The yellow fever epidemic that struck Norfolk and Portsmouth in the summer and fall of 1855 was one of the worst in U.S. history. The disease was brought to the prosperous port region in June 1855 by the steamer Benjamin Franklin, which docked in Hampton Roads for repairs after arriving from the West Indies. Yellow fever spread from the dockside tenements occupied by Irish shipyard workers to Norfolk and Portsmouth, becoming epidemic by early August. Thousands became ill and thousands more fled the two cities in a panic, only to be met in many cases with quarantine zones that barred their entry. Life in both cities ground to a halt, with businesses, churches, and markets closed, the harbor shuttered, and the even the newspapers silenced by the death of their proprietors. City government essentially collapsed in the two cities, and the remaining residents survived only because of hastily formed civic aid organizations and outside help. Contributions for the beleaguered residents, as well as doctors and nurses, poured in from around the country. In the end, an estimated 3,000 people died in Norfolk, approximately one-third of the entire population, while upward of 1,000 died in Portsmouth. Neither city would truly recover until the twentieth century.