Teaching undergraduate Developmental Psychology, first at Holy Family College (now
University) and now NYU, I often have the students do a life mapping or life line
exercise. And a similar modified exercise for my graduate course in Cross-Cultural
Counseling at NYU. The exercise asks the students to identify significant events either
directly in their life or events in society/home town, etc., that had an impact on their
The key events I will look at are: 1. Natural disasters in the St. Louis region, 2.
The Intersection of Psychology and Religion, 3. Pandemics, more
specifically HIV/AIDS, and finally, 4. The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.
Natural Disasters in the St. Louis Region -
Growing up in St. Louis City and County (they are separate from each other, when the
City seceded from St. Louis County in 1877) surrounded by the Missouri, Mississippi,
and Meramec Rivers and the annual tornado season have been parts of my early
memories. My first major influencing event was when I was 4 or 5 years old when a
tornado came close to our home on Wyoming Street in St Louis City. The next morning
a tree in our back yard and our swing set were gone and only a deep hole in the yard was
left with remnants of both.
In 1925 between 695-747 fatalities occur in what is called the Tri-State Tornado which
hit southeast Missouri into southern Illinois and finally into Indiana. There have been a
total of 91 historical tornado events that had recorded a magnitude of 2 or above found
in or near St. Louis. The “Great Cyclone of 1896” ripped an eight mile swath of
destruction through St. Louis and East St. Louis. The third deadliest tornado event in
U.S. history. To be hit 31 years later with the St Louis Tornado Disaster. Until 2000,
the 1896 and the 1927 St Louis Tornadoes were the costliest in history.
Our Maurer/Gries Cousins lived near River des Peres in southeast St Louis City. The
River des Peres is a 9.3-mile-long metropolitan river in St. Louis, Missouri. It is the
backbone of sanitary and stormwater systems in the city of St. Louis and portions of St.
Louis County. When the Mississippi was in flood stage the river waters would back up
into River des Peres. There was often sand bagging around the low points to protect the
homes. But often the waters would back up into the city sewer system into the
basements of many area homes. When not in flood stage the River des Peres - and all
the pollutants and waste it carries - empties into the Mississippi River, which is home to
hundreds of species of aquatic life, including the federally endangered pallid sturgeon.
In recent history there is the Great Flood of the Missouri and Mississippi in 1993, the
size and impact of the Great Flood of 1993 was unprecedented. Precipitation for the
month averaged from one inch above normal at Kansas City, both rivers had record
crests that met each other at their confluence near St. Louis City and County. The 1993
Great Flood almost brought about a near collapse of St. Louis city's floodwall. The level
of flooding repeated again in 2008.
From 1950 to 2010 there have been a total of 3,335 weather extremes within 50 miles
of St. Louis, MO. These were blizzards 5, extreme cold 27, dense fog 23, drought 24,
floods 273, hail 1,150, extreme heat 87, heavy snow 35, ice storm 14, strong wind 57,
thunderstorm winds 1, 430, winter storm 101, winter weather 33, and other 87. Since
1974 there have been a total of 3 historical earthquake events that had recorded
magnitudes of 3.5 or above found in or near St. Louis. In 1974 a 4.0 earthquake just
16.5 miles away; in 1981 a 3.5 earthquake at 49.3 miles away; and in 1983 a 4.6
earthquake at 37.5 miles away.
The most famous is the 1811-1812 New Madrid, Missouri series of earthquakes. The
worst being an estimated 7.7 magnitude. The Missouri River flood of 1844 rivals the
record-setting 1993 floods in magnitude and damage. But St. Louis elected officials, like
Mayor Cyrus Walbridge after the “Great Cyclone of 1896 “insisted his city could handle
the disaster on its own. “
A huge fire burned most of downtown St. Louis City in 1849. Cholera also hit St Louis
badly in 1849 (7,000+ deaths, 1/10th of the St. Louis population). Cholera was a
frequent visitor to St Louis, in 1832, 1833, 1835, 1850 for 845 deaths, with additional
deaths every year through 1855, 1866 (3,527 deaths) and more again in 1867. During
the Civil War there was a smallpox epidemic in the Military Prisons from 1862-1865.
The 1918-1919 World Wide Influenza Pandemic (aka Spanish Flu). The city has also
been hit by epidemics of yellow fever, influenza, encephalitis and typhoid. My great-
great grandfather Lorenz Schilly booked passage on an English ship for himself and an
elderly man who did not have the means to pay his own way. This man's identity and
subsequent life are unknown.
The ocean crossing took three months. The German passengers hated the English crew
for treating them very badly. Lorenz became ill during the voyage and when the ship
touched the port at New Orleans, the crew threw him off the boat. It was storming so he
crawled under a wagon for shelter. A kind sailor found him there and got him to a
hospital operated by the Daughters of Christian Charity. Upon recovery from his
illness, typhoid fever, Lorenz purchased a pair of boots for his benefactor for ten
dollars. After this purchase, he was left with four dollars and his passage to St. Louis. It
was not recorded if his luggage was thrown off the boat with him, sent to St. Louis ahead
of him, or was lost forever. At any rate, Lorenz Schilly arrived at his St. Louis
destination in 1854.
My mom’s mother, Bertha nee Ferenbach Mogan, had two brothers John and Ernest
Ferenbach who entered the U.S. Army in 1918. Her brother Johann "John" Fridolin
Ferenbach went as a Private to Camp Forest, Ga., on 6 Sept. 1918. He was placed with
the Engineers Replacement Troops. At Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., he contracted pneumonia,
following an attack of Spanish Influenza and died in the hospital there at the age of 21.
Upon arriving at Camp Forest he bough a $10,000 life insurance policy. Upon his death
it was the mainstay of the family. Part of it was used to purchase the family cemetery
plot at St. Mary's Woodside, IL. The other for a down payment on the Ferenbach farm.
John died October 12, 1918 at 4:00 pm.
This story did not end that day. It ended a year or two later when a life insurance policy
that John had signed up for when he joined the Army paid Albert Ferenbach $10,000.
John had literally “bought the farm” by his death because until his insurance money
arrived the Ferenbach family were sharecroppers. They were given sixty acres of land
to farm on by their landlord, a Mr. Schmieder, with the agreement that he would be
given all profits derived from the farming of half of those acres. With the windfall of
money they received from son John, however, the Ferenbachs were able to buy their
very own farm. You might say that the story does not even end there. When my
grandparents Floyd and Bertha Morgan were about to be evicted from the place they
were renting on Garnier Street, in that the house was being sold out from under them,
they were able to use their portion of the inheritance from the sale of the family farm to
put a down payment on their very first house. That was in 1946, shortly before
Christmas, and the house was on Michigan Avenue in the Carondelet area of South St.
The Intersection of Psychology and Religion -
The Remainder to be added shortly **** Please Pardon the Abrupt Stop
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mick Maurer
NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mick Maurer
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-PA and Mick Maurer
Richard Tafel, LCR ExDir and Mick Maurer
|Dr. Maurer was the founder and the first director of the Metropolitan College of New York's Master of Public
Administration in Emergency & Disaster Management degree program. Established in the wake of 9/11, when
the national landscape changed forever, an emphasis on security and crisis management was born.
Mick has been featured both locally and nationally in:
• MCNY Launching Disaster Management Program: Designed in Response to 9/11, It will train Emergency Managers,
Lucadamo, Kathleen; The New York Sun: 2003 Dec 22
• Terror prep: A booming field, Skenazy, Lenore; New York Daily News: Wednesday, April 21, 2004
• NORAD And USNORTHCOM Tap Academia To Answer Questions, Lowe, Merrie S., NORAD/USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
Office; April 02, 2004
• IT Support of Homeland Security to be Focus at Research Center, Willoughby, Mark,; Computerworld, January 28, 2004
• Some Colleges are Developing Disaster-Management Programs, Dunham, Kemba; The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2004
• Earning Masters in Disasters, Blumberg, Deborah L.; Downtown Express, Volume 17, Issue 8/July 16-22, 2004
• As Anxiety Grows, So Does Field of Terror Study, Hoffman, Claire; The New York Times, September 1, 2004
About Dr. Michael T. "Mick" Maurer
Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-AZ and Mick Maurer
AZ State Rep. Steven May (R) and Mick Maurer