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Natural Disasters

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Natural Disasters

As a teenager who grew up in the Bay Area on top of the San Andreas Fault, I have grown to become used to earthquakes. That is, I have grown accustomed to experiencing minor tremors. I have never experienced any quake strong enough to cause any major damage; such as the earthquakes that struck Haiti and Japan. In my lifetime I have felt, roughly, fifty to sixty earthquakes. To someone who grew up in the middle of America that may seem like a lot; but in reality, it isn't as scary of a number as it may seem. It may even be more than that. That number includes only minor quakes that I may not have even felt; earthquakes that caused no damage at all. Almost every day there are small earthquakes throughout California along the fault that no one may have ever felt.

Although I may have a lot of experience with earthquakes, I learned a lot of new information that I didn't previously know. I assumed that any and all earthquakes were considered natural disasters. defines a natural disaster as "a natural event with catastrophic consequences for living things in the vicinity." As this definition shows, I was way off in my interpretation of natural disasters. Various types of natural disasters include earthquakes, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis. Earthquakes and hurricanes are the most common of the few listed above. Those are the ones we hear about most often. When I think of the biggest natural disasters I have heard about, three of them jump into my head immediately: Hurricane Katrina, the Japan earthquake and the Haiti earthquake. Sometimes natural disasters can lead to other catastrophic events. This was the case with the Japan earthquake. The Japan quake occurred approximately 43 miles off the coast of the Oshika Peninsula. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami which flooded parts of Japan with large amounts of water. It was just one disaster that led to two others which, in turn, caused great destruction to many parts of Japan. The quake led to a tsunami, which led to the flood. This one huge disaster took more than fifteen thousand lives, while injuring close to six thousand making it one of Japan's and one of the world's deadliest disasters.

In today's society, people are intrigued by disaster. That is why when one occurs they will begin to think of one thing: "How many people were either killed or injured". After that, they will learn about how much damage was done to the area of the disaster. Once these thoughts have gone through people's heads they start to forget the natural disaster entirely. The event will begin to fade from people's thoughts; but the ones who were directly affected from the disaster are still in a great mess. What happens afterwards can injure or take the lives of many people even after the earthquake, flood or hurricane took place. What people don't understand is the aftermath of a natural disaster is almost as worse as the disaster itself. People are put in incredibly difficult situations where they must continue to take care of themselves when resources are extremely limited. Individuals are not provided with the good living conditions they might have had before the disaster took place. Resources such as food, clean water and health supplies are all in very short supply; while they are also in such high demand. Some people may survive the initial disaster, but are then put in dangerous situations because they can't obtain the goods and materials they need in order to survive. Mothers and fathers are forced to keep themselves alive, while at the same time trying to provide for their kids. After a disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, many stores and restaurants where people get their food can be destroyed. As a result of this people have a hard time getting food for themselves and other family members. The situation is very similar for medical supplies. After a hurricane anybody within the area can develop many different types of health problems such as, E. coli, tetanus, leptospirosis and even food poisoning. It may be physical injuries caused directly from the disaster, or sicknesses such as tetanus, or bacterial diseases. After disasters parasites, viruses and bacteria all can cause illnesses. Sophie Johnson, a writer/contributor for, brings up a good point of what happens after a disaster. "Bacterial illnesses include sickness from E. coli, leptospirosis, which can cause liver failure and kidney damage, and Legionnaires' disease, which reproduces in warm, stagnant water, the kind of water trapped in water systems that stand unused after natural disasters" (Johnson). The effects after a disaster on food and water can become extremely dangerous. Water starts to begin to grow with bacteria and viruses that can cause people to become very sick. People put themselves in harmful situations because in a time when they need water, they will do whatever it takes to get some in their system. That also means when they get a chance to drink any sort of water they will jump on that opportunity; even if it is dirty. The problem water causes after a natural disaster is that even though it may look clean and sanitary, it could still be infected with bacteria that could cause sicknesses. When people drink this water that they think is clean they may develop a sickness or infection that can lead to death. "Unfortunately, during times of flood, stranded people often find themselves forced to come in contact with such water, having to swim or wade through it to escape. Additionally, cleaning up after the disaster means handling items that may have soaked in contaminated water" (Johnson). Johnson, in her statement here, discusses that even if people don't consume the water infested with bacteria they can still catch the different types of illnesses.

One of the most deadly infections/illnesses people can develop after a natural disaster is tetanus. It is deadly because it can easily go unnoticed for a long amount of time; and even when it does get noticed medical supplies are in short supply. Majid Afshar, Mahesh Raju, David Ansell and Thomas P.Bleck are all physicians. Afshar is from the Maryland Medical center while Raju, Ansell and Bleck are from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. In their article the discuss tetanus. They discuss and bring up points of how tetanus can be received and how to possibly treat it. Tetanus is an expected complication after a natural disaster strikes. Large amounts of infections occur after tsunamis and earthquakes. The disasters cause physical damage to human beings giving them small and large injuries. Even the smallest of a scrape can end up being detrimental to one's health. Tetanus is caused when wounds are contaminated with



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