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Natural Destruction

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As the sun rises along US 166 heading east to Coffeyville, Kansas, the fog seems to be lifting from the fields on either side of the road on this mid-July morning. Beneath the fog are cows, their heads to the ground, grazing. The foreboding feeling one gets when coming into an area of devastation is heavy. Yet driving down this long skinny road, littered with pieces of tire tread, nothing appears unusual –until you see the east side of town, where the Verdigris River runs. The baseball field is covered in a layer of brown muck, trash and grass look baked to the fence; pools of water are everywhere. And all through the east side of town, a murky brown horizontal line about 5 feet above the ground marks every building.

Heavy rains began falling on Coffeyville 16 days ago, on June 26. On July 1, the rainwater overflowed the Verdigris River and topped the levees by 4 feet, causing tremendous flooding – the most this city has seen in 64 years. Coffeyville Resources, a local refinery, leaked crude oil into the water, which has made most homes in the affected area uninhabitable.

The following images were taken on assignment for Samaritan’s Purse, and Decision Magazine while covering the flooding in Coffeyville, Kansas, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Gustav.

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all images ©christopher capozziello | Contact | 203-314-1714

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