, affecting over 120 million people. In America alone, severe storms, hurricanes, and flooding affected more than 14 million people and resulted in numerous casualties. Consequently, policymakers face a daunting task of accommodating natural disaster refugees. This article explores some of the recommended strategies for accommodating disaster refugees.

Temporary Housing

The primary concern for natural disaster refugees is shelter. Providing temporary housing is the most immediate solution. Temporary shelters should be built in safe areas, free from potential risks such as land movement, floods, and other hazards. The government should identify public and private buildings, including schools, libraries, and community centers, that can provide temporary housing. The shelters’ layout should follow social distancing protocols, and occupants should have access to sanitation facilities to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks.

Such measures have been implemented in various countries, including America. Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided temporary housing for the affected population. Similarly, during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, FEMA coordinated temporary housing with state and local authorities to accommodate the affected populations.

Land Identification

After the disaster, people are often forced to move to new areas, as their previous settlement areas become inhabitable. The government must identify vacant land suitable for community resettlement and provide the necessary resources to support the relocation process. It is essential to ensure that the land is located in accessible and safe areas, where people can earn a livelihood.

During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the government identified vacant land suitable for resettlement. However, the process was flawed due to a lack of proper structures and financing. Consequently, the resettled population faced challenges in accessing water, sanitation, and energy.

Community-based planning

Community-based planning is crucial in natural disaster resettlement processes. The resettled population must have a say in the decision-making process, particularly in building structures and infrastructure. Community-based planning promotes community participation, which enhances sustainability and promotes the affected population’s welfare.

Community-based planning has been successfully implemented in various disaster-prone areas worldwide. For instance, following the 2007 floods in Bangladesh, the government of Bangladesh introduced community-based planning. The process involved consultation with affected communities and ensured that the affected population was at the center of decision-making.

Job Placement

Natural disasters often result in occupational disruption for the affected population. Ensuring that the affected population has employment is essential to their long-term welfare. The government should establish job-placement programs that provide job opportunities for refugees. Moreover, initiatives such as skills training in marketable skills can help refugees become self-sufficient.

During the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, the Department of Labor in America established work-placement programs for affected populations. The program enabled displaced individuals to acquire new skills or retrain in their existing field.


Natural disasters can lead to a high prevalence of diseases. The affected population is often susceptible to diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and malaria due to inadequate sanitation. The government should provide adequate healthcare facilities to promote the health of disaster refugees. Healthcare services such as check-ups, disease prevention campaigns, and vaccinations should be made available to the affected population.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of healthcare in emergencies. Governments worldwide provided healthcare to populations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In America, the government established Covid-19 clinics to cater to populations affected by the virus.


Natural disasters often result in the closure of schools, affecting the children’s education. The government should provide adequate funding to education programs to cater to the affected population. Moreover, authorities should establish alternative education programs such as online education and distance learning.

In Puerto Rico, following Hurricane Maria, the Department of Education established an online education program to cater to affected students. The program enabled students to continue with their education despite the disaster.


Natural disasters have severe socio-economic effects on the affected population, and policymakers should develop strategies to mitigate these effects. Temporary housing, land identification, community-based planning, job placement, healthcare, and education are some of the key strategies to accommodate natural disaster refugees. However, these strategies are not exhaustive, and policymakers should ensure that they cater to the affected population’s needs fully. Finally, investing in structural resilience can reduce the recurrence of such events, thus reducing the need for disaster resettlement processes.

Often times, with an earthquake or other natural disaster, the majority of the damage will be assumed to be with the initial force of the main event, as it was with the recent earthquake that devastated the city of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas in a matter of minutes, perhaps even seconds for some of the more structurally deficient buildings.

However, as was the case of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and even the Indian Ocean earthquake of 2005, the initial earthquake may have been the precipitating phenomenon for the destruction that ensued, but the bulk of the damage was incurred through collateral means and may even better recall the event to future generations. In terms of the latter, the whole chain of events was set in motion not by an earthquake above sea level (as the name “earthquake implies”) but the immense power of a 9.0-magnitude underwater earthquake that occurred on a fault off the coast of Indonesia in the Indian Ocean, which actually served to alter the rotation of the planet Earth as a whole.

This triggered a huge set of tsunami waves that was unable to be detected, owing to the unpredictability of earthquakes using current methods, the high population density of the impact zone and the fact a network to detect the tsunami waves was not viable given the poor economy of the region. All told, over 200,000 people died as a result of the quake-tsunami connection, and myriad others were forced to relocate as a result of the flooding.

As regards response to the refugees and lawful operations, the damage was so profound that even organizations who tend to more narrowly focus on political refugees, as people displaced by natural disasters are usually referred to by the term “displaced persons,” offered their services in relief efforts.

As for how to physically house the survivors of the tsunami, foreign governments and relief efforts alike phrased their relief efforts in terms of refugee status. The U.S. government radically altered its position on the acquisition of refugees and displaced persons, and Indonesia, Thailand and other countries saw the creation of refugee camps that provided aid and shelter for their nationals that worked in tandem with humanitarian organizations.

The Great Famine of Ireland was a stimulus for mass immigration to America in the 1850’s and 1860’s. The famine was in direct relation to the spread of potato blight across the potato crop in Ireland.

The effect on personal economies and human lives was exacerbated by an over dependence on the potato crop and the socioeconomic policies put in place. Ultimately, this dark period in Ireland’s history claimed over a million lives and put a tremendous dent in the indigenous Irish population. This loss of numbers in Ireland is further explained by strong emigration trends to the United States and elsewhere.

The effects of Irish refugee movement would also have enduring applications to today’s immigration law, as nativist reactions to these new settlers prompted reformers to establish quotas for immigrant groups and demanding minimum standards for literacy, effectively ending America’s “open door” policy on immigration.

While translations to the United States and immigration practices have yielded large numbers of legal and illegal Latin American immigrants to the country, it would be expected that asylum seekers, refugees and other displaced persons have contributed to the multicultural face of America in tangible ways.

In response to the Vargas Tragedy of 1999, then, Venezuelan nationals can be expected to make the pilgrimage to the “New World,” despite existing anti-American policies, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s rejection of American aid, and the attempts of the Venezuelan government to keep its citizens in the country. The Vargas Tragedy was a result of unusually high amounts of rainfall in a region already plagued by a tendency to flood, eventually giving way to mudslides that destroyed roads, buildings and other structures, in essence wiping out whole towns and displacing the majority of the state of Vargas.

President Chávez’s solution plan was indeed multifaceted. Included in his stratagem were permanent relocation to the interior of the country, temporary refugee camps erected by federal and relief services and even a unique means of protecting refugees, an “adoption” program by where able Venezuelan families could take in internally displaced victims for a time. Perhaps unfortunately, this call to arms for Venezuelans also involved a rejection of American aid in the form of the Armed Forces before they could arrive, illustrating the influence of politics on attitudes toward refugees.

The Love Canal Disaster and “Man-Made” Natural Refugees

The Love Canal disaster was, in fact, not a natural disaster per sé, as there was neither a massive loss of life nor were the events beyond human control. Problems arose when the original plans for a residential community with expansive parks and working canal were scrapped due to lack of funding, leaving the door open for local chemical companies to dump their waste in the unused site. Eventually, though, the need for the land was apparent, and despite toxicity levels in the ground beneath the community, schools and other residential functions were allowed to be built.

This led to serious health complications in a number of residents, and upon full realization of the gravity of the issue, the Love Canal site was put in a state of emergency by the President, the first disaster of an environmental nature to earn that dubious honor. The Love Canal disaster serves as another example of refugee status, at least in practical terms, within one’s own country, and paved the way for international recognition of environmental dangers as a catalyst for refugee migration.

Responses to the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 can be seen as reminiscent of the progressive spirit as it manifested in the United States and somewhat of a silver, or rather, golden lining for the city’s inhabitants. To be certain, San Francisco was hurt in the short term and long term in terms of material losses. Surely, the physical devastation of the city can not be ignored, as over two-thirds of the city succumbed to fires created in the wake of the initial 7.0-plus-magnitude earthquake along the San Andreas Fault.

Several thousands were killed by the quake and the fires, yet more were displaced by the carnage, and millions of dollars of damage was calculated to have been realized from the disaster. Moreover, as the city needed to be rebuilt, San Francisco was unable to continue to be a major factor in commerce on the West Coast for some time, redirecting business to Los Angeles and ensuring that the latter would be the premier destination in California. Still, for those who did not flee to nearby cities, there were hope and a new legacy to be found.

The U.S. government cared for its in-state refugees with the Army’s erection of makeshift (but structurally sound) refugee housing during the rebuilding process, evoking images of progressive reform to come. Furthermore, to San Francisco’s benefit, the rebuilding process allowed for a revival away from the corrupt influences of the local powers-that-be beforehand, and led to the formation of a new identity for the city as a place of cultural significance.

The tendency of most to regard natural disaster is to approach it by thinking only in terms of those dramatic events that occur within a moment’s notice and are obvious attention-grabbers and financial drains. Even so, some disasters, such as famine, take time to develop but may be just as deadly or affect just as many people. Such is the case with climate change and other environmental trends that lend themselves to be producers of large numbers of displaced persons. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR.