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Archive for December, 2010

Katrina: Can it happen Again?

17 Dec

As the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, many people will wonder if it can happen again. The answer to this question is both yes and no.

Yes, another large scale disaster causing misery, suffering and devastation on the level of Katrina is certainly possible. No, it probably won’t be a replay of Katrina it could be something else entirely.

There are many potential disasters that could befall the United States and cause devastation on the level of Katrina. Two of the most likely are earthquakes and volcanoes.

Potential Disasters

Many areas of the United States including the Midwest are prone to earthquakes. A large scale Earthquake particularly in an area not used to them could create the kind of devastation we saw after Katrina on a much wider scale.

The most likely places to be hit by an Earthquake would be California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Yet other big cities like St. Louis also sit on fault lines. A bothersome scenario similar to Katrina is that a quake could cause the collapse of levies and wide-spread flooding.

There are also quite a few volcanoes in the United States some of which are very close to large cities. The Mount Rainier volcano is right outside Seattle. These could create floods of mud and debris that could cover whole areas. This occurred when the Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in 1981. Such floods could easily cover a whole city and create large scale devastation.

The Real Catastrophe

The real catastrophe after Hurricane Katrina was not the disaster itself but government’s failure to respond to it. Even though there has been much talk of disaster response it is not clear whether the US government could effectively respond to such a catastrophe.

There has been no real structural change or radical reform to the federal government to make it more responsive to crises. If anything it has become less responsive because more layers of bureaucracy have been added.

To make matters worse politics is more polarized than ever. Politicians are afraid to respond to crises out of fear that they will be blamed for them.

This means that the government response to the next big disaster is likely to be a sorry repeat of the Katrina debacle. A debacle that does not need to occur, but will occur because America’s leaders are not interested in effective disaster response.


Disaster Preparedness: Prevention is better than Cure

17 Dec

As humans, we do not know when the wrath of nature may break upon us and hence, it is important that we take necessary preparatory measures in case anythinag unforeseen happens. Natural disasters do not knock on your door before they came and it is the suddenness that harms most. Although, disaster preparedness will not stop the calamity from happening, but can definitely control the amount of damage it will inflict upon the victims.

Create a Disaster Plan

The first step in preparing a plan for a natural disaster is to develop a plan to follow in case something of that sort happens. Each and every member of the family should be aware of immediate actions to be taken if a disaster strikes. They should have adequate knowledge of shelters close to home, emergency numbers and phone contacts of relatives who live nearby. This is very helpful if there is a need to evacuate the affected area. The disaster plan should also contain contingencies to follow if things do not go as planned.

Secure Necessary Items and Documents at Hand

A disaster aid kid should be prepared which should contain all essential items such as first aid tools, batteries, torches among many other things. Such a toolkit should be kept at a very accessible place at your house. To prepare this kit once the disaster has struck would be an unwise move as nothing works at the time of panic and chaos.

Important papers and documents like birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, and social security cards should always be kept in hand. These are important because in case you were to move to a new place, such documents would be required.

Get Rid of Potential Hazards

If your house is surrounded by trees in such a manner that they could potentially cause sizeable damage as a result of strong winds or vibration, they should be regularly trimmed or even cut down. Each member of the family should be trained to switch of electric and gas supplies in case they become dangerous.

Stay Up to Date with the News

One should always stay connected with the world and should stay up to date with reliable news sources. It is important to not get carried away by rumors and propaganda. Media always has a sharp eye on what is happening and can alert you in case there is a natural disaster on the horizon. You can then take appropriate measure of evacuation.

Disaster preparedness cannot stop something calamitous from happening but can surely help control the damage it will bring. Hence, it is important such disaster preparedness programs are held everywhere to educate the people about things to do when natural disasters strike.