Nature's Wrath and Its Aftermath

No matter how far humanity has progressed since the days we rode out storms huddled in caves, terrified, nature still routinely reminds us that people, buildings and cities -- in fact, entire countries -- can be overwhelmed in an instant. See the Full Gallery at LIFE.

Home Sliding Into the Ocean During Hurricane Isabel, 2003

Home Sliding Into the Ocean During Hurricane Isabel, 2003

LIFE/PAUL J .RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Overturned Highway in Nishinomiya, Japan

Overturned Highway in Nishinomiya, Japan

The 1995 western Japanese earthquake measured 7.2 on the Richter scale.

LIFE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Earthquake in Anchorage, 1964

Earthquake in Anchorage, 1964

The magnitude 9.2 Alaska earthquake of 1964 -- which lasted a terrifying-to-contemplate five minutes -- was one of the largest ever recorded, and caused hundreds after triggering tsunamis that raced west across the Pacific.

Bill Ray/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Piazza San Marco, Venice, 1965

Piazza San Marco, Venice, 1965

Venetians have long known that, at any moment, the sea can retake their city.

LIFE/Keystone/Getty Images

Florida Palm Trees in a Hurricane, 1947

Florida Palm Trees in a Hurricane, 1947

LIFE/Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Broken Village Near L'Aquila

Broken Village Near L'Aquila

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the center of Italy in 2009 killed 308. See the Full Gallery at LIFE.

LIFE/CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images

Nature's Wrath and Its Aftermath

No matter how far humanity has progressed since the days we rode out storms huddled in caves, terrified, nature still routinely reminds us that people, buildings and cities -- in fact, entire countries -- can be overwhelmed in an instant. See the Full Gallery at LIFE.

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