Research Paper: Earthquake Risks and Hazards

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[. . .] In case of earthquakes it is not possible for the concerned authorities to reduce the force of the disaster. The authorities, therefore, are required to alter the environment in a manner that can withstand the shocks of earthquake. For this purpose mitigation can be divided into to two broad categories mandatory-structural mitigation and nonstructural mitigation. (Staff Members of the Directorate of Civil Defence & Home Guards, Government of Meghalaya, 2005)

Mandatory-structural Mitigation

Mandatory structural mitigation consists of the following techniques:

Risk Identification: Under this area the concerned authorities, on the basis of reliable and authentic data asses the risks that are associated with earthquakes. This may include assessment of property damage, assessment of risk of losing lives, assessment of the risks associated with the functionality of concerned departments and assessment of the risks associated with lack of awareness and training of community and citizens. In addition, at this stage the tools required to mitigate the risks are also studied and identified by the concerned authorities. (Staff Members of The World Bank National Disaster Coordinating Council East Asia And Pacific Region; Republic Of the Philippines Rural Development, 2010)

Development of Building Codes and Enforcements: These can be defined as legislations that have been developed by various governments to ensure that the contractors and construction companies construct buildings that are in alignment with the laws and ensure that these buildings would withstand the shocks of earthquakes. (Faculty Members of University of South Florida Honors College, 2011)

Resistant Construction: The new buildings are required to be constructed according to the architectural and building codes that have been developed to resist the shocks that are created by earthquakes. In addition, the material used in construction shall be reviewed and monitored appropriately and it shall be ensured that the material is of high quality. (Faculty Members of University of South Florida Honors College, 2011)

Reconstruction of Old Buildings: This step includes the reconstruction and alteration of the infrastructure of old buildings in manner that ensures that these buildings are strong enough to withstand the shocks of earthquakes. (Faculty Members of University of South Florida Honors College, 2011)

Nonstructural Mitigation

Following strategies are deployed by the concerned authorities under the head of non-structural mitigation:

The concerned authorities are required to develop an overall strategy with the basic aim of reducing the risks associated with earthquakes. The concerned authorities have to establish the fact that effective administration can reduce the damages caused by earthquakes. (U.S. Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey, 2014)

The concerned authorities must know the risks and then take actions to reduce those risks. They shall be prepared to confront uncertain situations and shall always remain active to take actions. (U.S. Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey, 2014)

Apart from that, all the levels of the government and the hierarchy shall take active part in the disaster mitigation processes. This enables the managing staff to communicate the objectives and goals of the plan throughout the hierarchy in an effective and efficient manner. (Col & Jay, 2007)

The national policies shall be developed in a proactive manner and shall be understood by each and every member of the community. In addition to that, the operational decision making activities shall be delegated to the lowest level of the hierarchy in the government structure. (Col & Jay, 2007)

Plans and strategies shall be developed by the local level administrators. These strategies shall be developed in a manner that enables the local level administrators to manage the changing and uncertain situations in an effective manner. (Col & Jay, 2007)

It shall be ensured that all the actions of communication shall remain open and active. This facilitates communication and enhances the understanding of the community. In addition to that, it also enables the community and authorities to share their perception of risks and facilitates the coordination of actions as well. (Staff Members of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Bank, 2007)

In addition to that, citizens shall also be involved in all the states of the development of emergency management strategies. This, as a result, would enhance the understanding of the citizens and would enable them in taking an active part in risk mitigation activities. (Staff Members of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Bank, 2007)

Apart from that, community-based participation is also regarded as one of the most effective and additional elements that lead towards effective mitigation of risks in relation to earthquakes. The increase in earthquakes and damages caused by them have promoted a culture of development of community-based risk mitigation plans. This enables the concerned authorities to develop a safe and effective environment at community level and reduce the pressure on wider levels of government as well. These practices divide the risk mitigation activities at group level and integrate them at a wider level for effective earthquake mitigation. (Victoria, 2009)

The table below demonstrates the steps that are generally taken by concerned authorities to mitigate the risks that are associated with earthquakes:

Before the Disaster

During the Disaster

After the Disaster

Check for the risks that might accompany earthquakes.

Identification of the safe places to which the people in danger can be moved.

Location of safe places outside the area under danger.

Spread understanding among the citizens in relation to the communication channels and the manner in which help could be sought during the earthquake.

Development of an emergency communication plan so that all the activities during the earthquake can be coordinated appropriately.

Develop alliances with foreign agencies to ensure effective mitigation of risk and security of people during the disaster.

High alerts in the emergency section of hospitals and confirmation that highly skilled staff is assigned to emergency tasks.

Active participation of all the members at all the level of government in risk mitigation activities.

Active participation of the community as well as the citizens in the management of earthquake hazards.

Development of effective strategies for the management of risks associated with aftershocks.

Communication to make people aware of the areas that are dangerous and confirmation that people stay out of those areas.

Inspection of the damaged areas and development of strategies that would enable the affected area to move back to their routine activities.

(McMillan, 1998)

Conclusion

As indicated by a number of studies, there has been a wide increase in the frequency and intensity of damages that are caused by earthquakes, as well as the frequency of occurrence of these disasters. The major reasons behind the increase in the frequency and intensity of damages are: increase in population density and urbanization of areas. This, as a result, requires the concerned authorities to develop more effective disaster mitigation strategies in relation to earthquakes. In the recent era, these strategies have been enhanced to include formal rules and regulations, reconstruction, resilient construction, community-based strategies and awareness programs. (Ganderton, 2005)

By enhancing the team efforts and empowering the people at the lower level of the hierarchy of government, these strategies can further be enhanced. This is because the lower level employees generally perform most of the operational activities during the disaster mitigation process and involvement of these people in the decision making process and development of strategies can have an influential and positive impact on their performance. This, as a result, would enhance the effectiveness of the overall and wider activities targeted towards the mitigation of risks that are associated with earthquakes. (Ganderton, 2005)

References

Col, J., & Jay, J. (2007). Successful Earthquake Mitigation in Qinglong County during the Great Tangshan Earthquake: Lessons for Hurricane Katrina in the United States. Chinese Public Administration Review, 7(1/2), 9-19.

Faculty Members of University of South Florida Honors College, (2011). A global assessment of large scale earthquakes: The impact of mitigation and preparation policies on the loss of human life, pp. 1-37. Tampa: University of South Florida Honors College.

Folger, P. (2013). Earthquakes: Risk, Detection, Warning, and Research, pp. 2-15. Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service.

Ganderton, P. (2005). Benefit-Cost Analysis of Disaster Mitigation: A Review, pp. 1-26. Paris: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Retrieved from http://www.unisdr.org/files/1076_BCAMitFIN.pdf

Hosseini, M., & Izadkhah, Y. (2006). Earthquake disaster risk management planning in schools. Disaster Prevention and Management, 15(4), 649 -- 661.

McMillan, C. (1998). Natural Disasters: Prepare, Mitigate, Manage. Csa.com. Retrieved 28 June 2014, from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/archives/ndht.php

Rafeeqi, S. (2006). ASPECTS OF EARTHQUAKE DISASTER MITIGATION-SPECIAL REFERENCE TO NON-ENGINEERED CONSTRUCTION. NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi.

Staff Members of Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, (2010). Costs and Benefits of Natural Hazard Mitigation, pp. 1-50. Washington, D.C: Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/haz_cost.pdf

Staff Members of New York City Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation, (2005). EARTHQUAKE RISKS AND MITIGATION IN THE NEW YORK | NEW JERSEY | CONNECTICUT REGION, pp. 2-48). New York: New York City Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation. Retrieved from https://mceer.buffalo.edu/infoservice/disasters/earthquake-risks-new-york.pdf

Staff Members of Pearson Education, (2014). The Largest Earthquakes in the United States | Infoplease.com.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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