May 7th, 2008
04:42 PM ET

What 100,000 people means...

David Reisner
360° Digital Producer

A U.S. diplomat says the Myanmar cyclone death-toll may top 100,000…

It’s hard to fathom just how many people 100,000 really amounts to.
How do we take in the death of that many people at once?

Here's one way to look at it: Imagine any one of these U.S. cities disappearing - overnight.
That drives it home for me, what about for you?


What 100,000 means

  • Berkeley, California
  • Burbank, California
  • Waterbury, Connecticut
  • Pompano Beach, Florida
  • Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Springfield, Illinois
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Elizabeth, New Jersey
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Norman, Oklahoma
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Beaumont, Texas
  • Waco, Texas
  • Portsmouth, Virginia
  • Bellevue, Washington
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2006

Filed under: Cyclone • Myanmar
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Sunny S

    Wow. That brings it home

    May 8, 2008 at 12:03 pm |
  2. G, Lafayette, LA

    Wow...I am a teacher in Lafayette, Louisiana! I just showed my high school students this on the overhead projector and told them to imagine leaving school and not seeing a single person on the road, in stores, or even in your own home. It really hit home to them as to how much 100,000 people actually is! Thanks so much for this visual representation!

    May 8, 2008 at 12:03 pm |
  3. Chad

    It is sad to see this kind of devastation. Yes, 100,000 is a astronomical number to take in but it is small in comparison to the big picture here. That is that this planet is sick and it is going to fix itself with or without us here.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm |
  4. Reggie

    Shocking! I just count my blessings every day because it could happen to us anytime - My prayers for all the one's suffering and having lost loved ones.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm |
  5. Joshua

    To describe the 100,000 death toll disaster with a visual map for Americans to comprehend is a very good start. It is now up to Americans to figure out if they have the will to open the eyes to their hearts to make a difference. We can stand behind our great country thinking the best is what we are but the reality is disaster has already hit us as a nation. This tragedy continues today and will continue tomorrow. We just have to try to make a difference with action. And our constitution allows us to have rights that people around the world never realize in their lifetimes. I pray for our country in its dark hour of truth and justice.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  6. Srini

    This is very sad, that number is huge.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  7. Marjorie Williams

    At the risk of comparing one tragedy to the next which is in noway productive to the those at "ground zero", I must reply to one of the commenters and say, "No, this does not make Katrina seem "mild" ". When you compare Myanmar (Burma) and the US on home structure, the ability to warn people of potential storms, the ability to rescue those in need and the financial resources to recover from such a calamity it does not make Katrina seem mild it makes it even more apparent that there was a major, major problem with the US governments response (on all levels) to the disaster that STILL IS Katrina.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:57 am |
  8. Chris

    At what point are we able to say that this Govt. is not capable of protecting its people and may be found negligent in this case and charged with crimes against humanity.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  9. Shelley Ionescu

    What gets me is, if Myanmar doesn't get rolling on the humanitarian aid, we might be looking at a MUCH larger death toll when starvation, cholera, malaria and other diseases set in. What about the people who have survived the initial disaster, but are elderly, very young or have compromised health? What happens to those people? Get over the politics and help your people!

    May 8, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  10. Chris

    There are times when you question the purpose of a government. If it cannot take care of its own people in times of emergency, then it needs to step aside. It is clear that the government in Burma is an irresponsible group of incompetent and paranoid men who do not deserve to lead that country.

    If the United Nations had any courage, it would declare the Burmese government defunct and take over.

    This is an outrage!

    May 8, 2008 at 11:55 am |
  11. WN

    Well said Gary... but here is another perspective (and it may hit even closer to home). Myanmar (or Burma if you prefer) is a major exporter of rice, and lost a major portion of it's rice-growing region. Not only will it affect that country, it will affect the entire planet. Kind of brings it home to me how connected we all are.
    My heart and prayers go out to these people; and the dictatorship should be dragged out of it's palaces and handed to the people who suffer so much.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  12. Becky

    This is a tragedy. The other half is the delay in getting in aid to these people...the survivors are the victims now.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  13. Ben

    10 die in that country when it rains.

    Overpopulate an area so that they are living in shanties on the beach, add water = dead.

    Its just a matter of time til it does "hit home."

    About two more generations of a single couple producing 5 or more children.

    Do we really feel that there are more weather related disasters or is it just the fact that there are more people living in areas that until recently did not have a population that would cause anyone to notice when they were wiped out.

    Harsh words or reality?

    Its been said already in these notes, this makes the SECOND 100k+ death toll in that area in recent history.

    Will we all get outraged and sympathetic when it happens again within 2 years?

    May 8, 2008 at 11:53 am |
  14. Debbie

    I live in a town next to Waterbury, CT – I cannot imagine the entire city of Waterbury being destroyed by water and wind. Thank you for giving us the perspective on how destructive this was. Prayers for the survivors and those who are trying so desperately to get into the area to help are very much needed.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:52 am |
  15. CommonSense4All

    This is a tragedy. And another tragedy is blaming the Bush Administration for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina. Whatever happened to self-reliance and personal responsibility? What is truly tragic is that the EXACT same people who complain about Government want more of it. Think about it.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:52 am |
  16. john

    ann arbor caught my attention actually. Imagine the Big House on a saturday for a Michigan University football game. That stadium fits a lil over 100k..imagine all those people gone..a catastrophic disaster

    May 8, 2008 at 11:52 am |
  17. Erik

    A 100,000 lost to a natural disaster is a catastrophe. One person lost because of a government that is incapable or worse, unwilling, is a crime against humanity. How many more victims will die as are result of feet dragging, bureaucracy and incompetence? These are the times when the elements of the UN need to unite and help the people of a nation even in the face of an unwilling host nation government.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  18. John

    This may sound cold, but 100,000 deaths doesn't completely surprise me. The Myanmar infrastructure and public services aren't capable of resisting such a strong natural force and the public is susceptible to high death tolls. What will surprise me is how much more the toll will climb because of the posturing of the Myanmar government over letting foreign aid in. Many countries are prepared to forward incredible relief efforts to assist the survivors and are met with resistance. The death toll could easily double or even triple or more in the next few weeks because of this. Can you imagine St. Louis or Pittsburgh or Salt Lake City vanishing over a period of days?

    May 8, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  19. Dean

    This is an extreme tragedy that deserves the full attention of the United States and other countries. We should be sending food, building supplies, engineers, and doctors and nurses right away, and in great quantities. But, since there is nothing in Myanmar that we really want, such as oil, most likely none of this will happen.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  20. Corey

    Wow. I live in Fayetteville, NC and this visual really hits home. Equivalent to our WHOLE town. God bless the survivors.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  21. Ella

    Way To Go !!!!!! That does drive it home...thank you

    May 8, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  22. SK

    It is not only 100,000 innocent victims of Nature's vengeance because of the man's greed in screwing with Mother Nature (deforestation, etc.). There are going to be at least 2 to 3 times of that in the next few months because of poor drainage, water borne diseases, lack of facilities to properly dispose of these 100,000+ corpses. I hope the ego, politics, etc are dumped into the sewer, and let the humanity take its course and help the innocent victims. How come there are no 911.org, Tsunami.org, Karina.org type organizations to help these victims?

    May 8, 2008 at 11:42 am |
  23. jeff

    junta junta ...military evil....there uglyness brought this act of god...to show there ugly face and to awaken the world to what evil a junta does

    May 8, 2008 at 11:40 am |
  24. Mr. Bennett - Chapel Hill N.C.

    When I teach about disasters, I use Katrina and 9/11 as a unit of easement since we lost about 2,000 citizens in both. For students, that is the only way they can gauge the number in terms of disaster rather than just people. That makes this storm in Burma, as well as the Tsunami, each as devastating as 50 Katrinas, or a more extreme way of looking at it is; they are both the equivalent of a Katrina hitting each state at the same time, and not only killing huge number of people in each, but also leaving obscene numbers of people homeless and without water and power. For me that hits home a lot more than saying Green Bay disappeared.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:39 am |
  25. Gilbert Saucedo

    Abilene Texas has a population of around 150,000. That would be like wiping the entire city out. It scares the crap out of me.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:37 am |
  26. Richard

    100,000 men, women, and children dead. Sad, and tragic. Some god huh?

    May 8, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  27. Gary Chandler in Canada

    For ONCE America has a chance to get it right! JUST DO IT! With a million people starving to death and bodies rotting in the streets, the world will finally applaud an invasion.
    You know the good Samaritan rule? You can't break into a house, but if it's on fire you can break to rescue lives.
    I'm not an historian. I don't know the whole list of American invasions that were second guessed or wrong. Late entry into WW2, VietNam, Chile, Iraq times 2. Anybody remember Croatia and Serbia, and haven't there been a some Central American operations.
    The Americans have a relief fleet in the area and helicopters in Thailand. The USA are letting people starve to death because some petty dictator won't give his permission to assist!? I give you permission! Go in and save some lives!
    Let the dictator have a tantrum!
    Wagons ho!!!!
    GO GO GO! or sit on your thumbs like you did after Katrina?

    May 8, 2008 at 4:11 am |
  28. Ayman A.M

    No matter how close we can get our imagination to visualize what the death of 100,000 people looks like, we cannot even get close to the level of grief that is in the hearts of each and every person who is directly related to those who died. The loss is dreadful, from mothers who lost their infants, to infants who were orphaned, to families that vanished, and most importantly to identities that had been shaken by the severity of this crisis.

    May 8, 2008 at 2:06 am |
  29. Jane, Detroit, MI

    The number also works out to 4 or 5 fully packed NBA arenas. Or two sold out NFL stadiums. It's a big number.

    May 8, 2008 at 12:27 am |
  30. EJ

    "It is very sad that Mother Nature can be so destructive with so many lives lost and homes destroyed This makes Katrina seem mild."

    The part about Katrina that was catastrophic was the government's response.

    It will be something the Bush administration and the state & local govts should always be ashamed of.

    So the difference is – we had the resources right here – right in our own backyards and it didn't get to these poor people!

    The government (through negligence) let those people suffer! So it was terrible for different reasons. For that to happen in the US will never be acceptable. For initial aid to take days to get to New Orleans was just not right.

    May 7, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  31. Kent, Illinois

    It is as if the tidal wave from a few years ago that killed over 100,000 has happened again. No, in this country we cannot imagine the devastation...........really terrible.

    May 7, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  32. Eugenia

    So little words..... so much said

    San Francisco, Ca

    May 7, 2008 at 9:53 pm |
  33. teddy cantrell


    May 7, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  34. Steve Cagle

    I do not appreciate that CNN refers to Burma as "Myanmar". The U.S. government does not recognize that name as it legitimizes a militant regime. I feel that CNN's referring to Burma as Myanmar is a way of showing its supportive of the military junta that is enslaving the Burmese people. Shame on you!

    May 7, 2008 at 9:19 pm |
  35. Annie Kate

    Nothing like a little perspective – thanks David for the illustration. Even with your illustration I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the estimate of 100,000 killed. Those poor people....

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 7, 2008 at 9:15 pm |
  36. Janna

    Very clever- I was trying to get a grasp on that number and you laid it right out there for me. Thank you. Perhaps we could use this kind of comparison with the genocide in Darfur and other mass atrocities. It could also be very sobering.

    May 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  37. Marion

    It is very sad that Mother Nature can be so destructive with so many lives lost and homes destroyed This makes Katrina seem mild.

    May 7, 2008 at 8:23 pm |
  38. Sarah

    Jesus, I'm a highschool senior in San Francisco. Goodbye Berkeley? woah.

    May 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm |
  39. Eva

    Thanks for the visual...it is just so sad and unbelievable!
    My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims!

    May 7, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  40. IH

    Numbers is one thing, but there is a human dimension that is difficult to express – imagine a people who has no expectations of aid, no sense of entitlement to helping hands, and the ingrained acceptance that they, alone, will need to pick themselves by the bootstraps and mourn their loss in silence. Just like Anderson Cooper, I'm applying for a visa to Burma. sitting around just seems irresponsible, when I know I have so much, and they have nothing.

    May 7, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  41. Jessica

    I live in Bellevue, Washington. It's indeed a very scary thought, also frustrating that the Burmese government is being so stubborn

    May 7, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  42. Amber


    Thank you for this–really brings it home. I am currently posting this from Berkeley, CA...to imagine a city of this size completely off the map definitely quantifies things for me.

    May 7, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  43. Genevieve M, TX

    100,000 is indeed A LOT of people! The idea of Burbank disappearing overnight is nearly unfathomable for me.

    May 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  44. leah

    I hope the government allows aid to come into this ravaged city. May God's people stand in prayer for this asian country.

    May 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  45. Debbie, Denham Springs, LA

    Since I am originally from the Lafayette, Louisiana area, it scares the heck out of me.

    May 7, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  46. Diem - Washington, DC

    How sad. My heart goes out to everyone in Myanmar.

    May 7, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  47. Tim Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    This is so very SAD. I feel so bad for the people. I hope they are getting food and water.

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    May 7, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  48. Cindy

    That number is just extremely hard to fathom until you get a visual like this! Thanks!!

    May 7, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  49. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    One person killed is too many. Add to the 100,000, all the people's lives that have been turned upside down and their loss of loved ones. In so many ways, we are really such a small world. I wish we could get to a point where we are just humans, humans who need and protect each other. 100,000 or one.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    May 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  50. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Lafayette, LA is about an hour northwest of me and is considered the big city to the west for our area. Perspective enough for one day....

    May 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
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