Natural disaster devastation

How natural disasters can devastate communities


A sky with ominous clouds, Photo courtesy of Matt Westervelt via Creative Commons.

Natalie Candland, Writer

On February 4, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 struck the coast of Puerto Rico. The island of Puerto Rico has been experiencing hits by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks since late December. The strand of consecutive natural disasters has devastated infrastructure, created water shortages and power outages, and caused thousands of people to flee to shelters. With this level of destruction in mind, it is important to be informed about how natural disasters really affect communities and the people who live in them. 

In under-developed countries, the impact of a natural disaster can be significantly more staggering. VOA News, a domestic and international news outlet, published an article about how natural accidents affect some more than others. “The poor are especially vulnerable to natural hazards because of their inadequate housing, fragile health, and lack of back-up resources in case of emergencies,” the article states. “Developed countries are just better prepared for natural disasters.” The article concludes by mentioning that although economic growth has been found to be the best protection against natural disasters, some places simply do not possess the resources necessary to be proactive against these tragedies.

Developed and urban areas can still be affected immensely, though. Despite the fact that being in a more developed area tends to provide better protection and more mature recovery programs, people can still be impacted no matter the population of their city. Not only can a natural disaster in a densely populated area cause mass panic, but the more people and buildings in one place, the more damage the disaster can cause. Natural disaster outcomes are not limited to physical consequences, though. Economic repercussions are just as important and jarring. Disasters can leave people homeless and without any of their past possessions. It can also be detrimental to businesses. If business fronts are destroyed, face-to-face transactions cannot be made. If customers do not have any money, there is no one to buy the business’s products. World Economic Forum, an economic news outlet, published an article about how natural disasters, such as earthquakes, can be deleterious to a community’s local economy. “Many businesses may find it difficult to remain in business in the post-earthquake environment. These firms may have voluntarily closed down…firms in this area would have sooner or later faced long-run problems such as difficulty in business succession and a decline in the local economy,” states the article. If small stores cannot stay in business, the local situation for many people can become troubling or for some even dangerous.

Helena Bartlett, a junior at Battlefield High School, lives in a fairly secluded and rural area. She shares how severe weather can be harmful and dangerous to someone with a home in a less accessible place. “Living in the country is fun, but can have side effects. For example, private roads mean the government does not take care of them. In the event of serious wind or snowstorms, power outages, fallen trees, and icy roads… it takes extra time for people to come and clear them, says Bartlett. “During Hurricane Sandy, my community was out of power for days with fallen trees. These events often leave property damaged and prevent people from doing what they need to.” It is evident that even in the most fortunate communities, Mother Nature does not play favorites. 

Natural disasters can happen at any time in almost any place. Although modern technology has aided in substantial advancements including tracking and prediction capabilities, nothing can stop the natural occurrences from striking. Whether natural disasters come in the form of a flood, an earthquake, a tsunami, a storm, or a heatwave, natural disasters can be detrimental to all societies in all walks of life.