The author of the article, Coping mechanism, Haines Falls, gives an insight of how the Hurricane Irene a natural phenomenon which involves wind moving at extremely high speeds that causes physical damage to the environment including interfering with constructions, structures and buildings. The high speed winds that are warm across the ocean towards land collect moisture and do not drop until the winds rise up the Catskill Mountains to form precipitation that falls as rain when heavy enough. As attractive as the scenery might be atop the mountain in form of beautiful rivers and waterfalls, its thin topsoil that is covering the bedrocks does little to support absorption of the waters. This is true because the thin top soil does not have plants with deep roots and neither does the bedrock have enough permeable rocks that can be able to move the waters or absorb some of it. This inevitably causes floods in the towns situated down the mountains namely; Palenville, Lexington, Windham and Pratsville.
Earlier, the caretaker who lives up the mountains had tried to clear the streambeds off obstacles like loose rocks and stray branches to ensure smooth water flow downhill. Learning from this, it is our responsibility to clear our waterways; both artificial like culverts and drains in our basements and natural as rivers and streams. Preservation of vegetation cover is essential too, unlike the Hemlock forest clear cutting of trees. This is important because the vegetation act as windbreakers and also absorb some of the water content in the soil. They further slow down the movement of water downhill allowing the soil and permeable rocks to have more time in absorption. The time being referred to is known as concentration time. This is the duration water gets out of the furthest/highest resting point known as the watershed to its outlets such as streams or rivers. When the concentration-time is short, the chance of flooding is high. This is what happened during the Hurricane Irene that made the Schoharie Creek burst its bank lines. Therefore, streams grew bigger into rivers and merged to sweep houses, properties and structures along with their flow.
Hurricane Irene is a natural hazard which caused a natural disaster. A natural disaster is defined as a happening that results from natural hazards or forces of nature which eventually cause substantial damage or significantly alter the ways of lives of a huge population of humans. The effects are normally over large extents of geographical area. The strong winds caused damages to properties and basic facilities that either killed civilians or injured some. However the gradual floods were the main destruction factors.
The government made both the right and wrong choice depending on which perspective it took. Its basic function is to oversee the welfare of its citizens first and nothing is more precious than human lives. Therefore, as much as evacuations are costly and interferes with normal lives of citizens, if it they lead to saving the same lives, then they are justified (Officer & Page, 2009). Looking at it from the citizens perspectives, I think the government was wrong. This act of forceful evacuations denied citizens a chance to understand some preventive measures and disaster management practices. It is not always possible for the government to save lives day in and day out. The government cannot always get to everyone in good time thus it is important to consider individual citizen inputs and also work on disaster controls. In my opinion, I think the government should only resort to evacuation as the last option because developing an educated society is a much more important step than evacuations. Empowering citizens on developing personal preventive measures concerning natural disasters gives them the confidence to act long before the government does anything including setting up personal evacuation plans.
I think natural disasters are getting worse both from increasing intensity and frequency of happening and basing on artificial interference with the natural environment through environment unfriendly, human activities such as lumbering and mining. Lumbering involves the cutting down of trees for their logs also known as logging. As discussed, this makes the earth weak because the roots hold soils together firmly and also assist in their aeration. The permeability of the soils is mainly determined by organic matters and aeration that is done by natural vegetation. Mining not only depletes the soils off its minerals but equally weakens the grounds and can form artificial water basins that can be dangerous through making the soil more wet than necessary. Chances of mud and landslides are thus increased.
The pollution of waterways through filthy industrial discharge that is untreated and air emissions from factories has increased the rate of desertification and global warming phenomenon. Water pollution is mostly caused by increased acidity which affects the soil capacity to support vegetation growth (Fitzpatrick, 2006). Global warming can be defined as a general increase in environmental temperatures that causes decreased humidity on the planet earth. This is very dangerous because it depletes the natural earth’s watersheds supply of water thus a change in the overall weather and climate patterns to hotter and drier ones. The global changes have definitely made the environment less resistant to natural disasters.