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The Calamity of Disaster - Recognizing the possibilities, planning for the event, managing crisis and coping with the effects

By Jamey Perkins

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What is considered a disaster?

When most of us think of the term "disaster", we think of such things as hurricanes, tornados, floods, and plague. However, the term actually refers to any type of tragedy that involves at least one life, or creates a problem that affects the livelihood of at least one victim. Victim is not even defined as only pertaining to human victims, but rather any living entity or ecology. If a flood occurs in lifeless areas and causes no damage, the term disaster would not apply. However, if that same flood occurs and drastically affects the livelihood of any species of plant or animal or creates a change in ecology that has an extended effect; it could be considered a disaster. Simply defined, a disaster is any incident that creates a victim of circumstance.

Types of disasters

Disasters can be broken down into two basic categories. Man-made disasters are those which occurred as a result of human intervention, or lack of intervention. They occur as a result of the influence of man, and the affect of mankind's existence. Natural disasters are those which are caused as a result of any natural hazard. Natural disasters can be a result which is completely benign to any human influence, but can also be an indirect result of human interaction. Scientists theorize that global warming is a natural disaster brought about indirectly by human influence. Of these two types of disasters, there is a list of which can occur:

  • Chemical
  • Earthquake
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Hazardous material
  • Heat
  • Hurricane
  • Landslide
  • Terrorism
  • Thunderstorm
  • Tornado
  • Tsunami
  • Volcano
  • Winter Storms
  • Mechanical

Alternatively, a cross-over affect or side affect can occur with any disaster. In fact, many of the nation's historic disasters report a more substantial impact on the natural, social and economic outcomes as a direct result of cross-over effects, rather than original cause of a disaster. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina left a path of devastation that stretched from the Bahamas through Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, and almost all of southeastern and eastern North America. Although a great many lives were lost as a direct result of flooding and the winds that occurred, a far bigger impact was felt in the many other disasters caused by Katrina as a result. Economical, environmental, and social effects from the storm were felt around the world. Such things as disease, poverty, unemployment, biological and ecological damage, and a break down in the structure of emergency response can all be attributed to the hurricane.

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