My case study is on the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. I decided to choose this event to focus on because it was the second largest eruption of the 20th century and having studied hazards for the past couple of years – I had never looked into this one and I was interested to do so.

Figure 1: Pyroclastic flows from Mount Pinatubo June 15 1991

In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo, a once dormant stratovolcano for over 5 centuries became active once again following the Luzon 7.7 magnitude earthquake a year prior. Over the course of a few days before the eruption, magma reached the surface of Mount Pinatubo by which sulphur dioxide clouds had begun to erupt and a lava dome had formed due to a loss of the once contained gas. This activity of gas-charged magma indicated a cataclysmic eruption was imminent and by June 15th this is what occurred. More than a cubic mile of material and an ash cloud of 22 miles rose into the air and continued to do so until the following morning. As a result of the eruption, a typhoon (which blew the ash in all directions – in seven days it reached the Galapagos Islands), high speed pyroclastic flows (figure 1), lahars and ash flows were created and remained a hazardous threat to the people in the region for several years. For example, a sulphuric aerosol cloud remained in the atmosphere and circled the earth for several years – up to one year after the eruption the earth was in a period of climatic cooling by 2.3°C and resulted in a counterbalance of global warming (by 1994 most aerosols had gone). Moreover, lahars remained a great threat to the areas surrounding Mount Pinatubo for decades after because the ash deposits would remobilise during monsoon and typhoon weather and result in vast downwards debris flow.

Furthermore, in terms of preparation and mitigation strategies, given that the last time Mount Pinatubo erupted was around 600 years prior – the Philippine government reacted reasonably quickly and efficiently in terms of evacuation. Figure 2 shows the mapped-out danger zones where people are the most vulnerable which was around 40km away from Mount Pinatubo and everyone in these zones (~331,000 people) was transported to evacuation camps. 657 people died in 1991 and 184 were injured – the numbers increased with the years due to remobilisation of lahars – however half of these deaths were due to collapsing roof tops from wet tephra containing many people who refused to evacuate.

Figure 2: Map of the danger zones surrounding Mount Pinatubo:

In terms of recovery, the Government responded quickly with rehabilitation and reconstruction plans which included foreign aid from countries such as the UK and USA alongside support from private sectors including NGOs such as the WHO and UNICEF. This included construction of a “megadike” to control and protect remobilising lahars in future monsoon seasons. 25 years on in 2016, there was a review on the area, and it proved that the mitigation post eruption has been successful and it is evident that the preparation in terms of evacuation before the eruption was effective and helped save hundreds of thousands of lives.



The 1900 Storm: Galveston, Texas

1900 Galveston hurricane - Wikipedia


I chose the Galveston hurricane of the 1900 because it is the deadliest natural disaster to hit in America.  I did not know a whole lot about it and I have enjoyed digging deeper into the events that took place in Galveston.

The Galveston hurricane of the 1900 is to this day the deadliest natural disaster to happen in the Untied States.   The town of Galveston, Texas is a barrier island off the Texas coast established in 1838.  This town became more and more popular resulting in around 37,784 moving into the area.  Unfortunately this are did have a record of tropical storms and hurricanes which was hard on the town because it was a little less then 9 feet above sea level.  This resulted in the town asking for the state for money to put in breakwaters, a barrier built out in a body of water to protect a coast.  The state refused so in 1878 Galveston planted cedar trees on the coastline, and filled in areas with up to 9 feet of sand to better protect them from these massive storms.  By September 4th, 1900, the weather station in Galveston received it’s first notice of a hurricane coming northward from Cuba.  It was classified as a tropical storm at this point.  By September 8th, this tropical storm turned quickly into a category 4 hurricane.  The wind speeds recorded reached up to 80mph winds with gusts of 100mph.  It is still debated how fast the wind was blowing as most of the gauges flew from weather building.  Many scientist believe the wind speed reached up to 120mps as there was many heavy debris such as bricks flying at a horizontal angle through the air. To make thing worse, there was a 15.7 foot storm surge that flooded the town.  Due to the combination of buildings collapsing and the land flooding, around 6,000 citizens were pronounced dead mainly from drowning after being pinned under the debris.

This population was aware of flooding  which they did their best to prevent.  However, hurricanes were all too common for this population.  Advisory’s were announced on radio for citizens to move to higher grounds but many ignored this.  There was over 20 million dollars in damage, if you compare that to the value in 2009, that was around 516 million dollars.  Many states did events to help raise money for the island and donated around 1.25 million dollars.  It took the town of Galveston around 6 months before the last body they found.

After this tragic disaster, the community first developed a new form of municipal government.  Then they set forth in putting in a sea wall along the coast line in 1904.  This wall started off as 3 miles long, 17 feet above sea level, with the base as 16ft wide and 5 ft wide at the top. This sea is now currently 10 miles long but has the original width and height.  Before the rebuilding process, the city decided to raise the cities level to more than 16 feet in some areas.  Due to 2/3s of the houses and businesses being destroyed this effort was not as difficult as it seemed was finished in 1912.  Eventually the first building codes and regulations where put into place in 1914.  The wind load section made building required to resist a horizontal wind speed of 30 pounds per square foot.  The roofing however has no restrictions unless there was a building that had a height of 100 feet and a width four times the height.

August 16, 1915 another hurricane follows in the previous 1900 hurricane.  This one was similar as it too was a category 4 hurricane with over 100mps winds. The water from this was 3 inches higher than the 1900 hurricane.  All the new efforts in preventing a horrible disaster paid off. Only 11 people died from this Hurricane.  While people were safe inside the sea wall, 90 percent buildings outside the wall were demolished.


I chose to do a case study on the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi, Indonesia. Before I chose this topic, I knew that I wanted my case study to be about a volcano eruption, because I have always thought they were super cool. After doing some research on volcano eruptions from the past, I came across Mount Merapi, which fascinated me with its stratovolcano shape and the fact is the most active volcano in Indonesia. After doing some more research I learned a lot more about it and it got more and more intriguing.

The eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010 was a level 4. It was caused by the subduction of the Indo-Australian plate underneath the Eurasian plate. The volcano stands on a destructive plate margin at a subduction zone, the Indo-Australian plate is dense, so it sank under the Eurasian plate edge which has a lower density. In turn, the temperature-pressure rises, rocks begin to release water, magma rises then, boom an eruption occurs.

The eruption left an aggrieved memory for the history of volcano eruptions in Indonesia. As a result of this event, a total of 353 people were killed and 577 people were injured. Residents were not very aware of this type of hazard or the risk they faced. Many Similar events had occurred before in this same location, yet that did not prepare the residents at all. A man whose family was a victim of the disaster states “After the 2010 tragedy, Merapi residents came to acknowledge they had lived alongside the 2,914m volcano for so long that they had become dangerously inured to its threat.” Also, many did not have the proper means to aid them in escaping this event. An example of this is of a family who during this eruption gave up on trying to escape and decided to remain at home and die together because they only had one motorbike that could not transport their family of six in a single trip.

Mount Merapi's eruptions - Photos - The Big Picture -

The whole event lasted for about one month and caused Volcanic bombs and heat clouds, spread over ten kilometers from Mount Merapi, Pyroclastic flows advanced three kilometers down the mountainsides which were greatly populated, ash traveled 30 km away and covered almost everything in its path like the village of Bronggang, all roads were completely jammed with people in their vehicles trying to escape the disaster, later heavy rain brought about lahars that traveled into towns and destroyed bridges.

Eventually, everything was restored and back to normal, and this time even better because this time they had better Roads and bridges for evacuation, dams built in valleys to block lahars, and A newly enhanced warning system. Also, the government and non-government groups in Indonesia started a variety of training sessions in communities to help people be more prepared and better at evacuating. After this recovery phase, the residents claimed that they became much more aware of the possible disasters around them and their risks. Suwarni, a woman who manages a gift shop on Mount Merapi said, “Now, even if there is a small sign of some activity from the volcano, people react quickly.”


I chose to do my case study on the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. I remembered hearing news stories about the fire, so I decided to look into it when it came up in a list of the most devastating wildfires in US history.

The wildfire was started on June 28th of 2013, with the official cause being lightning. The initial reports did not view the fire as an immediate threat, so suppression efforts were put off until the next day. Unfortunately, the circumstances were prime for massive wildfires. The area was (and had been) in extreme drought for a significant period of time (figure 1 shows the drought conditions days before the blaze), the weather was hot, and the relative humidity was low. The terrain was made up of grasses, and low shrubbery, also known for strong fires.  Sometime during the blaze, a thunderstorm system with microburst ended up drastically changing wind speed and direction. This is when major tragedy struck. On June 30th, 19 firefighters from the granite mountain hotshots were killed after a sequence of miscommunication and poor planning. Their deaths made the wildfire one of the deadliest wildfires, with the most firefighter deaths in one event since 9/11.

The town was relatively unprepared, with many houses up against brush or other fuel materials. Additionally, the population was primarily elderly and low income, which could have impacted their abilities to retrofit their homes. By the time the fire was contained, over 8,000 acres had burned, and over 100 residences were damaged or destroyed. Arizona did have a disaster relief plan, which was credited with the organization of aid to the community. However, the fire was not deemed a disaster by FEMA, limiting federal funding. Media coverage surrounding the firefighters’ deaths played a large role in the recovery of the community, as public donations and help came pouring in.


Overall, a rapid change in weather conditions, drought,  and bad communication turned a wildfire into a tragedy that reached national levels.


Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial Video

On This Day: Remembering the Yarnell Hill Wildfire | News | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

Figure 1: Drought map days before the fire



I decided to choose the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami, which devastated the northeastern coast of Japan.  A prime reason for choosing this particular event was that I had heard about this event prior to this class, albeit I had never done any real research on the topic.  Additionally, I was interested in learning what types of mitigations are used in a country that experiences earthquakes at a high frequency.  I also have an interest in visiting Japan for travel and potentially for my career.  Lastly, I chose this event because it was a domino effect in which it was the perfect example of anything that could happen, did happen.  This does not mean that Japan’s mitigations we bad; it just means that they were not prepared for a disaster that would go down in history.


On March 11th, 2011, a 9.1 magnitude (Mw) earthquake occurred with its epicenter located 80 miles east of the city of Sendai and its hypocenter located 18.6 miles below the seafloor.  The years of stress that were built up in this subduction zone also factored into the magnitude of the earthquake.  Prior to the earthquake, there were multiple foreshocks, and following the earthquake, there were many aftershocks, several of which were above a 6.0 magnitude.  This earth was one of the strongest earthquakes in history, yet it was not the primary cause of the damage that the northeastern coast of Japan would experience.  It was mainly the tsunami that was generated from vertical movements from the Pacific plate subducting under the Okhotsk plate.  The tsunami’s maximum runup height was close to 130 feet and inundated as far as 6 miles inland.  The tsunami was quick, given it was local, and it arrived at the coast of Japan within 30 minutes.  Again, the tsunami caused extensive damage as it swept away houses, cars, vegetation, and other debris.  The earthquake and tsunami also caused many other hazards, such as landslides, liquefaction, wildfire, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was on the same level as Chernobyl. 


The death toll of this disaster was reported to be around 18,000 to 20,000 people but is not concrete due to missing persons.  The elderly were the main demographic that was affected as more than half of the deaths were people aged 60 or older.  It showed that beyond sea walls, there were not many other mitigations.  Additionally, there was a heavy reliance on sea walls not failing, so when they did, that’s what made the event more disastrous.  Some of the sea walls that had failed were as tall as 18 feet.  The humanitarian response was immense as several countries, including, but not limited to, Canada, China, Australia, and the United States.  Most countries sent resources to help with search & rescue, clearing debris, and reconstruction. This matter was resolved in months to a couple of years except for the area of Fukushima. The nuclear disaster that ensued at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was caused by the tsunami damaging the backup power supply, which caused the reactors to meltdown.  Mass evacuation of the area occurred due to the radiation, and it took years for residents to be able to return; there are still dangerous areas to this day. 

My conclusions revolved around how Japan did the best they did in light of how the severity of the event was on a historical level and could have been worse if they lacked the mitigations they had prior.  The problem was the mitigations usually stopped at the sea walls, so after this incident, new building regulations were imposed and began reconstructing areas and adding other mitigations with the assumption that the sea wall would fail.  Additionally, the sea walls were raised.  Japan also needs to educate its population on tsunamis in the sense of comparing a given wave height to a common object like a house.  This means their population needs to evacuate in the event of a tsunami as mitigations are more so geared at defending property, granted they do protect people.  Lastly, an event comparable to this one was the Indian Ocean tsunami, which led to over 200,000 deaths due to the lack of mitigations, so it shows how much worse this could have been for Japan had they not had the mitigations they did.

Case Study Summary— Ortez

I decided to work on Hurricane Mitch as my family members in Honduras were able to experience it personally. One of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on file, Hurricane Mitch occured on October 22, 1998 causing at least 11,000 deceased in Central America. Documented as one of the most distressing hurricanes of the 20th century in the Atlantic Ocean, Mitch caused destructive disasters throughout Central America. In October 1998, a tropical easterly wave moved through West Africa and off the coast through the Atlantic Ocean. Summers that year had become extremely hot allowing sea temperatures in the Caribbean to reach up to 80°F. The rising air was replaced and a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained surface winds known as a tropical depression, was developed. Winds of 290 km per hour became stronger and stronger as the air kept rising and moving at a faster pace. The low pressure extended to 905 mb allowing it to be the lowest recorded pressure for any hurricane in the month of October in the Atlantic during that time. It spiraled toward the center in a counter-clockwise pattern and out the top in the opposite direction increasing in speed. Mitch was announced as a tropical storm and later classified as a Category 5 hurricane on the 23rd of October 1998.

Honduras and Nicaragua were especially hit hard by Hurricane Mitch. Lingering over the Western Hemisphere, the hurricane moved with several days of continuous rainfall over the Swan Islands, an island chain off the coast of Honduras. Heavy rain caused rivers and lakes to overflow affecting about 18 different departments. Nearly 50%-60% of the roads and bridges were damaged, crops were lost and around 3,800 water supply systems providing water to 2.9 million people, were affected. This did not make it any easier for its inhabitants as Honduras and the other countries in Central America were just recovering from the economic effects left by El Niño, Southern Oscillation events in 1997-1998. There were floods, forest fires and droughts that weakened the country. With the hurricane still in place, 45,330 Honduran residents were told to evacuate and sheltered in localities provided. More than 11,000 people were estimated to be dead after the storm and about 9,191 were reported missing just days after it struck. As communication was lost and many individuals went missing, it was a challenge keeping record to determine the exact amount of deaths in the population.

Officials responses to formal evacuation drills and disaster preparation notices were precise and simple. It was necessary to improve building codes for the homes and stay aware of the storm’s location. Many residents in the southern portion of the country believed to not be as affected like those in the north as the storm was predicted to form in the Atlantic Ocean. The Honduran and Nicaraguan community were not well educated on the storm and were not given enough effective resources in order to combat the hurricane. As usual, the southern region of Honduras is normally not taken into consideration during any conflict and the residents here were the most affected throughout the storm. It is unfair to have seen thousands of humble residents losing their belongings just because the Honduran officials did not take action to prepare better for Hurricane Mitch. These residents did not fully prepare for evacuation drills and any forms of disaster responses, buildings were poorly built and many families decided to move into other countries such as El Salvador and Guatemala as they were less affected by the storm. In response to this hazardous event, all the Red Cross branches throughout the nation remained on alert, especially those in the Bay Islands that were at highest risk. The Red Cross brought together actions with the local authorities and reinforcing them with vehicles and health assistance. In various departments temporary refugees were settled to shelter families that had to be evacuated from their homes. A relief team operated in both countries with enough plastic sheets and blankets, kitchen tools, clothes, shoes, and hygienic use kits. Through the local media an information campaign has been launched and information is being updated and published in the local newspapers. Mitigations of The 1998 massive hurricane, Hurricane Mitch, have allowed Central America to prepare for any other event to occur in the future. Now, when you go to the different countries in Central America, you will see building codes of open lower floors, better roof tiles and shatters implemented. Simple house designs and landscaping are taken into consideration. For the landscaping, sand and concrete are the biggest options provided.

Case Study Summary_ LaRe

Figure 1

      When thinking about case studies that I wanted to work on this semester I chose Hurricane Katrina because it was something that caused a lot of damage and it would have a lot of data to use for research. Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst hurricanes to hit the United States along with being the most expensive. The hurricane affected many states but had the biggest impact on Louisiana. With keeping that in mind I chose to mainly focus on Louisiana as the focal point of the study since it has some of the hardest-hit areas. This is because the storm sat in the Gulf of Mexico and stopped moving any further which added more power to the storm causing more damage. It was also one of the most expensive hurricanes to hit the United States, as Louisiana was not prepared for a storm this size. Much of what happened to Louisiana made it so that protocols were changed for not only evacuations but building codes. The reason why so many people were not able to leave is that the mayor waited too long to make the evacuation call, causing many citizens to leave at the same time. Due to this, the evacuation routes were blocked and many people were not able to get out in time. Something that caused a lot of damage is the storm surge. 

Figure 2

     The storm surge came before the hurricane made it to Louisiana, which caused the levees to break. Once the levees broke that is when things got more deadly for those citizens that chose to stay. Since levees are supposed to prevent water from getting in, if they fracture water is not able to get back out. This is exactly what happened with Louisiana, the levees broke therefore water came flooding in and then was unable to get back out. This caused for more damage as the water was just sitting and in some cases people were not able to get out of their homes. Many of the citizens that stayed despite the mandatory evacuation were those in the lower-class. This is because they did not have the means to be able to leave but instead tried to prepare their homes for the storm and were going to wait it out. Hurricane Katrina made it so that many people in later hurricanes opted to leave rather than staying. In order to help many people were sent to neighboring states while they did immediate recovery and restoration phases.  

Figure 3

     Much of the response once the storm ended was to get the people out that were stuck. In order to do that, FEMA came in and sent people to other states that were not affected by the hurricane. This also happened with those that had houses in the hardest-hit areas, since they had nothing to come back to. Some people have still not been able to come back since most things have not been fully rebuilt yet, despite how many years it has been since 2005. The issue is that although this is the worst hurricane to hit, Louisiana has continued to have other hurricanes hit them which have also caused damage. Since the hurricanes keep hitting them, they do not have the time or people available to rebuild some of the areas affected.  The reason Louisiana have so may hurricanes is because they are barely above sea level and they have the warm waters that are needed to make hurricanes stronger. When hurricanes are made stronger no matter how prepared you think you are something is going to happen that will show otherwise. That is exactly what happened with Hurricane Katrina, it showed all of the imperfections that they had in their plans and preparedness. A few of the things that Louisiana has worked on since Katrina is making their building codes stronger as well as having a better evacuation plan in place. Evacuations are the best way to protect people and without them, the number of deaths are able to go up when that is something that can stopped. They have also been building back their levees since that is a big thing that is able to help them, although it did not work with Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina has been a lesson to so many states when it comes to being prepared for hurricanes or any natural hazards in the years after. 

    The effects of Hurricane Katrina can still be seen in many of the cities and towns in Louisiana. This hurricane showed just how resilient the people of Louisiana are with being able to survive a storm of this size with all of the damages that it caused. Louisiana also learned a lot on how to better prepare and to protect their citizens, unfortunately it was at a cost of many lives. Louisiana have been able to better prepared for storms that were of similar size and less life has been lost in the long-run. With the effect of climate change, more severe storms are going to start happening and one of the places that will be affected the most is Louisiana and any of the other states along the Gulf of Mexico. Climate change is something that has a huge effect on many hazards with making them more deadly and hurricane season last longer. Overall, if climate change were slowed, less major hurricanes could happen resulting in less death and damages to buildings and infrastructures. 

Case Study Summary Begg (Hurricane Rita)

Hurricane Rita is known as the forgotten hurricane, as it struck southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana one month after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Hurricane Rita rapidly intensified into a Category 5 Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico with max wind speeds of 180 mph. When Hurricane Rita made landfall across western Cameron Parish in southwestern Louisiana, it had been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane with max wind speeds of 115 mph. Figure 1 shows Hurricane Rita’s track. Significant damage was caused to coastal communities, with the entire town of Holly Beach, Louisiana being completely leveled. Figure 2 shows a before and after. Massive storm surges across the coast caused mass flooding and sustained wind speeds over 100 mph were recorded, causing billions in damage.

Because Hurricane Katrina happened only one month before Hurricane Rita, more people evacuated than normal. Local and state evacuation plans estimated that only 1 million to 1.5 million people would evacuate, however, between 2.5 and 3 million people chose to evacuate. This overloaded evacuation routes and highways, causing delays of over 10 hours and traffic jams extending over 100 miles in length. Food, fuel, and water shortages followed.

There were an estimated 115 deaths from Hurricane Rita, but only 7 are directly related to the storm. All the other fatalities were from the evacuation. A majority of the fatalities came from people getting stranded in their cars and suffering from heat stroke, with 23 more coming from a bus that caught fire. An estimates 23,600 homes were deemed “severely damaged or destroyed” by FEMA, with another 39,000 had roof damage. Oil and natural gas production in the area had shut down by up to 98% because of Hurricane Rita, which caused gas shortages for the rest of the United States for a short time. Damage costs range between $10 billion and $18 billion.

Due to the issues from the evacuation, state and local officials have drawn up and updated new evacuation plans to account for much larger evacuations. Infrastructure has also been upgraded along the coast to withstand stronger storms. Even today, storm shelters are still being upgraded in Louisiana to withstand up to Category 5 hurricanes. Certain areas have recovered, while others still haven’t. Figure 3 shows what Holly Beach, Louisiana looks like today. Note how some people chose to rebuild their homes, but there remain several empty lots.

I chose to study this hurricane because not many people know or remember it. Hurricane Katrina took the spotlight from its much larger death tool and damage. However, Hurricane Rita showed just how bad the evacuation plans and infrastructure was in southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas.

Figure 1: Hurricane Rita’s track, wind speed, pressure, and dates.

Figure 2: Before and after Hurricane Rita at Holly Beach, Louisiana.

Figure 3: Holly Beach as of 2022.

Case Study Summary_McPhail

I wrote my case study on the Newcastle-Bridge Creek-Moore Tornado: An EF5, 3/4 mile wide, violent storm which devastated Oklahoma City and its surrounding counties. It claimed 36 lives, injured 583, damaged 2,500 houses, and completely destroyed another 1,800. In total, it caused the equivalent of $1.1 billion in loss, making it the fifth costliest tornado in history. Additionally, Doppler on Wheels radar allowed for the highest wind speeds ever recorded globally to be measured during this tornado at 301 mph. The 1999 Moore Tornado belonged to the Great Plains Tornado Outbreak, which in itself was a collection of massive super cell storms which in total spawned 74 tornadoes in a 21 hour time period. Additionally, Moore was also the central victim to an EF3-4 tornado in 2003, and another EF5 in 2013, which I touched on in my paper in order to compare and contrast mitigation and how the community itself remains resilient.

Simply put, the mother storm which produced the Moore tornado was the result of humid air, very high atmospheric instability, and strong wind shear. Beginning just after 6:00 AM, a “slight risk” warning for severe weather was published by the Norman forecasting station, fewer than 10 miles from Moore. Over the next 9 hours, 116 bulletins/announcements from various stations gradually upgraded the warning from slight risk, to moderate risk, to high risk, to, finally, a tornado warning. The tornado touched down in Central Grady County. Generally, it rampaged from Amber, to northern Newcastle, to the southern sections of Oklahoma City, to Moore, through Oklahoma City once again, to Del City, and, finally, into Midwest City. Two smaller, satellite tornadoes also rotated around the main one, adding to the damage. The tornado was on the ground for an astonishing 1 hour, 26 minutes before dissipating.

Oklahomans were no strangers to tornados,  including a few of high caliber. NOAA had also recently undergone a technological upheaval, which modernized stations and equipped meteorologists with new technologies to aid in forecasting/monitoring these storms. Clearly, a small city perfectly situated in the middle of Tornado Alley knew something about its risk, and post-disaster interviews described how the city felt a false sense of security for a few reasons. First, it had prepared with safety drills and public education. Second, the majority of the public felt “tornado apathy,” meaning that many tornado watches and warnings had been issued in the past, and very few of them actually produced any tornado at all. Additionally, a few citizens had private storm shelters. Many residents of Moore had experienced EF0/EF1/EF2 tornados in their lifetimes, and could not comprehend the level of destruction this one event would cause. These factors, more than demographic statistics, influenced Moore’s vulnerability. One particular story described a family who sought shelter in an inner hallway to their home. The only walls left standing after the tornado had passed were those encasing them. Additionally, among the 36 deaths, several of them were children in an elementary school without storm shelters, sparking later debate and policy about how to best protect kids at school in the event of severe weather. Furthermore, many others who sought ill-advised shelter beneath the surrounding interstates were crushed.

The damage path stretched 1,300 feet wide. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Moore received local, state, and federal workers, volunteers, and aid. Emergency shelters originally housed 1,600, and mobile food and donation centers helped sustain those who had lost everything. Main support systems in the emergency phase were FEMA and the state’s National Guard. It took until the beginning of June for volunteers to clear 58% of the debris left behind. Moore’s residents, for the most part, remained there in temporary housing during the rebuilding process.

Lastly, the tornado highlighted the need for better alert systems, more storm shelters, stronger building codes, and a change in the way the public perceived their risk in the face of a powerful tornado. With the backing of state government, 6,016 storm shelters and 20+ new warning towers had been built just in time for another EF3-4 tornado in 2003. As a result of these mitigation efforts, no fatalities occurred. However, in 2013, another EF5 tornado struck and followed a remarkably similar path to its 1999 sibling. This tornado claimed the lives of 24 people, and resulted in yet more infrastructure review–mostly centered on a large portion of Moore that had been rebuilt below minimal building standards. Overall, this case study highlights that tornado-proofing is virtually impossible due to financial and structural limitations. However, tornado resiliency can be achieved through the right incentives and interventions.

Pictures of the tornado and wreckage below (Sources: and




I did my case study on the 2005 La Conchita Landslide in California. In 2005 a landslide with over 400,000 tons of mud destroyed over 20 houses and killed ten people. Before this event happened there were fifteen days of huge amounts of rain. Due to this and the remobilization of the 1995 landslide, that also was caused because of the rain, the 2005 landslide was triggered and caused a lot of damage. The interesting thing is that the people were quite aware that there was a huge possibility that there would be another landslide before the one in 2005. Also there have been many landslides and mudslides over the past thousand years. In fact after the 1995 landslide happened, residents had to sign a waiver acknowledging that they know of the risk that comes with living there.

Although some of the residents moved after this event, many stayed. This is a small rural. community in the middle of the highway and the bluff (hill) that is right above the community. About 300 people live there and generations upon generations have lived there for many years. There are a couple of reasons the residents stayed. One was because of their socioeconomic status. This community is poorer than most. On top of that the properties decreased in price after the 1995 landslide so the people cannot afford to leave. However, the majority stay just because they are stubborn and refuse to move. Since their families have lived there forever, they do not want to leave even if it means risking their lives.

The recovery process was ineffective. Even though the emergency personnel advised the people to evacuate, they resisted and stayed. The county even asked for help from  Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue at the University of South Florida to bring in robots to help with finding the people buried under the tons of mud. However, the robots failed miserably and were sent back to Florida. In addition to this, the recovery plan that was proposed estimated $150,000,000. The county could not afford that and had to fundraise money. However, the plan to stabilize the hill was never carried out and instead a few barriers, a drainage system, and a wall to prevent small amounts of land erosion sliding down the hill was installed. This only helps with minor hazards. If there is ever a landslide, and geologists predict there will be, it will crush the houses and destroy their property once again.

The people in their own ways have tried to prepare themselves for the aftermath of another possible landslide after the 2005 one by keeping a storage shed filled with emergency supplies such as generators, radios, lights, sleeping bags, etc. They decided that if another landslide hits and crushes everything then they will just start from scratch and start all over again. The county even bought a tractor to remove dirt off the roads if need be. The people consider themselves “prepared” any future landslides because they now know to call 911, evacuate and honk their horns when the disaster hits to let others know of it.

It is amazing to think that people will rather risk their lives by staying in an extremely hazardous place then considering evacuating if possible.

Image result for la conchita,_California