Posted: March 24th, 2023

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness: Disaster Case Paper

Disasters are diverse in contemporary society. From history, various communities have witnessed different disasters ranging from earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, heatwaves, oil spills, among others. The nature of disasters informs accidents of catastrophe that occur beyond human control. Therefore, these natural disasters come with untold risks to the environment, humans, and animals. As a result, it is imperative to understand the causes of disasters, the correct mechanism to address them, and the best practices for emergency management. Since the focus of disaster management is to map out early preparedness and thus arrest the adverse effects of disasters, by evaluating five disaster cases, the report outlines how each disaster occurred, its impact, and efforts to mitigate the emergences.

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San Francisco Earthquake

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and 1989 had a considerable magnitude that caused continuous tremors and fire. The effect of the earthquake was causing a humanitarian crisis leaving the city in rubbles. The greatest catastrophe emerges as one of the notable disasters in the history of humankind. According to Molina (2019), the earthquake reached the magnitude of 8.3 on Richter’s scale and lasted for a minute. As the earthquake broke the primary water system, it also caused many emergency impacts on the entire city. The firefighters worked harder to drown the fires with dynamites and black dust. San Francisco Earthquake is among the natural disaster in the history of America owing to the severe damage that the city faced and the cost of damages it inflicted.

Uncovering the disaster is the primary focus of disaster management. In San Francisco Earthquake, the literature suggests that analyzing the cause and consequences that the city faced created the pathway for disaster management. Understanding the implications of the disaster helps to know the events that led to the earthquake. Therefore, San Francisco Earthquake occurred due to the fault lines at the epicenter in the Santa Cruz Mountains, almost 60 miles to the southeast of San Francisco city. The earthquake led a devastating impact on property and human lives. Accordingly, more than 3700 people sustained various injuries, with eleven dying (Molina, 2019). Also, more than 12,000 people became homeless as catastrophe destroyed property worth billions. The San Francisco fire department had experienced almost 36, with 34 percent of the fire incidences directly occurring due to the earthquakes (Molina, 2019).  After the disaster, the entire San Francisco city faced power outages. Several buildings collapsed with the oak-land Bay bridge buckling, thus paralyzing transport services.

Communication was ineffective given the sporadic telephone services. As a result, the tremor triggered a tsunami in Monterey Bay. Therefore, with the tsunami, some areas suffered sea landslides, leading to 3 feet drop in sea level at Santa Cruz. Before the San Francisco earthquake, Oakland’s Firefighting stations had not experienced the pressure to respond to the magnitude of the disaster. Because of the power failure, the communication loss characterized the rescue mission’s challenge (Valenzuela, 2020). For this reason, the initial response of the fire dispatch center involved directing resources according to the demand at that time to take care of the disaster situation. Therefore, all the Oakland fire fighting companies provided the fifteen engines and enough firefighting staff members.

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The San Francisco disaster department responded with emergency measures. The focus was to save lives by evacuating the affected and laying plans to start reconstructing the nation. Although the rebuilding process was slow, the city managed to arrest the impacts of the severe earthquake (Molina, 2019). For this reason, San Francisco and the State government used the incident command system and Emergency Operations Center principles in managing the 1989 San Francisco earthquake impacts. The emergency operation center coordinated the entire emergency response and disaster management on the catastrophe’s areas. Before the earthquake hit San Francisco, the Federal and State agencies had plans to relocate the operation center for the city. The justification was that Oakland Hills was near the faulty zone, creating challenges for the emergency response (Gomez, 2017). In addition, California rescue and fire mutual aid systems responded to the impacts of fire outbreaks. Following the earthquake, the State and Federal agencies dispatched a team of experts to fight the fires, rescue the people and save the property (Valenzuela, 2020). The principle of the emergency response indicates the stakeholders’ effort to use infrastructure resources to address the catastrophe and restore the environment, humans, and property to the original state.

Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Andrew was a tropical cyclone that ravaged south-central Louisiana, Southern Florida, and the Bahamas in 1992. The hurricane emerged as the most effective Atlantic hurricane in the history of the U.S. Hurricane Andrew struck the target areas with the 130-mph storm surge. The impact of such a height of 15 feet in excess was havoc to several people who lost their lives and property.  It is imperative to point out that Hurricane Andrew was among the deadly natural disasters to have hit the U.S, thereby destroying property worth 20 million dollars in 1992 (Gomez, 2017). Hurricane Andrew began as a tropical depression in Cape de Verde. The National Hurricane Center of the U.S National Weather Service classified it as a tropical storm. For this reason, the storm traveled northwest across the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical hurricanes have atmospheric pressure below 1,000 millibars (Gomez, 2017). Hurricane Andrew was a category five storm on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. It blew on with winds of 161 miles per hour.

Hurricane Andrew had a severe impact on humans, property, and the environment. As it passed through the Bahamas and the U.S South Coast, it left significant structural damage to trees and buildings due to its strong winds. In south Louisiana, the Bahamas, and Florida, the cyclone left brunt impacts on people, leaving approximately 250,000 people homeless in Dade County (Gomez, 2017). Overall, about 26 people died, with over 25,000 homes destroyed while 100,000 others suffered a series of damages.

The state and federal departments of disaster and emergency response operated on the fundamental principles of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Before Hurricane Andrew occurred, stakeholders realized that there is no level of preparedness that can eliminate the potential threat t of hurricanes. The states had an active approach to responding and mitigating Hurricane Andrews’ devastations. It adopted several preventive measures that saw hundreds of thousands of people calling for rescue (Valenzuela, 2020). The severe storm surged on with wind damage, and thus, the Florida state built a resilient by design approach to help other stakeholders with withstanding the storm’s impact. The state established Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund to mitigate the impact by spreading the risks through mandatory reinsurance.

The greatest challenge for demonstrating an effective emergency response was the failure to track the hurricane. Primarily, the disaster agencies in Florida focused on forecasting the probability measures as part of the interventions to track the hurricane intensity. Although Hurricane Andrew varied its intensity across the areas in hit, foresters used rapid identification systems to monitor it. The authorities believed that the forecast would help in disaster planning and mitigation (Gomez, 2017). However, the lack of wireless communication devices made it challenging for the authorities to know how and when the hurricane would strike.


Northridge Earthquake

Northridge Earthquake was a disaster that shook the earth at the magnitude of 6.7 on the annual day of Martin Luther King. The nature of the earth’s quakes depends on how they strike. Therefore, the impact depends on the rough ground causing the ground to erode, twist and uplift. The factors that made Northridge Earthquake predicted were that it was inculpable (Valenzuela 2020).  The earthquake caused part of the Santa Monica freeway to suffer huge damages with the collapse of the interstate, occurrence of fires from the eruption of valves and gas mains, and structural damages of building.  Although the emergency response team had coordinated efforts, the entire Long Angeles established shelters, assisted with the emergency supply of humanitarian products, clean water, and authorities sought to return life to normalcy by restoring power (Valenzuela, 2020). Therefore, the city maintained the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan that outlined the hazards of the earthquake, assessed the impact, and created different rescue missions.

Northridge Earthquake was the most tragic moment in the history of American. After the earthquake, several people had died. However, it exposed how vulnerable the building infrastructure was and other fault lines in the city. The Los Angeles Disaster Preparedness Unit started the operation of saving lives (Valenzuela, 2020). It assigned a wide range of resources, enhancing communication networks and dispatching officers to monitor the situation on the ground. The priority of emergency response was to save a life with paramedic services taking the injured to hospital and rescuing others.

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