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Introduction to Disasters
 A disaster interrupts the functioning of a society. They have many forms from
natural to human intervention induced. A disaster affects natural life adversely
by killing thousands of people and other lives. It also destroys a wide range of
habitat and property.

 Natural disaster includes earthquake, landslide, hurricane, tornado,

eruptions of volcanoes, fires / wild fire, flood and cyclones, etc. Human
induced disasters include wars, deforestation, unplanned growth or
constructions and other actions affecting life.

 Chances of natural disasters are more in highly populated areas and

environment get negative impacts by increased population density. Disaster
prone areas become even more vulnerable to disasters by increased human
interventions and less precautions for disaster management.

 Disasters to be managed can be of various types like –

• Earthquake, volcano eruptions and land slides are of geophysical origin.
• Flood, wild fire, cyclone, tornado, drought and locust are of climatic origin.
Disaster management
 Disaster management is a multidisciplinary area in which a wide
range of issues that range from forecasting, warning, evacuation,
search and rescue, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation are
included. It is also multi-sectoral as it involves administrators,
scientists, planners, volunteers and communities. These roles and
activities span the pre-disaster, during disaster and post disaster plans.
Since their activities are complementary as well as supplementary to
each other there is a critical need for coordinating these activities.

 Disaster management deals with preparing for these disasters

and trying to stop these disasters to occur. It might not sound
feasible to control nature to prevent occurrence of natural disasters
but steps could be undertaken to reduce the effects of these
disasters by formulating proper disaster management programme and
reduce its affect on humans, other living things, property and
economy as a whole.
From management to
mitigation of disasters
 Till very recently the approach towards dealing with natural disasters
has been post disaster management or reactive mechanism which
involves problems such as evacuation, warnings, communications,
search and rescue, fire-fighting, medical and psychiatric assistance,
provision of relief, shelter, etc.

 However destruction from natural hazards can be minimized by the

presence of a well functioning warning system combined with
preparedness on part of the community that will be affected. Thus
though traditionally disaster management consisted primarily of
reactive mechanisms, the past few years have witnessed a gradual shift
towards a more proactive, mitigation based approach.
• Disaster management is a multidisciplinary area as well as multi-
sectoral which includes a wide range of issues ranging from
forecasting, warning, evacuation, search and rescue, relief,
reconstruction and rehabilitation, further involving administrators,
scientists, planners, volunteers and communities.

• Thus, in order to transfer the benefits of scientific research and

development to the communities links must be developed between
scientific communities and field agencies. Coordination between
Government agencies and NGOs needs to be built up so that
overlap of activities may be avoided and linkages between the
Government and communities are established.

• Today we have a range of early warning systems for a range of

natural hazards. Although they are more accurate than before and
can help in prediction it is not enough to ensure communities are
safe from disasters. This is where disaster mitigation can play an
important role.
• Mitigation means lessening the negative impact of the natural
hazards. It is defined as sustained action taken to reduce long term
vulnerability of human life and property to natural hazards. While the
preparatory, response and the recovery phases of emergency
management relate to specific events, mitigation activities have the
potential to produce repetitive benefits over time.

• Certain guidelines if followed can result in an effective mitigation

• Pre-disaster mitigation can help in ensuring faster recovery from the
impacts of disasters.
• Mitigation measures must ensure protection of the natural and
cultural assets of the community.
• Hazard reduction methods must take into account the various
hazards faced by the affected community and their desires and
• Any mitigation program must also ensure effective partnership
between Government, scientific, private sector, NGOs and the
community.The main elements of a mitigation strategy are as follows:
Elements of a mitigation
 Risk assessment and Vulnerability analysis
 Applied research and technology transfer
 Public awareness and training
 Institutional mechanisms
 Incentives and resources for mitigation
 Landuse planning and regulations
 Hazard resistant design and construction
 Structural and Constructional reinforcement of existing
Risk assessment and
Vulnerability analysis
 This involves identification of:
◦ hot spot areas of prime concern,
◦ collection of information on past natural hazards,
◦ information of the natural ecosystems; and
◦ information on the population and infrastructure.
 Once this information is collected a risk assessment should
be done to determine the frequency, intensity, impact and the
time taken to return to normalcy after the disaster.
 The assessment of risk and vulnerabilities will need to be
revised periodically. A regular mechanism will therefore have
to be established for this.
 The use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) a
computer program can be a valuable tool in this process as
the primary data can be easily updated and the
corresponding assessments can be made.
Applied research and
technology transfer
 There is a need to establish or upgrade observation equipment and
networks, monitor the hazards properly, improve the quality of
forecasting and warning, disseminate information quickly through the
warning systems and undertake disaster simulation exercises.

 Thus space technologies such as remote sensing, satellite communications

and Global Positioning Systems have a very important role to play.

 Government organizations like ISRO (Indian Space Research

Organization) can play a vital role. Similarly Government organizations the
National Building Research Organization, the Meteorological Department,
Irrigation Department, etc. can undertake applied research for devising
locale specific mitigation strategies in collaboration with educational
institutions or Universities.

 Such steps could lead to the formulation of locale specific mitigation

measures. A combination of scientific knowledge and expertise with the
community based mitigation measures would not only enhance the
database but would also form the basis of a successful mitigation strategy.
Public awareness and training
 One of the most critical components of a mitigation strategy is the
training to be imparted to the officials and staff of the various
departments involved at the state and the district level. This enables
sharing of information and methodology.

 The success of a mitigation strategy will depend to a large extent

on the inter-sectional, inter-departmental coordination and efficient
teamwork. Thus a training program that is designed after
assessment of gaps in knowledge, skills and attitude with respect to
the various tasks that need to be undertaken is a vital component.
Institutional mechanisms
 The most important need at the National level is to
strengthen or develop the capacity to undertake disaster
mitigation strategies.

 There is a need to emphasize on proactive and pre-disaster

measures rather than post disaster response. It is thus
essential to have a permanent administrative structure which
can monitor the developmental activities across departments
and provides suggestions for necessary mitigation measures.

 The National Disaster Management Center (NDMC) can

perform such a task. Professionals like architects, structural
engineers, doctors, chemical engineers who are involved with
management of hazardous chemicals can be asked to form
groups that can design specific mitigation measures.
Incentives and resources for
 To a very large extent the success of mitigation programs will
depend upon the availability of continued funding.

 There is thus a need to develop mechanisms to provide stable

sources of funding for all mitigation programs.

 This will include incentives for relocation of commercial and

residential activities outside the disaster prone areas.

 Housing finance companies should make it mandatory for

structures in such hazard prone areas to follow special building

 The introduction of disaster linked insurance should be

explored and should cover not only life but also household
goods, cattle, structures and crops.
Landuse planning and
 Long term disaster reduction efforts should aim at promoting
appropriate land-use in the disaster prone areas.

 Separation of industrial areas from residential areas, maintaining

wetlands as buffer zones for floods, creation of public awareness of
proper land practices and formation of land-use policies for long
term sustainable development is imperative.
Hazard resistant design and
 In areas that are prone to disasters protection can be
enhanced by careful selection of sites and the way the
buildings are built.

 Thus it is essential to promote the knowledge of

disaster resistant construction techniques and practices
among engineers, architects and technical personnel.
Structural and Constructional
reinforcement of existing
 It is also possible to reduce the vulnerability of existing
buildings through minor adaptations or alterations
thereby ensuring their safety.

 This can be done by insertion of walls on the outside of

the building, buttresses, walls in the interior of the
building, portico fill-in-walls, specially anchored frames,
covering of columns and beams, construction of new
frame system, placing residential electrical equipment
above flood level, designing water storage tanks to be
able to withstand cyclonic winds, earthquakes and floods,
 Overflow situation
 Unusually high stage in a river
 River overflow its banks and inundates the adjoining area.
 Effects: damage in terms of life, property and economic loss.
 Reasons: Heavy rainfall, Huge snow melting, Failures of dams, barrages
etc.,(koshi), Landslides causing blockage of river

 Ex: A series of floods hit Australia, beginning in December 2010,

primarily in the state of Queensland including its capital city, Brisbane.
The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns
and cities. At least seventy towns and over 200,000 people were
affected. Damage initially was estimated at around A$1 billion. The
estimated reduction inAustralia's GDP is about A$30 billion. Three-
quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster zone. The
2010–2011 floods killed 35 people in Queensland.
Principles types of flood
Riverine floods
• Slow kinds: Runoff from sustained rainfall or rapid snow melt exceeding the capacity
of a river's channel. Causes include heavy rains from monsoons, Unexpected drainage
obstructions such as landslides, ice, or debris can cause slow flooding upstream of the

• Fast kinds: include Flash floods which are much more dangerous and flow much
faster than regular floods. Result from tropical storms, dam failures or excessive rain
and snow.

Estuarine floods
 Commonly caused by a combination of sea tidal surges caused by storm-force winds.

Coastal floods
• Caused by severe sea storms, or as a result of another hazard (e.g. tsunami or

Catastrophic floods
• Caused by a significant and unexpected event e.g. dam breakage, or as a result of
another hazard (e.g. earthquake or volcanic eruption).

Muddy floods
• A muddy flood is generated by run off on crop land.
Effects of Floods
The damage due to flood may vary with respect to the magnitude of the flood. Thus
we can classify the effects as:

Primary effects
• Physical damage - Can range anywhere from bridges, cars, buildings, sewer
systems, roadways, canals and any other type of structure.
• Casualties - People and livestock die due to drowning. It can also lead to
epidemics and diseases.

Secondary effects
• Water supplies - Contamination of water. Clean drinking water becomes scarce.
• Diseases - Unhygienic conditions. Spread of water-borne diseases
 Crops and food supplies - Shortage of food crops can be caused due to loss of
entire harvest.
 Trees - Non-tolerant species can die from suffocation

Tertiary/long-term effects
 Economic -rebuilding costs, food shortage leading to price increase, temporary
decline in tourism etc.
Flood Control

 Greater losses due to flood

 Need for control, Measures to be taken
 No complete control of flood to zero level
 So Flood Management rather than Flood
 Classification of control measures
◦ Structural measures and Non-structural measures
Structural Measures
• Reservoirs for impounding monsoon flows to be
released in a regulated manner after the peak flood flow
• Prevention of over-bank spilling by the construction of
embankments and floodwalls.
• Improvement of flow conditions in the channel and anti-
erosion measures.
• Improved drainage.
Non- Structural Methods
 Flood plain management such as Flood Plain Zoning and
Flood Proofing including Disaster Preparedness
 Maintaining wetlands
 Flood forecasting and warning services
 Disaster relief, flood fighting and public health measures
 Flood insurance
 The shaking or trembling caused by the sudden release of energy.

 Usually associated with faulting or breaking of rocks. Continuing

adjustment of position results in aftershocks

 The point within Earth where faulting begins is the focus, or

hypocenter. The point directly above the focus on the surface is the
Effects/Impacts of Earthquakes
Shaking and ground rupture: Shaking and ground rupture are the main effects
created by earthquakes, principally resulting in more or less severe damage to
buildings and other rigid structures

Landslides and avalanches: Earthquakes, along with severe storms, volcanic activity,
coastal wave attack, and wildfires, can produce slope instability leading to landslides,
a major geological hazard.

Fires: Earthquakes can cause fires by damaging electrical power or gas lines.

Tsunamis : Tsunamis are long-wavelength, long-period sea waves produced by the

sudden or abrupt movement of large volumes of water.

Floods: Earthquakes may cause landslips to dam rivers, which then collapse and cause

Human impacts: Earthquakes may lead to disease, lack of basic necessities, loss of life,
higher insurance premiums, general property damage, road and bridge damage, and
collapse or destabilization (potentially leading to future collapse) of buildings.
Control of Earthquakes
 In order to determine the likelihood of future seismic activity, geologists and
other scientists examine the rock of an area to determine if the rock
appears to be "strained". Studying the faults of an area to study the buildup
time it takes for the fault to build up stress sufficient for an earthquake also
serves as an effective prediction technique

 Seismic retrofitting is the modification of existing structures to make them

more resistant to seismic activity, ground motion, or soil failure due to
earthquakes. Retrofitting and earthquake resistant designs of new buildings and
lifeline structures (e.g. bridges, hospitals, power plants).

 Homeowners, renters, and businessmen in earthquake territory are

encouraged by governments to have an earthquake kit available with enough
supplies for three days. This is considered the amount of time it takes for
emergency services to reach full strength. Such disaster supplies kits are also
useful in other natural hazards.

 State and federal governments publish earthquake preparedness booklets

 An atmospheric system characterized by the rapid inward circulation
of air masses about a low-pressure center usually accompanied by
stormy often destructive weather.
 A cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the
same direction as the Earth. This is usually characterized by
inward spiraling winds that rotate counter clockwise in the Northern
Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth.
 Cyclones consequences includes injury ,disease, homelessness, and
loss of jobs.
Control Of Cyclones
Although one cannot control cyclones, the effects of cyclones can be
mitigated through effective and efficient mitigation policies and
strategies.A brief description of the same is given below.

 Installation of early warning systems: Such systems fitted along

the coastlines can greatly assist forecasting techniques thus helping in
early evacuation of people in the storm surge areas.

 Developing communication infrastructure: Communication plays

a vital role in cyclone disaster mitigation and yet this is one of the first
services that gets disrupted during cyclones. Amateur Radio has today
emerged as a second line unconventional communications systems and
is an important tool for disaster mitigation.

 Developing shelter belts: Shelter belts with plantations of trees can

act as effective wind and tide breakers. Apart from acting as effective
windbreakers and protecting soil crops from being damaged they
prevent soil erosion.
 Developing community cyclone shelters: Cyclone shelters at
strategic locations can help minimizing the loss of human life. In the
normal course these shelters can be used as public utility buildings.
 Construction of permanent houses: There is a need to build
appropriately designed concrete houses that can withstand high winds
and tidal waves.

 Training and education: Public awareness programs that inform

the population about their response to cyclone warnings and
preparedness can go a long way in reducing causalities.

 Landuse control and settlement planning: No residential and

industrial units should be ideally permitted in the coastal belt of 5 km
from the sea as it is the most vulnerable belt. No further growth of
settlements in this region should allowed. Major settlements and
other important establishments should be located beyond 10 km from
the sea.
 A landslide or landslip is a geological
phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground
movement, such as rock falls, deep failure of slopes and
shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal
and onshore environments.

 Although the action of gravity is the primary driving force

for a landslide to occur, there are other contributing
factors affecting the original slope stability.

 Typically, pre-conditional factors build up specific sub-

surface conditions that make the area/slope prone to
failure, whereas the actual landslide often requires a
trigger before being released.
 If a mass of earth moves along a
definite plane or surface the
failure is termed as Landslide
 Large block known as a slump
block moves during the
 The scar above a landslide is
easily visible.
 They can occur along a slope
where the internal resistance of
the rocks are reduced or they
loose their holding capacity.
 Common after earthquakes or
after removal of part of the slope
due to construction, particularly
for construction of roads.
Classification of Earth Movements
 All movement of land masses are referred as landslides, but differ
in many respects, therefore all types of landslides are categorized
as Earth Movements.
These are classified as

Earth Flow Landslides Subsidence

Debris slide or Plastic flow:

Solifluction: Solifuction is Slump: failure of occur when a
a downward movement of unconsolidated plastic layer like
wet soil along the slopes material on a surface clay bed is
under the influence of squeezed
gravity. Rock slides/falls: outward due to
Creep: Creep is movement of large overlying heavy
extremely slow rock block rolls load
downward movement of Collapse: occur
dry surfacial matter. due to extensive
pull out of large
Rapid flows: Rapid flow is
volume of
similar to the creep, but
underground water
differ in terms of speed
or due to
and depth. It is faster.
solution activity in
limestone terrain.
Causes of landslides
Landslides occur when the stability of a slope changes from a stable to an
unstable condition. A change in the stability of a slope can be caused by
a number of factors, acting together or alone.

Natural causes of landslides include:

 groundwater (porewater) pressure acting to destabilize the slope
 Loss or absence of vertical vegetative structure, soil nutrients, and soil
structure (e.g. after a wildfire)
 erosion of the toe of a slope by rivers or ocean waves
 weakening of a slope through saturation by snowmelt, glaciers melting,
or heavy rains
 earthquakes adding loads to barely-stable slope
 earthquake-caused liquefaction destabilizing slopes
 volcanic eruptions
landslides are aggravated by human activities, Human causes
include: deforestation, cultivation and construction, which
destabilize the already fragile slopes
 vibrations from machinery or traffic
 blasting
 earthwork which alters the shape of a slope, or which imposes
new loads on an existing slope
 in shallow soils, the removal of deep-rooted vegetation that
binds colluvium to bedrock
 Construction, agricultural or forestry activities (logging) which
change the amount of water which infiltrates the soil.
Control of Landslides
 A significant reduction in the hazards caused by landslides can be achieved by
preventing the exposure of population and facilities to landslides and by
physically controlling the landslides.

 Developmental programs that involve modification of the topography,

exploitation of natural resources and change in the balance load on the ground
should not be permitted.

 Some critical measures that could be undertaken to prevent further landslides

are drainage measures, erosion control measures such a bamboo check dams,
terracing, jute and coir netting and rockfall control measures such as grass
plantation, vegetated dry masonry wall, retaining wall and most importantly
preventing deforestation and improving afforestation.

 Disasters cannot be totally prevented. However early warning systems, careful

planning and preparedness on part of the vulnerable community would help in
minimizing the loss of life and property due to these disasters.