Lisa L. Griggs
David Terrell Ph.D.
Warner Pacific College
June 23, 2011
Everyone faces the risk of natural disaster and no plan can increase society vulnerability to natural disasters. The most recent and numbing to watch was Hurricane Katrina. As I watch on television it seemed as everyone from the citizen’s to the state partners to federal government were not prepared for what was coming and what happen in the weeks that followed. I am sure there is no real way to execute a plan on that size to minimize the economically structural damage that was done. Once all is said and done after a natural disaster strikes there are lessons to be learned, learned in every disaster.
Like many American’s I have live through and watched many natural disasters. Two experiences of where I might have experienced a natural disaster both on a removed level. The first was when I was nine I lived in Spokane, Washington which sits east of Mount St. Helen’s when it exploded back in 1980. The second major event happen when I lived outside the Bay Area of California and the earthquake of 1989 known now as the Loma Prieta earthquake.
When Mount St. Helen’s erupted I only remember certain things about that day and the days that followed. I remember it was a sunny day and I was at my soccer game and the grown up were mumbling about something, and in a hurry to get home before…. Unaware on not caring because of my age I really did not understand the effect of a mountain’s eruption and its plume of ash would have on us. The next day, both my parents were still at home and remember them saying they had no work today and them telling school was canceled and the city was closed because of the “ash.” When I looked outside I saw gray dust cloud I reminded me of a cold winter day with heavy fog. The heavy fog of ash lasted what seemed like days and when we were finally able to go about our daily lives, we all had to wear those white surgical masks when we when outside because the air quality and its unknown effect of breathing in ash could have on people. I remember people shoveling ash like snow from sidewalks, driveways, spraying the ash with water which only left the ash a big pasty mess.
With the quake of 1989, I remember the way the ground below me move and watching the inside of our house sway and creek as the floor rolled beneath us. At the time we lived in Fairfield California about 100 miles away from the epi-center. It was a totally amazing and scary event to experience, but knowing that if we felt it we were close to the center or it was considered to be the “big” one. After, the novelty wearing off we all were glued to the television watching the reports of chaos to the disruption to the World Series happening at Candlestick stadium outside of San Francisco, hearing the Bay Bridge had expansion collapse, the footage of the Cypress structure outside of Oakland a two deck bridge, now pancaked and crumpling. I remember see all the devastation on television at the local level and people where trying to figure out the best method to get emergency service to the people closes to the mountain to how and where to start the clean up.
Both of these events at their times respectively were economically destructive as well as massed structural damage, “the May 18, 1980, event was the most deadly and economically destructive volcanic eruption in the history of the United States.” (Tilling, R., Topinka, L., Swanson, D.) While “the quake caused an estimated $6 billion ($11 billion in current value) in property damage, becoming one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history at the time.” (U.S. Geological Survey)
People who live in “tornado alley” or long the Gulf Coast and have tornado season after each season most people chose to rebuild they are learning to make those structural improvements to better withstand the damage after a windstorm. Those living along rivers are regulating new structures and home from being built located on flood plains and if they have been flooded, engineers are rebuilding structures located outside the flood plains. But the best way to minimize the effect is emergency preparedness working well with the city, county and state partners with the federal government.
One way for citizens to become more prepared to respond to potential emergencies including natural disaster is become educated on emergency preparedness Larry Collins a member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Urban search-and-rescue (US&R) says “to the contrary, decision makers in any region prone to earthquakes or other hazards will find important parallels in terms of the need for public awareness of local hazards; improved public education to help improve personal readiness of the affected population; well-oiled and robust, multi-tiered emergency response systems; the use of well-considered construction codes and ordinances to improve the performance of structures and lifelines; and the ability of all levels of government and the military to respond quickly, effectively and in unison during disasters.” (Collins, L.)
Where ever you live across American you cannot avoid natural disaster. On a whole from government to every day citizens we all have to take measures to prevent and minimize our vulnerability to endure those disasters. Be prepared, get educated.
Collins, Larry, “Lessons Learned from California Earthquake Exercise” my Firefighter Nation.com, retrieved on June 20, 2011 from http://my.firefighternation.com/profiles/blogs/lessons-learned- from?q=profiles/blogs/lessons-learned-from
Tilling, Robert I., Topinka, Lyn and Swanson, Donald A. (1990). "Eruptions of Mount St. Helens: Past, Present, and Future". The Climactic Eruption of May 18, 1980. U.S. Geological Survey (Special Interest Publication). http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/Publications/MSHPPF/MSH_past_present_fut ure.html. Retrieved June 20, 2011
Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, http://www.fema.gov/plan/index.shtm
U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Retrieved June 20, 2011 http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9C P0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6IeDdGCqCPOBqwDLG- AAjgb6fh75uan6BdnZaY6OiooA1tkqlQ!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfMjA wMDAwMDBBODBPSEhWTjJNMDAwMDAwMDA!/?navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJE CT&cid=stelprdb5199437&navid=091000000000000&pnavid=null&ss=110623&positio n=Not%20Yet%20Determined.Html&ttype=detail&pname=Mt%20St.%20Helens%20Na tional%20Volcanic%20Monument%20-%20Home
U.S. Geological Survey. San Andreas Fault, chapter 1, p. 5. "Comparison of the Bay Area Earthquakes: 1906 and 1989." Retrieved August 31, 2009 and June 21, 2011