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Ruins from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

A disaster is a serious disruption occurring over a short or long period of time that causes widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.[1][2] Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95 percent of all deaths caused by hazards occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural hazards are 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries than in industrialized countries.[3][4]

EtymologyEdit

The word disaster is derived from Middle French désastre and that from Old Italian disastro, which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek pejorative prefix δυσ-, (dus-) "bad"[5] and ἀστήρ (aster), "star".[6] The root of the word disaster ("bad star" in Greek) comes from an astrological sense of a calamity blamed on the position of planets.[7]

ClassificationEdit

Disasters are routinely divided into natural or human-made,[8] although complex disasters, where there is no single root cause, are more common in developing countries. A specific disaster may spawn a secondary disaster that increases the impact. A classic example is an earthquake that causes a tsunami, resulting in coastal flooding. Some manufactured disasters have been ascribed to nature.[8]

Some researchers also differentiate between recurring events, such as seasonal flooding, and those considered unpredictable.[9]

Natural disastersEdit

A natural disaster is a natural process or phenomenon that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage.

Various phenomena like earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, tsunamis, and cyclones are all natural disasters that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of habitat and property each year. However, the rapid growth of the world's population and its increased concentration often in hazardous environments has escalated both the frequency and severity of disasters. With the tropical climate and unstable landforms, coupled with deforestation, unplanned growth proliferation, non-engineered constructions make the disaster-prone areas more vulnerable. Developing countries suffer more or less chronically from natural disasters due to ineffective communication combined with insufficient budgetary allocation for disaster prevention and management.

 
Airplane crashes and terrorist attacks are examples of man-made disasters: they cause pollution, kill people, and damage property. This example is of the September 11 attacks in 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York.

Human-made disastersEdit

Human-instigated disasters are the consequence of technological or human hazards. Examples include stampedes, fires, transport accidents, industrial accidents, oil spills, nuclear explosions/nuclear radiation. War and deliberate attacks may also be put in this category.

Other types of induced disasters include the more cosmic scenarios of catastrophic global warming, nuclear war, and bioterrorism.

One opinion argues that disasters can be seen as human-made, due to human failure to introduce appropriate emergency management measures.[10]

ResponsesEdit

The following table categorizes some disasters and notes first response initiatives.[11]

Natural Disaster
Example Profile First response
Avalanche The sudden, drastic flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers, such as loading from new snow or rain, or artificial triggers, such as explosives or backcountry skiers, overload the snowpack Shut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
Blizzard A severe snowstorm characterized by very strong winds and low temperatures Power off all equipment; listen to blizzard advisories; Evacuate area, if unsafe; Assess damage
Earthquake The shaking of the earth's crust, caused by underground volcanic forces of breaking and shifting rock beneath the earth's surface Shut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
Fire (wild) Fires that originate in uninhabited areas and which pose the risk to spread to inhabited areas Attempt to suppress fire in early stages; Evacuate personnel on alarm, as necessary; Notify fire department; Shut off utilities; Monitor weather advisories
Flood Flash flooding: Small creeks, gullies, dry streambeds, ravines, culverts or even low-lying areas flood quickly Monitor flood advisories; Determine flood potential to facilities; Pre-stage emergency power generating equipment; Assess damage
Freezing rain Rain occurring when outside surface temperature is below freezing Monitor weather advisories; arrange for snow and ice removal
Heat wave A prolonged period of excessively hot weather relative to the usual weather pattern of an area and relative to normal temperatures for the season Listen to weather advisories; Power-off all servers after a graceful shutdown if there is imminent potential of power failure; Shut down main electric circuit usually located in the basement or the first floor
Hurricane Heavy rains and high winds Power off all equipment; listen to hurricane advisories; Evacuate area, if flooding is possible; Check gas, water and electrical lines for damage; Do not use telephones, in the event of severe lightning; Assess damage
Landslide Geological phenomenon which includes a range of ground movement, such as rock falls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows Shut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
Lightning strike An electrical discharge caused by lightning, typically during thunderstorms Power off all equipment; listen to hurricane advisories; Evacuate area, if flooding is possible; Check gas, water and electrical lines for damage; Do not use telephones, in the event of severe lightning; Assess damage
Limnic eruption The sudden eruption of carbon dioxide from deep lake water Shut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
Tornado Violent rotating columns of air which descent from severe thunderstorm cloud systems Monitor tornado advisories; Power off equipment; Shut off utilities (power and gas); Assess damage once storm passes
Tsunami A series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake, usually caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, underwater explosions, landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water Power off all equipment; listen to tsunami advisories; Evacuate area, if flooding is possible; Check gas, water and electrical lines for damage; Assess damage
Volcanic eruption The release of hot magma, volcanic ash and/or gases from a volcano Shut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
Human-made Bioterrorism The intentional release or dissemination of biological agents as a means of coercion Get information immediately from public health officials via the news media as to the right course of action; If you think you have been exposed, quickly remove your clothing and wash off your skin; put on a HEPA to help prevent inhalation of the agent[12]
Civil unrest A disturbance caused by a group of people that may include sit-ins and other forms of obstructions, riots, sabotage and other forms of crime, and which is intended to be a demonstration to the public and the government, but can escalate into general chaos Contact local police or law enforcement[13][14]
Fire (urban) Even with strict building fire codes, people still perish needlessly in fires Attempt to suppress fire in early stages; Evacuate personnel on alarm, as necessary; Notify fire department; Shut off utilities; Monitor weather advisories
Hazardous material spills The escape of solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property or the environment, from their intended controlled environment such as a container. Leave the area and call the local fire department for help.[15] If anyone was affected by the spill, call the your local Emergency Medical Services line[16]
Nuclear and radiation accidents An event involving significant release of radioactivity to the environment or a reactor core meltdown and which leads to major undesirable consequences to people, the environment, or the facility Recognize that a CBRN incident has or may occur. Gather, assess and disseminate all available information to first responders. Establish an overview of the affected area. Provide and obtain regular updates to and from first responders.[17]
Power failure Caused by summer or winter storms, lightning or construction equipment digging in the wrong location Wait 5–10 minutes; power off all servers after a graceful shutdown; do not use telephones, in the event of severe lightning; shut down main electric circuit usually located in the basement or the first floor

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "What is a disaster?". www.ifrc.org. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Disasters & Emergencies: Definitions" (PDF). Addis Ababa: Emergency Humanitarian Action. March 2002. Retrieved 26 November 2017 – via World Health Organization International. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "World Bank: Disaster Risk Management".
  4. ^ Luis Flores Ballesteros. "Who’s getting the worst of natural disasters?" 54Pesos.org, 4 October 2008 Archived 3 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Dus, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus".
  6. ^ "Aster, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus".
  7. ^ "Disaster" in Etymology online
  8. ^ a b Didi Kirsten Tatlow (15 December 2016). "Don't Call It 'Smog' in Beijing, Call It a 'Meteorological Disaster". The New York Times.
  9. ^ L. Bull-Kamanga; K. Diagne; A. Lavell; E. Leon; F. Lerise; H. MacGregor; A. Maskrey; M. Meshack; M. Pelling (1 April 2003). "From everyday hazards to disasters: the accumulation of risk in urban areas". Environment and Urbanization. 15 (1): 193–204. doi:10.1177/095624780301500109. ISSN 0956-2478.
  10. ^ Blaikie, Piers, Terry Cannon, Ian Davis & Ben Wisner. At Risk – Natural hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters, Wiltshire: Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-415-25216-4
  11. ^ Business Continuity Planning (BCP): Sample Plan For Nonprofit Organizations. Archived 2 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine Pages 11-12. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  12. ^ What should I do if there has been a bioterrorism attack?. Edmond A. Hooker. WebMD. 9 October 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  13. ^ Report of the Joint Fire/Police Task Force on Civil Unrest (FA-142): Recommendations for Organization and Operations During Civil Disturbance. Page 55. FEMA. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  14. ^ Business Continuity Planning: Developing a Strategy to Minimize Risk and Maintain Operations. Archived 27 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine Adam Booher. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  15. ^ Hazardous Materials. Archived 11 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Tennessee Emergency Management Office. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  16. ^ Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents (MHMIs). Center for Disease Control. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  17. ^ Guidelines for First Response to a CBRN Incident. Project on Minimum Standards and Non-Binding Guidelines for First Responders Regarding Planning, Training, Procedure and Equipment for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Incidents.] NATO. Emergency Management. Retrieved 21 October 2012.

Further readingEdit

  • Barton, Allen H. Communities in Disaster: A Sociological Analysis of Collective Stress Situations, Doubleday, 1st edition 1969, ASIN: B0006BVVOW
  • Susanna M. Hoffman, Susanna M. & Anthony Oliver-Smith, authors & editors. Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster, School of American Research Press, 1st edition 2002, ISBN 978-1930618152
  • Bankoff, Greg, Georg Frerks, Dorothea Hilhorst. Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 978-1853839641
  • Alexander, David. Principles of Emergency planning and Management, Oxford University Press, 1 edition 2002, ISBN 978-0195218381
  • Quarantelli, E. L. (2008). "Conventional Beliefs and Counterintuitive Realities". Conventional Beliefs and Counterintuitive Realities in Social Research: an international Quarterly of the social Sciences, Vol. 75 (3): 873–904.
  • Paul, B. K et al. (2003). "Public Response to Tornado Warnings: a comparative Study of the 4 May 2003 Tornadoes in Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee". Quick Response Research Report, no 165, Natural Hazard Center, Universidad of Colorado
  • Kahneman, D. y Tversky, A. (1984). "Choices, Values and frames". American Psychologist 39 (4): 341–350.
  • Beck, U. (2006). Risk Society, towards a new modernity. Buenos Aires, Paidos
  • Aguirre, B. E & Quarantelli, E. H. (2008). "Phenomenology of Death Counts in Disasters: the invisible dead in the 9/11 WTC attack". International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. Vol. 26 (1): 19–39.
  • Wilson, H. (2010). "Divine Sovereignty and The Global Climate Change debate". Essays in Philosophy. Vol. 11 (1): 1–7
  • Uscher-Pines, L. (2009). "Health effects of Relocation following disasters: a systematic review of literature". Disasters. Vol. 33 (1): 1–22.
  • Scheper-Hughes, N. (2005). "Katrina: the disaster and its doubles". Anthropology Today. Vol. 21 (6).
  • Phillips, B. D. (2005). "Disaster as a Discipline: The Status of Emergency Management Education in the US". International Journal of Mass-Emergencies and Disasters. Vol. 23 (1): 111–140.
  • Mileti, D. and Fitzpatrick, C. (1992). "The causal sequence of Risk communication in the Parkfield Earthquake Prediction experiment". Risk Analysis. Vol. 12: 393–400.
  • Perkins, Jamey. "The Calamity of Disaster – Recognizing the possibilities, planning for the event, managing crisis and coping with the effects", Public Safety Degrees

External linksEdit