Natural hazard is defined as the elements of the physical environment that are harmful to human beings and are normally caused by extraneous forces that are beyond human control. Natural hazards may include things like geologic, hydrologic, atmospheric and wildfire phenomena, and because of their location, frequency and severity they are bound to affect humans, their structures and their activities in general. It therefore goes without say that these hazards occur naturally and there is no kind of interference from mankind whatsoever.
Over the years, the United States of America has been experiencing several natural calamities that have not only caused deaths, but destroyed properties worth millions of dollars. One of such calamities is the hurricane (Kelly, 2009). This is a strong revolving storm that occurs mostly in tropical environments with winds of at least 74 mph speed. They are heavy low pressure areas that form over warm ocean waters in the summer and fall. These forces emanate from water vapour energy that is evaporated from the ocean surface. This water vapour is the pushing force behind the hurricanes, because it releases the latent heat of condensation and when it condenses, it forms clouds and rain, which heat the surrounding air (Stoffel, 2010).
The Crestview, Florida experiences in areas around the coast hurricanes more severe, as compared to other places. This area is safe except for people living in Florida, who have to deal with a hurricane or at least a threat of it.
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Causes of hurricanes
When the heat is released in tropical thunderstorms, it is carried away by wind shear that blows the top of the thunderstorms. Hurricane strength is based upon the wind speed it is producing, because the higher the speed of the wind, the more intense the hurricane (James, 2008).
Hurricane emergency plan
Hurricanes occur unexpectedly and some actions are advised to be taken in case of such occurrence. It is advisable to bring full awareness to the personnel on the ground of procedures to be followed when the calamity occurs. My plan will include the following:
- Have a dedicated staff and let them undergo training on an Emergency Response Team (ERT). These members should always be available before the storm so that they can implement the action plan and also respond after the storm for clean up and help the victims.
- You must have the telephone numbers and contacts for area offices for emergency preparedness response unit. It is advisable that you contact these persons earlier, to plan and coordinate activities before the emergency need arises.
- You should have fully installed backup systems. This may include two-way cell phones and radios and have diesel-driven generators or spare batteries on the site. This will help you not to lose important information in case of the calamity.
- For important records that guide the daily running of your operations, make earlier plans to protect those, installing fully updated antivirus programs or relocating them to other systems that are not in the network. Consider a location where operations can be relocated to if the current site is not conducive for normal running.
- Always keep a close contact on the ongoing supplies, repairs and contractor agreements that may be needed during and after the storm (Palm, 1990). It is advisable that you prefer contractors who are outside areas that are at risk of hurricane occurrences.
- Make board decisions and make emergency orders for supplies. Keep and maintain the trust of these contractors for the whole period of the hurricane season.
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It is important to effectively reduce the (James, 2008) loss of property, damage and loss of life in the event a natural disaster occurs:
- Clear the site and remove any remains that may pose an environmental risk. This will make the site secure and enable smooth operations.
- Take stock of the damages caused, so that you can plan on your path. This will help you have a clear path to follow on your way up again.
- Research and make a survey of the available hazards that may include leaking gas or flammable liquids, poisonous gases, live wires and any damage to underground piping and foundations. This will help you to locate the fire with ease.
- Repair all available damages to the sprinkler systems and acquire protection back in service the earliest possible after the hurricane.
- Get the personnel and notify the contractors to start repairs. Ensure full implementation of the safety precautions before any work is allowed. It will include proper cutting and welding procedures and in the same way make contractors share responsibilities for establishing fire-safe conditions before and during the whole procedure.
- Start the salvage as early as possible to prevent further damage. Also cover torn roof and broken windows immediately.
The United States experienced natural disasters and has suffered up to $ billion in losses, therefore it has set aside resources that will be used in case of a hurricane occurrence. Therefore, it goes without say that disaster preparedness is one important aspect of mitigating the impact of hurricane disasters when they occur (Tabler (Jr) & Florida, 2008). The process of disaster preparedness involves all the activities that are normally carried out before the catastrophe, so as to ensure maximum utilization of the available resources, relief and rehabilitation in every possible way. Normally the preparedness starts from the local community to the national level and, if needed, to the international level. If the resources are inadequate at the local level, the national level will step in, and if the national level is not able to handle the situation, then the international level will step in. In international level, other countries will offer their assistance to the affected country.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has come up with a national strategy called Project Impact that should be fully implemented by the year 2010 (Stoffel, 2010). The main objectives of these strategies are to increase the public awareness of the risks involved in natural hazards to reduce significantly the risk of loss of property, life economic cost and destruction of cultural and natural resources that have been caused by natural disasters. There are five key elements that are included so as to make the Project Impact to be a successful; (Bryant, 2005) namely: applied research and technology transfer, hazard identification and risk assessment, leadership and coordination, incentives and resources.
The mitigation action plan in federal agencies is supposed to apply the best mitigation practices to their own facilities that enable them complete a national natural hazard risk assessment (Palm, 1990). They should also develop partnerships so as to advance research, cost effectiveness measures, standards development, to provide incentives, and lastly, to spearhead a national public awareness campaign. The local and state governments must therefore come up with sustained administrative resources and structures, so as to mitigate the programs. In addition, they impose and adopt the building codes. They also ensure they put in place land use measures. They conduct public information campaigns on natural hazard awareness. Private industries and investors are made to accept the responsibility of knowing about natural hazards that might threaten their facilities, hence must come up with a strategy to reduce the risks that will be involved (Kelly, 2009). These plans have enabled communities to deal with disasters well, as compared to what they used to do initially. Currently, the communities and the public are well informed of how to deal with disasters in case they take place.
In conclusion, it is important to note that natural hazards occur naturally and man has played a very minimal role, if no role at all, towards the occurrence of disasters. Such natural disasters lead to loss of property and life and to destruction of property. It is also important to note that disaster preparedness is an important aspect of handling disasters whenever they occur. Disaster preparedness helps us to reduce the impact and effect of natural disasters, especially hurricanes when they occur. With the already developed, established and anticipated disaster programs, communities are able to prepare and recover faster. Despite this fact, we must not forget how severe the disaster is when it occurs. Therefore, it is paramount to always be prepared.
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