There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites that inform all of us about how to prepare why we should prepare, what a disaster is and where to buy survival kits. What the sites do not always mention is the aftermath of a disaster. We watch the images on television and send money but what happens after we turn the television off or the new story of the day has turned to another bigger, better story. The images are burned in our minds from Katrina and Haiti of people crying, looking for their loved ones and holding dead babies in their arms.
The New Orleans area early morning August 29, 2005 faced a nightmare that no one could have predicted. The storm surge breached the city's levees at multiple points, leaving 80 percent of the city submerged, tens of thousands of victims clinging to rooftops, and hundreds of thousands scattered to shelters around the country. Three weeks later, Hurricane Rita re-flooded much of the area. The devastation to the Gulf Coast by these two hurricanes has been called the greatest disaster in our nation's history. Louisiana, 5 years later is still rebuilding and people are living in FEMA trailers.
Haiti, 6 months later is still in ruins because most of the government buildings are gone and donations have not found their way to those that need them desperately. Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in tent cities in Haiti.
One of the reasons it takes so long for funds and supplies to reach devastated areas is due to the lack of administrative services and coordination. If an area is destroyed as badly as Haiti was then there will be no post office, banks or people to do the coordination. Most of them will be busy trying to survive. Supplies to always keep on hand include emergency water supply, food supply and first aid kits.
Even though what happened in New Orleans was not an earthquake, the devastation is comparable. You can’t stop an earthquake from happening but you can make plans about what to do in the aftermath.
What is an earthquake?
An earthquake is the sudden movement of the earth's crust, created by the release of built-up stress that has accumulated along geologic faults in the earth. Earthquakes can also be caused by movement of magma and other volcanic activity. There are geographical areas that are susceptible to earthquake activity due to their proximity to these faults, particularly in California.
You may think you do not live in an earthquake zone but the reality is that earthquakes happen in the most unlikely places occasionally. We do not think of New England as an earthquake zone but Vermont and Maine have both experienced earthquakes in recent years.
Earthquake territory shows a chart of State and Territory maps produced by the United States Geological Survey. It is important to know if you are in an earthquake zone.