The factors affecting the impact of a disaster include;
Natural factors - things like rock type in an earthquake, the shape of a coastline in a tsunami, the height of the land hit by a tsunami can impact the effects. For example, a gently sloping coastline will often suffer more damage than a steep coastline in a hurricanes storm surge.
Population density - the greater the number of people in an area the greater the potential for disaster. Therefore, an earthquake in Alaska will have less impact than one which hits a more densely populated area such as San Francisco.
Magnitude - the size of the event massively affects the impact it has. A hurricane of magnitude 5 will have more impact than that which has a magnitude 3, whilst every step up the Earthquake Richter scale represents a 10 fold increase in damage and a 30 fold increase in energy released.
Frequency - how often the hazard occurs. The more often a hazard occurs generally the more prepared people are, and the more used to coping they are.
Level of development - this determines how much money is available to PREPARE for the event in advance in terms of predicting the hazard and PREPARING people to cope with it, and also determines how the country RESPONDS after the event, wealthy places tend to respond quicker.
Time - the amount of time since the last hazardous event can influence the impact, if a long time goes by people can be unprepared. Also, if the hazard occurs when lots of people are asleep they can also be unprepared.
Preparations - if a place is well prepared regardless of its level of development this can limit the impact of a hazardous event. In India, despite its low level of economic development, rounded wooden houses have been designed to be earthquake proof, thus limiting the impact of these hazards.
Below is some background data for storms which hit New Orleans USA (MEDC) and Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar (LEDC). See if you can identify how the storms differed in their damage and WHY
|Hurricane Katrina||Cyclone Nargis|
|Date||August 29th 2005||May 2nd 2008|
|Wind speeds||285 km per hour – Category 5||215km per hour – category 4|
|Size of storm surge||8.5 metres||At least 4 metres|
|Relief of coastline affected||Low lying Mississippi delta||Low lying Irrawaddy delta, an area of islands and rivers|
|Number of deaths||1836 deaths||At least 138,000 people, this official death toll from the Burmese government is rumoured to be too low|
|Number of homeless||60,000||3.2 million people|
|Economic costs||Over $100 Billion||$10billion|
|Responses||The hurricane was spotted and tracked by the National Hurricane centre. Mass evacuation orders were made, 1,000 people were bussed out of New Orleans an hour. The response after the storm was criticised for being slow, numbers but the US army did arrive to help.||Despite India tracking the cyclone it hammered the Burmese coast with little notice given to the Burmese people, who have low levels of technology and low literacy rates.|
|Aid received||Internal aid from FEMA, a branch of the US government was $85 billion. The US corps. of engineers set about draining New Orleans immediately||Burma refused initial aid attempts from foreign countries for 2 days, and only then allowed in people with Visas. Eventually, India, Italy, Bangladesh, Malaysia, The UK and USA committed troops, food aid and cash to the country|
Find out more