CASE STUDY SUMMARY, CONRAD’aquila+map&imgrc=9BV3Z1KBqWN5kM:&spf=436

The natural disaster that I chose to cover was the L’Aquila earthquake which struck Italy on April 6, 2009. L’Aquila is the capital of Abruzzo, Italy, which is how the earthquake got its name. I chose to do this case study, because one of my old friends lived in not far from Rome, Italy, and she had explained to me that her town still experiences the aftershocks that resulted from the earthquake. The actual earthquake itself has nothing that seriously stood out. The earthquake hit the city around 3:30 AM with a recorded magnitude of 6.3. The death rate was recorded to be around 290-309 individuals. L’Aquila is set on what is a normal fault that has caused numerous earthquakes in the same region from 1530-1958. The earthquake which struck Italy in February of 1703, caused damage to much of L’Aquila and had a death toll of around 5,000 people. The response to the disaster is very much linked to the past rather than the present recorded prior to the earthquake of 2009 Sometimes, before an earthquake strikes, individuals will see what is referred to as “luminary phenomena.” While it has been the topic of much debate in the past, in the case of the L’Aquila earthquake, these lights are said to have given the people a warning before the earthquake struck the city. Along with this warning sign, it was the research of inventor Another indication of the earthquake that would hit L’Aquila was the predictions that were issued by Giampaolo Giuliani.

Giuliani as a respected member of the L’Aquila community and conducted research in the predictive quality of radon gas levels and earthquakes. Giuliani had first been introduced to the topic of radon gas by the Russians in 1999. According to past research by measuring the amount of radon gas, the Russians had been able to better forecast the earthquake that would hit Tukey later that year. In 2003, Giuliani submitted a proposal to the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology for project funding to study radon gas emissions as a possible predictor for earthquakes, using one or more radometers that he himself had designed. Although Giuliani could meet with both Bosci and Guido Bertolaso, the head of the government’s interior ministry, both men rejected Giuliani’s request for funding because neither of them believed that Giuliani’s idea had enough scientific evidence to be utilized as a predictor for future earthquakes. The rejections of his request for funding was based on previous faulty data that had not been updated. Many other countries besides Russia had attempted to build their own radometers, none of which were truly successful. Nonetheless, Giuliani persisted and built two of his own radometers in 2006, and as it so happened, his invention would help to predict the earthquake that would hit L’Aquila in December of 2008.

Giuliani noticed a series of small tremors in early December, but they were not strong enough for people to become alarmed. Following the tremors, on March 27, 2009, Giuliani was worried that another quake would strike. Giuliani set up a radometer in the basement of an old school, and warned that a quake would come within the next day. The following morning, a quake was recorded with a magnitude of 2.3. Panic started to vibrate throughout Italy when Giuliani predicted a quake of a higher magnitude headed toward the city of Sulmona, which was only 50km from L’Aquila. Finally, Giuliani’s warning was taken seriously and the minister was warned which caused panic throughout the city, and officials placed a gag injunction on Giuliani on March 30, which prevented Giuliani from trying to warn the public of upcoming disasters until the injunction was lifted. The next day, following Giuliani’s predictions, an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.2 hit L’Aquila. If that’s not the biggest, “I told you so,” I don’t know what is. Although Giuliani had given evidence that would prove L’Aquila was set up for disaster, the panic of the public caused Giuliani to be dismissed by the Italian government. This gave people a false sense of security. Because the Italian government did not seriously take Giuliani’s warnings- even banned, the people did not have the right information to prepare for the earthquake. After the struggles that Giuliani faced, there was also some ethical issues that came into light. Following the recovery from earthquake, six scientists who were involved in warning the public, were sentenced to jail on counts of manslaughter. Stefano Gresta, president of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome, stated that the verdicts were so harsh because the men tried to downplay the severity of the impending earthquake. Furthermore, it was stated that two of the men involved, only tried to calm the public, not present the facts on the prediction of the event.

The mortality in the L’Aquila earthquake is slightly complicated. The time has a lot to do with this, as I have mentioned, the earthquake hit L’Aquila around 3:30 AM, this meant that most people were still sleeping. There is a good and bad side to this. On the one hand, because people were sleeping, it meant that falling objects could not hit them, nor would masses of people be injured at the same time. However, because the earthquake did happen at such an early hour, this meant that individuals had a much slower reaction time which did result in more harm. twice as many women died than men in the L’Aquila earthquake. Another contributing factor to mortality in the L’Aquila earthquake was the location of those who lived in the city of L’Aquila. Many of those who died or were injured in earthqake got hurt because debris from falling buildings fell on them. L’Aquila is only about an hour away from Rome and this allowed for response to be carried out quickly. Response from Italian officials was also issued quickly because the main hospital in L’Aquila had been gravely damaged during the earthquake. Coppito, located just outside of the city was the country’s training place for the police in the city. This meant that aid could be given to the city right away because of the ready police force. Furthermore, the police compound provided some resident units which meant that those who had lost their homes in the earthquake had a place to stay. Volunteer organizations, such as the Italian Red Cross, and the armed forces also set up base there, which took over as the main care facility in which emergencies were handled in the following months. Evacuation quickly followed the disaster, including the entire historic center of L’Aquila. Over 171 tent camps were created and overseen by the Italian military.

According to an article that was published by the BBC, the EU gave L’Aquila sixty-six million dollars in aid, however, recent findings have discovered that this money was misused.  Soren Bo Sondergaad, a reporter for the European Parliament, found evidence which suggested that the money that was given by the EU, was handed to various individuals who had been proven to have taken part in organized crime. Sondergaad also suggested that what reconstruction had been done to the city was unsafe. Along with working to help those who lost their homes because of the earthquake, it is also important to discuss the recovery of the city. It was found that much of the repairs that were done throughout L’Aquila were solely funded through the Italian government Much of the money put into fixing the structures went towards bricks because most of the buildings in L’Aquila are old. Although much of the city was asked to evacuate as a part of earthquake management, the people of L’Aquila state that much of their city remains in ruins more than five years after the earthquake. Today, there are still 632 buildings that are reported to have been destroyed because of the earthquake. The President has stated that his mind is set on fully repairing the town; however, money is a large obstacle. Since March, it has been reported that the government has spent an estimated 4.4 billion on repairs.

How can Peru prepare to withstand more devastating floods and landslides?

The flood that hit Peru is one of the most damaging that has ever occurred. Ten times the normal amount of rainfall has hit the coast and has caused many landslides that have ruined numerous homes. More than 100 people have died, nearly 158,000 are homeless and 210,000 homes are damaged, according to the nation’s emergency center. The country’s infrastructure also suffered great losses as a result. 260 bridges collapsed and nearly 3,000km of roads are unusable, cutting off hundreds of villages and towns. Peru’s rainy season falls broadly in the first few months of every year. As Peru’s weather service , rain occurs in March and dry rivers often flood as a result. Peru is not well prepared for floods, and its weak building construction does not help matters.

Nieto who is the defense minister of the country has been leading recovery efforts and deploying armed forces across the country, says that cities and towns lacked basic flood defenses, and that the 30-odd rivers which flow from the Andes to the Pacific would need to channeled, especially in urban areas. Nieto also states that,rainwater can be stored in the water-stressed country. “That way we would guarantee our water supply so that the rains become a blessing, rather than a problem.” “Coastal El Niño,” as Peru has named the disaster has caused millions of dollars in damage. The first stage would pay for the “immediate reconstruction” of cities and towns. Infrastructure reconstruction will also be worked with to make Peru a more “modern and organized” country. It is important to note that Peru is a country that will be prone to more disasters in the future. The floods also temporarily threatened the water supply in Peru’s capital. More than 25 landslides, carrying tree trunks, dead livestock and rubble from destroyed homes clogged water treatment plants on the Rimac river, which effected the countries water supply for about five days.

The United Nations has also warned that Peru must invest in multi-hazard warning systems and ensure its citizens better understand the risks of such disasters. “This is a large-scale singular event which needs to be viewed in the context of a warming planet, where episodes of extreme weather variability are becoming more evident,” says Robert Glasser, the UN special representative of the secretary-general for disaster risk reduction.“If we are to succeed in preventing disasters like this, and to reduce disaster losses, then we need to ensure there is a much broader understanding of the nature of disaster risk in society. This includes better understanding of the impacts of climate change and how it alters local weather patterns.”

A local wades through muddy waters that have flooded the streets in La Union, northern Peru. Photograph: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Run-off pollution from Cyclone Debbie flooding sweeps into Great Barrier Reef

Satellite images of the Burdekin river mouth on 12 March before Cyclone Debbie (left) and on 1 April (right) in the cyclone’s wake as the plume of flood waters makes its way to the sea. Photograph: WWF-Australia

Recently, the scientific community has expressed some concerns about the pollution that has been running off into the Great Barrier Reef that is the result of Cyclone Debbie. Last month, much of the runoff ended up collecting into the Queensland Coast. Andrew Brooks, associate professor at Griffith University, released photographs that depicted the  scale of damage in the erosion-prone Burdekin catchment, as well as flood plumes from the Burdekin. Brooks findings suggest the cyclone Debbie  impact on a 11,000 sq km stretch of the Burdekin, which is suggested to produce thirty percent of run-off to the reef. This is also an additional issue for the government. In the Burdekin, the collapse of a 20-metre high bank was one of the signs of Debbie was causing issues when blocks that were built to block the runoff had no impact.

According to Brooks, these gully systems produced an estimated 36,000 of sediment a year for 60 years after being opened up amid cattle grazing and road-building. “We know sediment can harm coral and sea grass by restricting light. Now we’re learning that sediment from this area also carries large loads of harmful nitrogen because it sticks to the sediment sourced from these same soils.” Brooks said he hoped state and federal governments continued to take erosion in the area seriously as it is a health issue for the community, and it can cause serious damage to the environment.



Cyclone Debbie: Queensland premier says repair bill could run into billions

In the process of starting to repair Australia from the cyclone Debbie, it has been estimated that damage costs could run into the billions. Including the many homes that were destroyed, over 300 schools also need to be repaired. However, although things are being managed well with Cyclone Debbie, reports are also optimistic that the Fitzroy river would not surge to the  peak of 9.4 meters later this week, which would have  promised the worst floods in Rockhampton for decades. Although the possible flood for Fitzroy river has been decreased, the warning for the area is still being issued. Around 5,400 homes and businesses in the area, as well as railroads are under this area of warning. On Monday, crews will continue to go from home to home to inform people to evacuate.

Because of all of the damage that was caused from Cyclone Debbie, all of the 80,00 residents in the area will be urged to leave by Wednesday. The death toll has been surprisingly low in the wake of the disaster, only five deaths have been reported. Three men and two women were killed in separate incidents on Friday and Saturday. Three men and two women were killed in separate incidents on Friday and Saturday.Four of the deaths occurred in northern area. Lismore mayor Isaac Smith stated that the area looked like a, “war zone.” Lismore residents have been given the all-clear to return home but there were nine evacuation orders in place. Also, people have been warned to be wary of the water, as it may not be safe to drink. Authorities have stated that they understand people are irritated they aren’t allowed to return to their homes yet. It was interesting to me that so many people were willing to leave their homes because of the flooding. In some cases of natural disasters, one of the things that contribute to the deaths was people being unwilling to leave their homes despite warnings.



Low lying properties next to the swollen Fitzroy river in Rockhampton on Monday. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

Cyclone Debbie: police fear fatalities with extent of damage unclear

Australia’s recent weeks of natural disasters have created Cyclone Debbie. Because the damage has been so extensive, officials are unclear of magnitude will be, also people have been warned that deaths may result. Despite these grim reports, the Queensland government has evacuated many individuals from dangerous areas. Weather  experts are warning that things will not start to normalize until Wednesday evening.  Although many of the homes that were built in Bowen had been built to withstand cyclones, it was reported that a majority of these houses were torn apart. This has caused a great deal of environmental damage. There continues to be ongoing rain in Bowen and surrounding areas which  further contributes to making damage assessment difficult for experts to gage.

Although it has been difficult to determine the damage that Cyclone Debbie caused on a general scale, people who witnessed and felt the storm had a lot to report. Rosalind Willcocks, a local resident of Hideaway Bay described  how destructive Debbie was. “It’s just destroyed our trees and our garden. The buildings are brick but we did lose a barbecue, fridge, things like that went flying off.” Tony Fontes, who is a tourist driver described a similar situation. He states that based on the wind, and the trees that he saw falling inti the water because of the storm, would cause damage to the coal reefs. Although he says that this has happened before, Fontes still sees this as an awful result that continues to mess with the environment. In a statement that was released by the Bureau of Meteorology, the most populated area at the southern edge of the cyclone watch zone, had missed out on a disastrous storm surge by only a small amount. Because the storm happened later than expected, rain did not cause as serious damage as was anticipated, but is estimated to continue until tomorrow.


Queensland’s premier described Cyclone Debbie as ‘incredibly scary’ and said the state would be feeling its impact for up to five days. Photograph: Bureau of Meteorology/EPA

Storms lash America and Australia, and chill returns to Spain.

In an article that was published by The Guardian, author Tom Tobler discussed how multiple countries are under a serious watch. According to Tobler’s findings, the United States, Australia, and Spain are all dealing with various natural disasters. In the United States, Georgia had sever thunderstorms and severe winds all of last week. These winds were reported to reach 60 MPH which brought down a lot of trees, killing one individual. Furthermore, this severe storm left 170,000 people without power. In addition to the strong winds, rain and hail also fell down on Tuesday. Spain also dealt with its problems because of natural disasters. Average temperatures in the country have been reported falling much lower than the expected norm. The previous week, Spain, as well as other areas had to deal with a mixture of snow, rain, and hail because of the dropping temperatures. This has caused damage to the farming industry in Spain. This means production numbers are now dropping as a result.

In Australia, because of massive rain, flooding occurred. This left many without power and bad damage to Sydney. Flooding caused many trees to fall over, and bringing down power lines with it. Spain ran into more issues than Australia. Although they also some rain, the causation was different. According to recent reports, the temperature in Spain on average has been much lower than what is considered normal for the country. These low temperatures caused rain, hail, and frost. This coldness has caused issues for the farming industry in Spain, numbers in production have started to decrease. However, it has been reported that these cold temperatures have not been drawn out to a dangerous extent. I find it interesting that all three of these countries are experiencing drastic weather changes. I think that a part of this is the result of global warming. In the beginning of August, parts of Virginia exceeded the hottest days on recorded, and temperatures still continue to vary. I think that this should be a warning sign to us. We must seriously start to develop a plan that will help us to bring things back down to an equilibrium.

A storm cell which battered North-Western Sydney, on Wednesday, March 22.



NSW floods: SES responds to hundreds of calls for help after deluge

A low pressure system just off the northern NSW coast has generated an extensive area of middle and upper level cloud Photograph: BOM

The SES got over 500 calls for help from the people of Whales has a massive rain poured in the South of Whales. According to spokesmen Brent Hunter, there was over 7- flood rescues. Hunter also mentioned that many tried to escape the flood by driving in unsafe conditions. The police had to be called in order to stop people from entering Audley Weir in the Royal National Park south of Sydney. People chose to disregard the flooding signs and tried to cross the rovers themselves. undoubtable, this put people in even more danger. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, low pressure throughout the entire region left the area more prone to the serious flooding that happened. 77mm of rain fell in only one hour. There are many bridges and causeways that will be closed due to the excessive flooding, reported the SES. I think that this article is important to post because it exemplifies how human beings make natural disasters worse. As stated in the article, people openly ignored warnings, they considered themselves to be smarter than the environment around them, which then puts them in an even more dangerous position.