Society’s Vulnerability to Natural Hazards
PHS 100 Professor David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
May 6, 2009
Society’s Vulnerability to Natural Hazards Natural hazards are tragedies in themselves; destroying the environment,wiping out cities and devastating lives. Societies must prepare and assess their vulnerability to possible natural hazards and make appropriate plans. Understanding the environment, the social culture and economics of a society can be vital in eliminating, or at least minimizing some of the some of the catastrophic repercussions.I have personally been affected by a natural hazard. While it may not have been a nationally reported incident, it certainly wreaked havoc on my life as well and many others. Living in a city outside Sacramento, California, our winters were cold but nothing like those of Portland over the last few years and certainly not as cold those in the eastern part of the states. In 1990, we experienced a very hard freeze. While my home was newly constructed and well insulated, there was a section of pipe that had been missed.There was some warning that there would be freezing temperatures and warnings to wrap pipes. I had taken the necessary steps to the best of my knowledge. I decided to leave town since it was during the holidays, I was pregnant with my daughter, my son was three and my husband was serving in Desert Storm. I was woken in the middle of the night by a phone call from my neighbor who said they had broken into my house after seeing water running down my driveway. My house was flooded by a broken pipe in the ceiling.As the temperatures warmed, the section of piping that was not insulated had burst from the pressures producing a steady rush of water into the attic and eventually into the rest of the house. Water has its way of traveling everywhere. Over two-thirds of the house was damaged. The water not only came down through the ceiling, soaking the drywall, then pooling on the floor. With the carpet acting as a sponge, the water made its way back up the drywall.Because our area was not accustomed to this type of climate change, many homes were affected. Carpenters were in high demand. Some took advantage of the situation and were charging astronomical prices for the repair work and taking on more jobs than they should have which meant the repair time was longer. I was lucky enough to have great insurance. They were very supportive and understanding of my situation (which you would hope them to be). My son and I were put up in a hotel for two and a half months during the reconstruction of our home.This was a devastating time for my son and I, but nothing compared to natural disasters where family members are killed and personal possessions are destroyed. Even more devastating are the countries without the resources to notify their citizens of what is headed their way or the means to rebuild from the damage. Thankfully there are organizations such as the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). Their mission is “to mainstream disaster reduction and climate change adaptation in country development strategies to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards”.
ReferencesWithgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2008). Environment: The Science Behind Stories (3rd ed.). New York. Pearson Benjamin Cummings
Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) web site. Retrieved May 5, 2009. http://gfdrr.org/docs/GFDRR_Brochure_At_a_glance.pdf [pic]