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Multiple Disasters....What then?

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posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 01:22 PM
As the USS Carl Vinson anchors offshore at Port-au-Prince, there have been several significant global events the past couple weeks. Starting with the Soloman Islands Tsunami (Tsunami 2009). Then the 6.0 earthquake off the coast of northern California, the 7.0 Haiti earthquake, and the 7.0 earthquake off Venezuela.
Rear Admiral Branch, commander of the USS Carl Vinson, stated yesterday that there was a lack of effective coordination between humanitarian groups and military operations. This coupled with the lack of infrastructure on the ground in Haiti.
What would we do if there were multiple disasters ??
Let's say, a tsunami on one side of the world and a major earthquake on the other. Humanitarian efforts would be stretched pretty thin.

Any thoughts ??

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 01:45 PM
We would do our best but disasters are often disastrous, and bad things happen. We cannot save the world.

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 02:11 PM
reply to post by Lacenaire

Interesting post. I've wondered about the same thing for years. So okay, I'll offer my humble opinion.

Seeing as how it has taken some days to get relief efforts up and running in the Haiti disaster I feel that in a double or triple disaster scenario, it would mean serious trouble. But of course, it would depend on exactly where the events occurred, how far-reaching they were in their effects and (to some extent) the political or $$$ importance of the affected region/s.

For example, eventually there will likely be a major quake on the western coast of the US. I'm not referring to the San Andreas "big one" that many expect to happen sooner or later, but an even bigger one that would result from a jolt along the Juan de Fuca subduction fault zone that runs up past Oregon and Washington. Scientists know that part of this fault is "stuck" and that eventually it'll let go again. When this last let go big-time on Jan 26, 1700 it caused a magnitude 9 quake and sent a tsunami 30 metres high (nearly 100 ft) along the coast there. (We know the date because the Japanese recorded the tsunami when it came ashore in their lands after crossing the Pacific Ocean...)

That's the real "big one". Suffice to say that as the time between the quake's occurrence and the arrival of the tsunami on US and Canadian West coast in places like the Seattle region and on up into Victoria would be minimal (minutes, not hours), it could be catastrophic.

It could also trigger seismic events in the San Andreas fault system, but that's pure speculation. But even without any serious effects in most of California, this event would require massive resources to effect search, rescue and also recovery of the victims, let alone restoring the infrastucture and the later rebuilding.

If, then, at around the same time, there was a similar event in another part of the world, would the USA be in a position to offer the sort of help that most nations have come to expect? Probably not. Granted, the US has enormous resources but they are not unlimited, and when hundreds of thousands of its own citizens have been directly impacted it would need those at home.

As I don't want to unduly alarm anyone I should point out that the Juan de Fuca subduction zone quake might not occur for many years. But it is a threat and one that has been taken into account for major disaster scenarios in those regions that would be worst affected.

And yes, as you pointed out, organization and coordination are clearly key factors in getting aid to affected people. It's no good having the assets and resources if they can't be delivered and distributed where they are most needed. Then there is the question of trying to maintain some semblance of law and order.

Even though some lessons have been learned from previous tragic events (like the 2004 Asian Tsunami), the current situation in Haiti demonstrates that both the governmental and NGO authorities have still a lot more to learn.

Just a couple of minor corrections if I may... The quake off northern California on Jan 10 was a 6.5 -- still quite a big one for that region -- and the one near coastal Venezuela on Jan 15 was a mag 5.6, not a mag 7.0. I believe some early news reports went out a bit hastily and got the magnitude completely wrong. It often happens with such things.

Best regards,


[edit on 16/1/10 by JustMike]

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 02:47 PM
reply to post by Lacenaire

I think that, unfortunately, whatever it is possible to learn from past events, it is often the unpredictable individual cocktail of various factors that eventually make many of these most devastating events and human disasters so tragic and so difficult to deal with.

Haiti has a number of unhelpful factors that are already emerging as distinctive. It's small island infrastructure seems to have created totally different access and logistical problems to many large quakes that have been on larger land masses; the proximity in time to the unresolved legacy of the previous hurricane disaster/devastation a year or so ago; it's extreme poverty, tied with a history of violence and political conflict; an apparently virtually total loss of any sites (with a proportionate capacity) to take the wounded and injured for medical or surgical aid within the first 4 days...

The Tsunami also had a very unique set of issues, as did Katrina, or other large destructive quakes like those of Iran, China, or Italy.

One more point, as an ATSer, I would always remember that there are plenty of other disasters playing out all over the globe at this very minute, some natural, many man-made, but not always so visible, or publicised, or well remembered, for whatever reason (usually political), and I would suggest, sadly, that we were already proven to be lacking in an ability to balance or sustain our response to multiple simultaneous humanitarian emergencies adequately anyway.

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