Saturday, April 12, 2014

Society's Vulnerability to Natural Disasters by Roxanne Wyant

We live in the Northwest with the beauty surrounding us, the agriculture, forests not to mention the springtime when the area is full of the beautiful blooming trees and flowers. My personal favorite time of year here; the green even on a rainy or snowy day is still prevalent.  I wonder how many of us take all of this for granted. We are also in the area of multiple volcanos, I think if we stopped to think about what this could entail we could be a little frightened of all this beauty, and how fast it could all be gone. However, where would we go, we have flash floods in the desert, mudslides on the side of mountains or hills, tornadoes in the plain states, levees break in the south, etc. I think we get the idea. There is natural disaster all around us.
Just how many volcanoes are there in the Northwest? The Cascade Volcanoes, also known as the Cascade Volcanic Arc stretches from British Columbia to Northern California a span of over 700 miles. There are major cities along the way and encompass a population of more than 10 million people. The Cascade Arc includes nearly twenty major volcanoes and over the last 37 million years has been erupting a chain of volcanoes, which has created our the mountain ranges in the area.
These volcanoes have proven that they can erupt, as on May 18, 1980, when Mt. Saint Helen blew up the entire north face of the mountain, rising 60 thousand feet into the air causing mudslides as far away as the Columbia River, nearly fifty miles to the Southwest. The eruption was also responsible for depositing ash over eleven U.S. states.
I lived in Salt Lake City, UT at the time but my parents were staying at the John Day Dam at the time. My Aunt, Uncle, Mom and Dad all had their trailers parked in the parking lot at the damn they were heading for my other Aunt and Uncles farm in Othello, WA.  I did see ash fall from the sky in Salt Lake but my relatives were right in the thick of it. The ash would clog the air filters in the cars and you would have to stop to clean them out before you could travel a few more miles. When my parents returned home, they related the story of what they experienced. They finally made it to Othello, WA; a little farming community located about 185 miles from Mount Saint Helen. In Othello, the air quality was so bad no one was to go outside without a mask. Breathing the ash caused multiple respiratory incidents flooding the tiny emergency room of the local hospital.
The cleanup took years and caused devastation to this farming community. They were not alone, in Pullman, Washington the ash was so deep they used snow shovels to try to clean up the mess. Fifty-seven people were killed or missing according to Live Science.
The eruption, which removed the upper 1,300 feet of the summit, left a horseshoe-shaped crater and a barren WASTELAND. Today the land is healing, having recovered its natural beauty, but the landscape has been permanently altered. (Bagley, 2013, para. 1)
There have been minor eruptions over the past century and will probably be more in the next century or possibly another major eruption. There is much marketing in the media today to make sure we have emergency rations and supplies. If this ever happens, we need an emergency plan; the rule of thumb according to the Emergency Preparedness Center, Inc. is we need at least seventy-two hours of food for each member of the household, including pets. You should also store at least one half gallon of water per day for each person in your family.
How do we keep safe from natural disasters? We cannot always do this but we can be prepared in the event of a natural disaster by always thinking about safety wherever you go in the Northwest whether it is hiking, skiing or hunting in our beautiful area.

No comments: