Disaster Management Essay
Introduction Various disasters like earthquake, landslides, volcanic eruptions, fires, flood and cyclones are natural hazards that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of habitat and property each year. The rapid growth of the world’s population and its increased concentration often in hazardous environment has escalated both the frequency and severity of natural disasters.
With the tropical climate and unstable land forms, coupled with deforestation, unplanned growth proliferation non-engineered constructions which make the disaster-prone areas mere vulnerable, tardy communication, poor or no budgetary allocation for disaster prevention, developing countries suffer more or less chronically by natural disasters.
Asia tops the list of casualties due to natural disaster. Among various natural hazards, earthquakes, landslides, floods and cyclones are the major disasters adversely affecting very large areas and population in the Indian sub-continent.
These natural disasters are of (i) geophysical origin such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, land slides and (ii) climatic origin such as drought, flood, cyclone, locust, forest fire.
Though it may not be feasible to control nature and to stop the development of natural phenomena but the efforts could be made to avoid disasters and alleviate their effects on human lives, infrastructure and property. MEANING: Disaster management, also known as emergency management, arose out of Cold War era Civil Defense initiatives. Since Sept. 1, 2001, businesses and government agencies have worked to improve disaster readiness to minimize civil and commerce disruption in the event of a catastrophe. In the United States, disaster management is spearheaded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Disaster Management: Is more than just response and relief (i. e. , it assumes a more proactive approach) Is a systematic process (i. e. , is based on the key management principles of planning, organising, and leading which includes coordinating and controlling) Aims to reduce the negative impact or consequences f adverse events (i. e. , disasters cannot always be prevented, but the adverse effects can be minimised) Is a system with many components ( Read more: About Disaster Management | eHow. com http://www. ehow. com/about_5101762_disaster-management. html#ixzz0xXvQo9yt www. col. org/ Disaster management is an enormous task. They are not confined to any particular location, neither do they disappear as quickly as they appear. Therefore, it is imperative that there is proper management to optimize efficiency of planning and response.
Due to limited resources, collaborative efforts at the governmental, private and community levels are necessary. This level of collaboration requires a coordinated and organized effort to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and their effects in the shortest possible time. The diagram below shows the Disaster Management Cycle. [pic] Mitigation: Measures put in place to minimize the results from a disaster. Examples: building codes and zoning; vulnerability analyses; public education. Preparedness: Planning how to respond.
Examples: preparedness plans; emergency exercises/training; warning systems. Response: Initial actions taken as the event takes place. It involves efforts to minimize the hazards created by a disaster. Examples: evacuation; search and rescue; emergency relief. Recovery: Returning the community to normal. Ideally, the affected area should be put in a condition equal to or better than it was before the disaster took place. Examples: temporary housing; grants; medical care. The primary focus of disaster management is to prevent disasters wherever possible or to mitigate those which are inevitable.
Four sets of tools that could be used to prevent or mitigate disasters include: a Hazard management and vulnerability reduction b Economic diversification c Political intervention and commitment d Public awareness The first two apply exclusively to disasters caused by natural phenomena while the latter are used to mitigate any other hazards. Disasters and developments are closely related. Disaster can both destroy development initiatives and create development opportunities. Development schemes can both increase and decrease vulnerability.
Thus, links between disaster and development must be taken into account for sustainable socio-economic development. Distinguishing between an emergency and a disaster situation An emergency and a disaster are two different situations: ?? An emergency is a situation in which the community is capable of coping. It is a situation generated by the real or imminent 22 occurrence of an event that requires immediate attention and that requires immediate attention of emergency resources. ?? A disaster is a situation in which the community is incapable of coping.
It is a natural or human-caused event which causes intense negative impacts on people, goods, services and/or the environment, exceeding the affected community’s capability to respond; therefore the community seeks the assistance of government and international agencies. 129BTypes of natural and non-natural disasters Disasters are often classified according to their: a causes – natural vs. human b speed of onset – sudden vs. slow An excellent summary of frequently asked questions can be found at the Global Development Research Centre’s website (Srinivas, 2005). A. CAUSES 1 Natural Disasters
These types of disaster naturally occur in proximity to, and pose a threat to, people, structures or economic assets. They are caused by biological, geological, seismic, hydrologic, or meteorological conditions or processes in the natural environment (e. g. , cyclones, earthquakes, tsunami, floods, landslides, and volcanic eruptions). a Cyclones, Hurricanes or Typhoons Cyclones develop when a warm ocean gives rise to hot air, which in turn creates convectional air currents. Cyclones occur when these conventional air currents are being displaced. The term hurricane/typhoon is a regionally specific name for a “tropical cyclone”.
In Asia they are called ‘typhoons’; in the Indian and Pacific Oceans they are called ‘cyclones’; and over the North Atlantic and Caribbean Basin, they are called ‘hurricanes’. Tropical warning procedures: i Small crafts and fishing boats: approx 25-35mph winds. ii Wind advisory for the public: approx. 25-35mph winds. iii Gale watch: when a mature tropical cyclone has a significant probability to threaten a part of the country within 48 hours. iv Gale force warning: issued when wind speeds are expected to reach gale force intensity of (34-47knots) within the next 24 hours. 23 Storm watch: if a post tropical cyclone disturbance is a notable to threat to an area or the entire country within a 24 to 48 hour timeframe, a storm watch statement would be included with the gale warning. vi Storm warning: issued every three (3) hours when the average wind speeds are expected to reach storm force intensity of 48-63 knots within the next 12 to 24 hours. vii Cyclone watch: issued when tropical cyclone winds is expected to reach cyclone force winds of above 63 knots (or 70 mph) in 24 to 48 hours. viii Cyclone warning: issued every three (3) hours, when wind speeds are xpected to exceed 63 knots within the next 12 to 24 hours. b Earthquakes An earthquake is a trembling or shaking movement of the earth’s surface, resulting from plate movements along a fault-plane or as a result of volcanic activity. Earthquakes can strike suddenly, violently, and without warning at any time of the day or night. The following terminologies are associated with earthquakes: epicentre, fault, magnitude and seismic waves. For practical purposes, earthquakes are usually defined by their magnitude (or quantitative energy released) which is measured using a logarithm scale of 1 – 10.
This logarithm scale is referred to as the Richter scale. The magnitude is determined by analysing seismic data obtained from seismometers. The intensity of an earthquake is measured using the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale, which is determined qualitatively by physical observations of the earthquake’s impact. c Tsunami A tsunami is an ocean wave generated by a submarine earthquake, volcano or landslide. It is also known as a seismic sea wave, and incorrectly as a tidal wave. Storm surges (or Galu Lolo) are waves caused by strong windsF 1 F. The largest earthquake event recorded in Samoa was on 26 June 1917, measuring 8. on the Richter scale. The event originated in Tonga (approximately 200km south of Apia) and it triggered a tsunami of four to eight (4-8) metre run-ups in Satupaitea, Savaii. The tsunami arrived less than ten (10) minutes from its point of origin, meaning it travelled at a speed of more than 1,000km/hr. Hence, when an earthquake occurs, you must heed the tsunami warning, for example, people living in low-lying coastal areas must relocate to higher and safer grounds immediately. 1 Tsunami was known in Samoa as a Galu Afi but the National Disaster Advisory Committee (DAC) has now adopted SUNAMI as its Samoan translation. 4 d Floods This phenomenon occurs when water covers previously dry areas, i. e. , when large amounts of water flow from a source such as a river or a broken pipe onto a previously dry area, or when water overflows banks or barriers. Floods can be environmentally important to local ecosystems. For example, some river floods bring nutrients to soil such as in Egypt where the annual flooding of the Nile River carries nutrients to otherwise dry land. Floods can also have an economic and emotional impact on people, particularly if their property is directly affected.
Having a better understanding of what causes flooding can help people to be better prepared and to perhaps minimize or prevent flood damage. e Landslides The term landslide refers to the downward movement of masses of rock and soil. Landslides are caused by one or a combination of the following factors: change in slope gradient, increasing the load the land must bear, shocks and vibrations, change in water content, ground water movement, frost action, weathering of shocks, removal or, or changing the type of vegetation covering slopes.
Landslide hazard areas occur where the land has certain characteristics which contribute to the risk of the downhill movement of material. These characteristics include: i A slope greater than 15 percent. ii Landslide activity or movement occurred during the last 10,000 years. iii Stream or wave activity which has caused erosion, undercut a bank or cut into a bank to cause the surrounding land to be unstable. iv The presence or potential for snow avalanches. v The presence of an alluvial fan which indicates vulnerability to the flow of debris or sediments. i The presence of impermeable soils, such as silt or clay, which are mixed with granular soils such as sand and gravel. Landslides can also be triggered by other natural hazards such as rains, floods, earthquakes, as well as human-made causes, such as grading, terrain cutting and filling, excessive development, etc. Because the factors affecting landslides can be geophysical or human-made, they can occur in developed areas, undeveloped areas, or any area where the terrain has been altered for roads, houses, utilities, buildings, etc. 2 Human-Made Disasters 25
These are disasters or emergency situations of which the principal, direct causes are identifiable human actions, deliberate or otherwise. Apart from “technological disasters” this mainly involves situations in which civilian populations suffer casualties, losses of property, basic services and means of livelihood as a result of war, civil strife or other conflicts, or policy implementation. In many cases, people are forced to leave their homes, giving rise to congregations of refugees or externally and/or internally displaced persons as a result of civil strife, an airplane crash, a major fire, oil spill, epidemic, terrorism, etc.
B. SPEED OF ONSET 1 Sudden onset: little or no warning, minimal time to prepare. For example, an earthquake, tsunami, cyclone, volcano, etc. 2 Slow onset: adverse event slow to develop; first the situation develops; the second level is an emergency; the third level is a disaster. For example, drought, civil strife, epidemic, etc. The main hazards a region is, or may be vulnerable to, will depend on the geographic location of the country. In Samoa, for example, the main hazards which may turn into disasters are: ?? Cyclones ?? Earthquakes ?? Tsunami ?? Flooding ?? Landslides ?? Epidemics
Types • There are four steps in disaster management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Every disaster is different and response is determined by the events at hand. Disasters might be natural or unnatural in origin. Hurricanes are a natural disaster while terrorism or chemical spills are unnatural. The type of emergency determines the response. Some disasters might require evacuation or relocation. Others might demand quarantine or decontamination. Mitigation • The mitigation phase of disaster management focuses on long-term preparation or avoidance of disaster altogether.
The accurate identification of risks is paramount at this juncture. Risks are ranked through catastrophic modeling, which uses mathematical formulas and computer calculations to weigh risk. FEMA also offers free risk analysis software to assess natural disaster risks. Mitigation includes preventive actions categorized as either structural solutions, such as shoring up levees, to prevent flooding, or nonstructural solutions such as connecting with local and federal agencies to work out emergency process flow. Preparedness Preparedness involves gathering supplies in anticipation of disaster scenarios as well as training of emergency and nonemergency staff. Disaster management focuses on ensuring shelter is available for displaced citizens as well as maintenance and storage of equipment, training of staff and volunteers, and preparing for resource mobilization. Large-scale disaster training exercises are often conducted to test preparedness and look for weaknesses in disaster response. Corporations might also have emergency response teams composed of volunteers that undergo disaster preparedness drills. Response First responders to a disaster are usually law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. From there, if a disaster warrants a large-scale response, the chain of command and resource utilization moves to the county, then to the state and, finally, to the federal level. Volunteer organizations such as the Red Cross are often pivotal to the response effort as well. Responders are connected through a FEMA-sponsored IT platform called Emergency Information Management Systems. Response timing is critical as most disaster victims die within the first two days of a catastrophic event. Recovery Once the initial crisis has passed, it is time to rebuild and restore what was lost. This is known as the recovery phase of disaster management. The federal government coordinates and provides the majority of post-disaster assistance as determined by the National Response Plan, which is managed by the Department of Homeland Security. As the recovery phase comes to a close, a thorough assessment of what failed or succeeded should be taken and used to improve all phases of disaster management. Read more: About Disaster Management | eHow. com http://www. ehow. com/about_5101762_disaster-management. html#ixzz0xXveRKXL