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Comparing Technological and Natural Disasters

A Natural disaster is a consequence which comes about as a result of a natural hazard and leads to the destruction of property as well loss of life. Natural disasters encompass those incidences of floods, volcanic eruptions, drought, landslides and earthquakes among others; these are occurrences which no man has control over. But because of the human vulnerability involved, it calls for disaster preparedness to avert any dangers caused. Technological disasters on the other hand are those incidences that have been engineered by man with an intention of inflicting harm to a particular group of people, for instance terrorism (Podany, p. 75).

If either of these kinds of hazardous situations coincides with vulnerability, a disaster occurs, leading to; human, environmental and financial loss, especially in a poorly planned setting. These ensuing losses vary widely and depend on the population’s capacity to resist or support the disaster (Myers, pp. 81-87). This paper will first zero in on the disaster level that the Hurricane Katrina in Indiana and the 9/11 bombing caused before looking at the overall difference that exist between natural and technical and finally, the paper will analyze these situations based on the vulnerabilities of the public involved. Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina took place in the year 2005 resulting into a devastating state to the U. S. Katrina is among the five deadliest natural disasters to have rocked the United States in the countries history and ranked the sixth worldwide (Bankoff, p. 37). It was reported to have originated from Bahamas and crossed through Southern Florida where it caused a few deaths and minor floods. However, the major landfall of the hurricane was at Southern Louisiana and New Orleans Louisiana where it resulted to severe damage of property running into millions of dollars and thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDP) as well as hundreds of deaths.

This loss was attributed to failure of the levees which failed to keep the water at bay [Engineering design gone sour] (Barton et al. ,13). Most of the residents were also reported to have resisted evacuation orders to leave their homes and flee to safer grounds. They only began to scramble for their lives when it was already too late. Reports indicate that more that 80% of the City was submerged in water for weeks. The death toll stood at 1, 836. The financial cost on the U. S government was revealed to have reached $81. 2 billion, making it the costliest tropical cyclone in the history of U.

S (Alexander, pp. 23). The 9/11 Terrorist Bombing The year 2001 in the morning of the eleventh day of September will always remain a memorable day in the history of Americans and the entire world. This was the day when the Al-Qaeda (an Islamic terrorist group) carried out a series of coordinated attacks upon the United States (Fouda et al. , pp. 158-159). The group had hijacked four American passenger jet airliners and loaded them with explosives then crashed two of them on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre located in New York City.

The building crumbled to the ground within two hours accompanied by two others in its immediate neighborhood and destroying several others as well (Wright, pp. 309-315). Everyone on board in the planes died; several people who were working in the building died too as well as other individuals who were attending to their personal businesses around the scene. The third plane crushed into the Pentagon while the fourth landed in an open area near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Investigative report hold it that the fourth plane had been directed to Washington, DC, but thanks to the passengers and the flight attendants who tried to take over the plane from the hijackers; their action saved the country…but they all lost their lives. Were it not for that attempt by the crew, there could have been more fatalities and loses (Wilgoren et al. , pp. 117-145). Apart from the 19 hijackers, a total of 2,974 people lost their lives in the four attacks, with majority of them being civilians (including 90 people of different nationalities).

24 people are still listed to be missing up-to date (Clarke, pp. 13-14). The loss was so devastating to America and the whole world at large; away from the deaths, the attacks led into an economic loss which ran into billions of dollars. Several months later after the attacks, some reports are being released to link numerous emerging lung cancer conditions to the fumes that emanated from the explosives used in the attacks. To this effect the report holds the total deaths from the attacks at more than 6,000 deaths; but only 1,600 people could be identified (Wisner, 306). Differences of the two Disasters

The two incidences though both represent disasters; they are different in several ways than one. They might have both resulted to loss of life and destruction of property, but their causes were quiet different. While the Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster (an act of God) which no man could have prevented, the 9/11 attack was planned, initiated and carried out by men (men with little or no conscience at all). No amount of reasoning can justify evil of such nature, whether it was out of hate, envy, remorse or revenge, killing innocent non-combatants is unacceptable.

While Katrina only affected people who happened to be in its path, the 9/11 attack was very selective. The four planes were directed to specific targets, which the terrorists believed were highly populated and full of prominent people working in the government of United States. The idea of Osama bin Laden was to simply ground any operation in the United States. While the 9/11 could be avoided, Katrina could only have its resultant effects be reduced by proper disaster preparedness. Atrocities planned by man are very hard to counter and get prepared for because the masterminds can change their plans and displace the laid down counter steps.

The estimated magnitude or the scale of damage that a technical disaster can cause cannot be predicted since the victims have no knowledge of what the attackers have in store. On the other hand a natural disaster can be measured and its eventual effects of damage can be known long before it strikes. The ability to determine the extent of damage and detect an occurrence of a natural disaster days or weeks before it strikes allows for preventive measures to be taken to minimize the loss from natural disasters (Umstead, p. 6).

The country can prepare to relocate mobile assets and evacuating people. Vulnerability of the people in the two incidences The degree of vulnerability in any disastrous event can escalate if the affected area is highly populated and contains items that are most likely to fuel the danger. For the 9/11 attack, several things acted in favor of the terrorists, the jet fuels and the debris from the crumbling buildings helped raise the death toll, while for the Katrina, the fact that the Cities fell within the Hurricanes’ path made it possible to reach a highly good population.

Another factor is the possible weakness of buildings which might give in with just a slight force; unwillingness of the people to evacuate their homes and flee for their lives in Louisiana contributed in raising the death toll. Reports indicate that several people ignored the evacuation calls by the government. “President Bush pleaded with the people to honor the evacuation order to no avail” (Clarke. P. 35). Most of the residents believed that it was their obligation to protect their property against any form of damage and it did not occur to them that the floods would be overwhelming to the extent that would drive them out of their homes.

Questions are being raised if a technical disaster like the 9/11 could be factored in when building a significant building like the WTC, so that it could be able to resist attacks of similar nature. To minimize casualty, protective devices should be used by the rescue team and some should be made available to the people being rescued. Buildings should be constructed in such a way that they have emergency exits to helping such scenarios. It was found out that the exit leading to the root top of the WTC had been locked making it impossible for people to access the rescue helicopters on the rooftop.

The thick smoke emanating from the burning building made the rescue mission even tougher; leading to a further loss of nearly 411 volunteer rescue workers (Wisner, pp. 234-301). The levees that were meant to keep the flood under control failed, rendering Louisiana vulnerable to floods. Lack of resources can greatly jeopardize a countries response to disaster. This means there will be less staff to attend to the affected; no money to feed or compensate the victims and no enough medical facilities to attend to the injured…the list is endless. Lack of these necessary facilities may lead to more fatalities.

The more a country has in terms of resources, the faster it will be able to recover from such a tragedy and revert to the rebuilding itself once again. The United States as it is known with its booming resources only rebuilt itself through the help of the international community who donated aid of all kinds (http://ustoday. com/news/world/2005-09-02-katrinaworldhelps_x. htm). So what of a poor Third World country left a lone? Conclusion This essay has determined that a natural disaster may not be exclusively natural as may be perceived by many.

Incidences like those of chronic lack of food or famine cannot occur without a combination of some human factors. The Katrina case represents a natural disaster fueled by human mistakes (levees failure and stubbornness of people to evacuate). Such natural incidences can not be wholly voided but only its impacts could be reduced through proper disaster preparedness and management. The 9/11 attack was purely a criminal act carried out because of some selfish gain. This applies for all the other technical disasters.

Such incidences of terrorism can be avoided if only everyone in the world acts with corporate interest…this can only be achieved when all the countries unite to root out leaders who are promoting such criminal acts. But for whatever nature of disaster–whether natural or technical, preparedness is mandatory to reduce the vulnerability and loss. Work Cited Alexander, D. (2002). Principles of Emergency planning and Management. Harpended: Terra Publishing. pp. 10-44. Bankoff, G. Frerks and Hilhorst, D. (eds. ) (2003). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. pp. 34-51. Barton, P. John and Wellheiser, G.

Johanna, (Eds. ). (1985). An Ounce of Prevention: A Handbook on Disaster Contingency Planning for Archives. Toronto, Canada: Toronto Area Archivists Group Education Foundation. pp. 14-17. Clarke, A. Richard. (2004). Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terrorism. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 13–14. Fouda, Yosri and Nick Fielding. (2004). Masterminds of Terror. Arcade Publishing. pp. 158-159. http://ustoday. com/news/world/2005-09-02-katrinaworldhelps_x. htm Myers, James N. and Bedford, Denise D. , (Eds. ). (1980). Disasters: Prevention and Coping. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries. pp. 81-87. Podany, Jerry. (1991).

Emergency Preparedness Plan: Developing One and Practicing It-Natural Disaster Mitigation. Albuquerque: New Mexico). pp. 65-87. Umstead, Daniel. (1990). Central New York Disaster Recovery Resource Guide. Central NewYork Library Resources Council. Pp. 5-11. Wilgoren, Jodi and Edward Wong. (2001). On Doomed Flight, Passengers Vowed To Perish Fighting. The New York Times. pp. 117-145. Wisner, B. , Blaikie, P. , Cannon T. , and Davis, I. (2004). At Risk – Natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters. Wiltshire: Routledge. pp. 234-307. Wright, Lawrence (2006). The Looming Tower. Alfred P. Knopf. pp. 309–315.

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