The Sichuan Earthquake occurred on May 12, 2008, in the Sichuan province of southwestern China. The epicenter of the 7.9 earthquake was located near the city of Dujiangyan, depicted in Image one below, about 50 miles from the capital Chengdu. The earthquake was the result of the Indian-Australian and Eurasian plates, also known as the Eastern Tibetan Plateau and Sichuan Basin, colliding along the Longmenshan Fault depicted in Image two below. The Longmenshan Fault is a thrust fault and the compression of the Indian-Australian plate and the Eurasian plate shifted the ground in two locations. When the plates collided they thrusted the ground approximately 29 feet in some places. Around 90,000 people were counted as dead or missing by the Chinese government assessment, with an additional 375,000 people injured from falling debris and building collapses. 

     For decades, Chinese scientists have known of the potential risk of being along the Longmenshan Fault. The Wenchuan earthquake that occurred in 1933 was studied intensely in the 1970s and has always resulted in a strong fault alignment that could cause a huge quake in the future. Though with the knowledge of the faults history, Chinese experts emphasized that at the time they were unable to predict the occurrence of the Sichuan earthquake. Many scientists did advocate for stronger precautionary measures but did not warn the government as strongly as they would have liked. They underestimated the seismic danger and the Longmenshan fault did not appear on the watch list of likely troubled spots. 

     For years the Sichuan Basin had a good natural environment to produce specialty products and a large labor force. Some specialty products cultivated included grain, meat, rapeseed, and silkworm cocoon. The terraced area or commonly long narrow strips of land was used for a multitude of irrigation with different methods of growing. A large majority of the population made their livelihood from agriculture with some working for themselves and others in factories.

     The traditional way to enter the Sichuan area used to be through the dangerous Yangtze Gorges in the east through Chongqing or the deep canyons and swift currents of the Dadu and Jinsha rivers in the west. Since the 1950s railways have been built and steel bridges have been constructed over the rivers in the west.

     With these factors in mind and the lack of preparation and precaution from the Chinese government, the people of the Sichuan province were very vulnerable to the 2008 quake. The steep terrace land caused many landslides and mudslides to block routes and crush animals, people, agriculture, railways, and more. There were no exit strategies in place as the government themselves didn’t think the area was a big danger zone.

     For the phases of recovery, the emergency phase for Sichuan took several years to complete. Immediately, the Chinese government dispatched rescue teams, medical workers, and thousands of soldiers to help citizens. More than 80,000 people were killed and a minimum of 4.8 million people were left homeless. The Chinese government acted in emergency and set out an action plan that would help rebuild new homes for the survivors. Over the next three years, the Chinese government reformed building codes and built modernized hospitals, schools, and sanitation plants.

     Their restoration plan was to have surrounding provinces that weren’t heavily affected by the earthquake to send help. During the beginning months, the Chinese government also requested help from the UN. The UN refugee agency supplied shelter and food and was also accompanied by the Italian and Irish governments. With the help and planning of the Chinese government, the reconstruction phase was completed in three years. The Chinese government built 6.6 million new houses, more than 100 towns were built and around $48.3 billion dollars was spent.

     To prevent future disasters, China has made considerable effort to secure the Sichuan people’s safety. The Chinese government has made and enforced new building codes. Provided new housing for survivors that had styles chosen by the families inhabiting them. They also adopted an earthquake warning system that blares on TVs and mobile phones and put earthquake training drills in schools.

Image One –

Image Two –

Case Study Summary_O’Connor

I picked the 1868 volcano eruption of Mauna Loa for my case study. I chose this case study because my mom was born and grew up in Hawaii so volcanos fascinate me. I grew up listening to my grandpa’s stories of volcano eruptions and I always thought they were very cool. I chose this specific eruption because it was the most devastating disaster in all of Hawaii’s history. Not many places in the world have these kinds of disasters.

On March 27th, 1868, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa called Moku‘āweoweo began erupting. Several people reported hearing an explosion from the mountain followed by a giant plume of black smoke that rose thousands of feet above the mountain. People also reported seeing a glowing light from the molten lava that streamed out of the volcano. The next day, on March 28th, the first earthquake struck the island. The first earthquake was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Kaʻū on the southern portion of the island. This earthquake was reported to topple the walls of four or five stone churches and destroy Captain Brown’s stone house in Kahuku. A steady stream of quakes followed in the subsequent days at rates of 50-300 per day, with at least one as large as a 6.0-magnitude. Gas plumes could be seen from locations migrating down Mauna Loa’s southwest rift zone. Volcanic gas was also being released from a fissure that recently opened in the southwest of the island due to the frequent earthquakes. Volcanic gas engulfed the island and was slowly drifting towards the other islands. Around 4 pm on April 2nd, the Kaʻū earthquake struck at a 7.9 magnitude.The damage of this earthquake was extremely destructive and started a chain of natural hazards that caused the islands further damage. The earthquake caused a huge mudslide that was measured to be about a half-mile wide and twenty feet deep. This mudslide took out ten homes in Wood Valley and killed thirty-one people and hundreds of livestock at William Reed’s Kapāpala Ranch. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory estimates that the entire island south and east of Mauna Loa’s summit and rift zones moved seaward and subsided several meters during the earthquake. The tremors were so intense that they also spurred a small eruption in the Kīlauea Iki crater and reportedly caused cracks at the summit of Kīlauea. All this activity and debris falling into the sea then caused a massive tsunami. The tsunami was reported to be a series of at least eight waves instead of one large wave. One of the waves in the series was reported to be at least 60 feet high in Kaʻū. Many coastal villages, like the villages at ʻĀpua Point and Keauhou, were completely destroyed. When the tsunami hit, forty-six Native Hawaiians died. Five days after the massive 7.9 earthquakes, on April 7th, a fissure opened. Lava was reported to be spewing from the fissure at five hundred to a thousand feet into the air. The main lava stream was about a mile wide, with three smaller branches running off from the sides. The lava flow managed to reach the sea within only four hours at a speed of 2.7 miles per hour. The flow lasted for five days and destroyed four thousand acres of Kahuku ranch. No human lives were lost during the fissure eruptions, but some families were trapped in their homes for weeks due to the lava flow. After the eruption, it was discovered that a total of seventy-seven Native Hawaiians lost their lives due to the connected natural hazards that occurred from the eruption.

The emergency phase of the hazard was carried out by the government of Hawaii. This included King Kamehameha the fifth and his government cabinet. They waited till the hazards were over to act so they could assess the damage. They departed from Hawaii’s capital of Honolulu on April 8th aboard a boat. The relief party arrived in Hilo on April 10th. They discovered a total of two hundred and one houses were destroyed from either the mudslide, earthquake, tsunami or lava flow. The victims on the big island of Hawaii whose homes had been destroyed were relocated to the King’s private residences in Puna. During their relief party mission, King Kamehameha and his cabinet helped a total of 799 victims of the disaster.

Since this disaster, a lot has changed in the ways of preparation and mitigation for Hawaii. Hawaii implemented its tsunami warning siren system as a result of the great tsunami of April 1st, 1946. This tsunami killed one hundred and fifty-nine people. This tsunami warning system was established in 1969 by the U.S Coast and Geodetic survey. Hawaii has also implemented a multi-hazard mitigation plan. Hawaii’s first-ever mitigation plan was implemented on October 27th, 2004. This plan has been updated every five years since the plan was first implemented. The last updated plan was created in 2018, so they will be releasing a new plan in 2023. This plan includes preparation and mitigation for all hazards that are possible in Hawaii.


When people think of Colorado and natural disasters, usually, these days, they’re thinking of the wildfires. I can’t blame them–I think about those wildfires a lot, too. Wildfires are hardly the only natural hazard that Colorado faces, though. Between the state’s mountainous terrain and its dry, often drought-like climate, flash flooding is a serious concern. I grew up being told to be mindful of when it rains upstream, to avoid going down to the river in steep canyons, to never camp anywhere but on high ground. I heard the weather radio’s routine weekly report every Wednesday morning. Bus stop benches and road-side ad boards would have slogans such as “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” linked to images of a car stopped in front of water pooling on a street, and the walking trail alongside the river that runs through my hometown, Fort Collins, had flood water markers at regular intervals–reminders of one of the worst floods in Fort Collins’ history. My point in listing all of these experiences is that the people of Fort Collins, Colorado are no strangers to flash floods, and floods in general. I grew up surrounded by the active efforts of the city and community to ensure flash flood preparedness, and so I was curious as to how we had come to this point. The Spring Creek Flood of 1997 is an event that every Fort Collins kid is at least aware of, and most can point to the memorial in Creekside Park (see Figure 1) that commemorates the five people who died in the flooding, but most of the people who lived through the flood don’t like to recall it, so the specific details of the event are mostly unknown to us. With this background, I decided that the case study project was the perfect opportunity to do a deep-dive into the local history that has clearly had an impact on my community’s culture,

Figure 1: Jack Kreutzer’s “Human Spirit” statue stands in Creekside Park to commemorate the 1997 Spring Creek Flood.

On July 27th, 1997, after weeks of little to no precipitation, rain began to fall on Fort Collins, CO and the surrounding region. The rain continued on and off all day, thoroughly saturating the ground. When it began raining in earnest on the evening of July 28th, eventually peaking at a rate of 5 inches of precipitation in an hour, the freshly fallen water had nowhere to go and instead began to pool. By the time the rains stopped, 10-14.5 inches of water had fallen on Fort Collins within 31 hours–nearly equal to the city’s annual rainfall. The consequential flooding covered the campus of Colorado State University, bringing water levels up to 10 feet deep in some places. 39 buildings on campus were damaged, nearly half a million books were lost when the library flooded and one of its walls caved in, and the doors to the student center shattered. Between the flooding on campus and elsewhere in the city, emergency dispatch was receiving an average of one call every 16 seconds. In a nearby section of town, shortly after the student center doors shattered, two trailer parks were inundated with water. A 19-foot railroad berm that had previously been holding back the contents of a 50-acre water detention basin broke, flooding the trailer parks just on the other side of the tracks with a 8,250 cfs torrent. This torrent derailed four train cars, triggered a natural gas explosion (see FIgure 2), and killed four people. An additional person was killed in the flooding nearby, bringing the sum of deaths to five. In total, over 200 homes were completely destroyed, both trailer parks were a total loss, and 1,500 homes and businesses were damaged, amounting to over $250 million in property damage citywide. Footage of the flooding is available here:

Figure 2: Fires resulting from the natural gas explosion burn while the trailer park floods. A firefighter wades through the water. Source:

Despite the losses, the Fort Collins community bounced back with remarkable speed. Thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers, summer classes at CSU were back up and running within two days. A community of volunteers likewise helped to clean up the city proper and shelter those displaced by the flood. The city received over $100 million in disaster relief. Within two years, the city had completely recovered, though the trailer parks were never rebuilt.

In the wake of the Spring Creek Flood of 1997, Fort Collins invested substantial resources into flood preparation, mitigation, and adaptation. They installed a series of rain and water level gages along the various streams flowing through the city, resulting in a flood early warning system composed of one of the densest networks of gages in an urban setting in the United States, and by 2015, two-thirds of the city’s 100-year floodplain had been converted to parks and natural areas that double as water detention ponds. The city also implemented a regulation that requires that there be no floatable, unsecured materials in the floodplain. The benefits of this regulation became clear during the 50-year flood event that took place in Fort Collins in 2013, when the flood came and went without inflicting any structural damage to buildings.  After years of mitigations and adaptations inspired by the 1997 flood, FEMA listed Fort Collins as a Class 2 city in 2021 in their Community Rating System, giving citizens 40% off their insurance. Only seven cities in the country hold that Class 2 rank, and only one has a Class 1 rank. In short, after the 1997 Spring Creek Flood, Fort Collins invested enough in flood preparedness to become one of the 8 best prepared cities in the country.

Today, Fort Collins continues to remember the flood through city-commissioned art memorials located in Creekside Park, where the trailer parks once stood and where four people died. Clearly these memorials are helping to keep the memory of the flood and the reasons we prepare alive, because without them, I never would have written this case study.

“Raindrops” stands in Creekside Park to commemorate the 1997 Spring Creek Flood. The lowest three water lines indicate, bottom to top, a 10-year flood, a 50-year flood, and a 100-year flood. The topmost marker shows the water level during the Spring Creek Flood of 1997. Source: Author’s father, 2022.

Case Study Summary_Luckabaugh

I picked Hurricane Irene for my case study, because hurricanes and severe weather have always been incredibly fascinating to me. Living on the East Coast my whole life, I grew up listening to hurricane forecasts and would always be glued to the tv during coverage of whatever hurricane was making landfall. Since Hurricane Irene occurred in 2011, I have vivid memories of listening to news stories about the storm and seeing the impacts.

Hurricane Irene formed off the West Coast of Africa and tracked across the Atlantic Ocean, moving through the Bahamas and cruising offshore of the East Coast U.S. until it made landfall in Cape Lookout, North Carolina. As it passed through the region, it continued to move north until it made a second landfall in Brigantine Island, New Jersey. Irene caused severe and catastrophic damage in many places along the East Coast. In particular, it hit North Carolina, New York, and Vermont quite hard, and these places suffered severe and lasting damages. Figure 1 shows the track of the storm.

(Figure 1)

In total, Hurricane Irene caused 48 deaths (40 of which occurred in the U.S.). Total damage estimates from the storm amounted to $15.8 billion, making it an extremely costly storm for its time, in fact one of the most expensive storms for the region in many years. It dropped a maximum of 15.7 inches in one spot in North Carolina. The largest storm surge was around 7 feet, in North Carolina. Out of the 251 towns in Vermont, 223 of them suffered major damages, especially from flooding. Irene was identified as the worst disaster (at the time) in Vermont since catastrophic flooding happened in 1927.  Figure 2 shows composite color images of Irene as it approached the Eastern U.S.

Figure 2

Because of Hurricane Irene, many towns and municipalities in Vermont discovered the importance of Incident Command, preparedness planning, mitigation strategies, and the value of the Emergency Operations Center. After Irene, many towns updated their Emergency Operations Plans and built back their communities in ways that would resist floods, as well as implemented more trainings for ICS and disaster management. New York also worked to improve responses and mitigate future disastrous circumstances by updating plans and such. North Carolina, having experienced numerous strong hurricanes in the past, did not seem to make quite as many changes after the storm despite having experienced severe impacts.

Irene had such strong impacts due to the fact it was a slow moving storm — meaning many places in its path experienced heavy, intense rainfall for longer periods of time than they would during a fast-moving storm. This exacerbated flooding in general. In Vermont though, orographic uplift from the Catskill Mountains caused even heavier rainfall, due to the fact air was being forcibly lifted up the mountains to condense and precipitate out. Due to the topography in Vermont, rainfall was channeled into mountain valleys, where the most intense flooding occurred. Because of this effect, Vermont experienced some of the worst floods from Irene, even though the storm was already downgraded to a less intense storm by the time it reached the state.

Overall, Irene made a lasting impact on many communities throughout the Eastern U.S., acting as a learning experience for officials and residents. Mitigations have been put in place (such as through raising homes, buying out properties in flood zones, etc) in areas that were strongly impacted and those who responded to the disaster were able to directly apply that knowledge to other Hurricanes (such as Sandy) in the following years. Communities have mostly recovered from the storm, but the memories will always linger for people to learn from.

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. 


I chose the Nepal earthquake of 2015 as my case study because it was one of the few events that I remembered discussing before in classes that I took in high school and I thought that learning about this and how the people handled this would be interesting. This event was caused by a severe earthquake that struck near the city of Kathmandu in central Nepal on April 25, 2015. The 2015 mainshock destroyed many buildings and infrastructure in urban and rural areas and triggered numerous landslides and rockfalls in the mountain areas, blocking roads and hampering rescue and recovery activities.

In this event, 35 out of 75 districts were affected with 2.6 million people were displaced from their homes. About 9,000 people were killed, many thousands more were injured, and more than 600,000 structures in Kathmandu and other nearby towns were either damaged or destroyed.

Initially, in response to this event, the Indian Army sent three military commanders to Nepal to coordinate, oversee and fast-track the rescue, relief, and evacuation efforts. Also, the Government of Nepal launched a large-scale relief operation with support from humanitarian partners. Over 100 international search and rescue and medical teams arrived in Nepal within 24 hours. Local communities, volunteers, youth groups, the private sector, and neighboring countries joined the effort.

Eventually, the Government of Nepal, local governments, and Nepali society have successfully launched such a recovery program, by first, carrying out numerous activities aimed at re-establishing a sense of normalcy in earthquake-affected areas. Many transportation routes and essential services have been restored, unsafe conditions created by the earthquake have been mitigated, and the basic needs of households have been supported.

They had also developed a system to coordinate and finance medium- and long-term recovery, which was put in place with the establishment of the National Reconstruction Authority and National Reconstruction Fund in late 2015 and with the approval of its governance structure soon after. The National Reconstruction Authority was tasked with reconstructing more than 800,000 damaged homes and other buildings. Two years after the earthquake only about 28,000 of those homes and buildings of those that qualified to receive government assistance for reconstruction had been rebuilt. About a year later about 113,000 were rebuilt.

Since this major event for Nepal, there have been some things that have changed for the better, since before this they weren’t prepared. The population has become more aware that these kinds of events can happen, and they have taken measures to mitigate another earthquake from being as big of a disaster as this one was by implementing safety programs, and as talked about before changing how buildings were made to better withstand earthquakes. Also, one of the most important things that Nepal has done was implement the School Earthquake Safety Program. This program provided funding to schools so students could practice earthquake safety drills and masons received training to make the school buildings more resilient.

Case Study Summary- Verna

I chose to research the 2010 earthquake that happened in Haiti because I experienced it firsthand. I was outside with my friends playing hopscotch. All of a sudden, we felt a strong shaking of the ground. My friends and I were confused as to what was happening so we just froze in place. After the earthquake, my mom and I slept outside for a couple of days. The earthquake did a lot more damage in Port-au-Prince. Right after the earthquake, my mom visited the city. When she came back home, I remembered her being horrified by what she had seen in Port-au-Prince. She saw a lot of deceased people in the street. Moms and children were crying because they had lost a family member or a family member was still in the rubble of their fallen home. Bodies had to be burned because the morgue ran out of space. People were not surprised by the damage the earthquake caused to the capital of the country because many had known that buildings were not built safely. Also, the country did not have any sort of mitigations for any hazards. 

 The magnitude 7.0 earthquake happened on January 12, 2010, it lasted 35-seconds. The Haitian government estimated 316,000 fatalities with approximately 300,000 injured and more than 1 million people lost their homes. Homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, airports, and public service buildings all crumpled down to the mercy of the earthquake. 

Due to a lack of resources, Haiti could not do much after the earthquake, the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Red Cross immediately provided emergency water and medical supplies. They also provided heavy machinery to help with the search and rescue, but most people were left to do search and rescue by hand. Eventually, Governments and non-profit groups came to the country to help. After the earthquake, Some mitigations were also put in place. Seismic instruments were installed across Haiti, and the country has also established a program on seismic activities at its State University. Reconstruction for the 2010 earthquake is still going on today, the country finds it hard to move on from such a tragic day. Ten years later, many people have argued that the country is not any better. The country still has not put in place a warning system for earthquakes, and a national building code is still not available. 



Downpour in Florida caused Car Pileup in Florida

A 43 car pileup occurred on State Road 408 in Orlando, Florida after a downpour. The downpour was unexpected, so commuters were caught off guard when visibility decreased significantly, causing the pileup. The road also became slick during the downpour, adding to the situation. Surprisingly, only one person need to be transported to the hospital after the pileup. The storm arrived earlier than expected so the National Weather Service had not given a warning yet.


East Coast Faces Coastal Storm

A coastal storm is coming up the east coast from Florida. It is bringing rain and snow in some areas. The storm is going a variety of warnings like flood warnings, winter storm warnings and high wind warnings throughout the entire coast. Areas from Salisbury, MD to Boston, MA will be heavily impacted. The rain and cold temperatures in Fredericksburg and surrounding areas is the result of this storm as it travels up the coast.  The storm is supposed to dissipate by Tuesday night.




Two Colorado Fires Burn Nearly 4,500 Acres

Two fires burning near Las Animas, Colorado, were cause for concern this past week. The fires, whose origins were unknown,  were burning in a primarily agricultural area, so a majority of the damage was to grassland. 2 houses were destroyed in the blaze, and a national historic site was threatened. Residents of nearby towns were forced to evacuate, with the community opening a temporary shelter for evacuees. In addition, 15 agencies from across the state were assigned to contain the fires. The Fort Lyon Fire burned  2,926 acres between April 12th and April 17th. The Bent’s Fort Fire burned 1,648 acres in the same period of time. The spread of the fires was aided by windy conditions.




Video of Las Animas Fire Aftermath

UPDATE: Fort Lyon River Fire 50% contained; Bent’s Fort Fire up to 25% contained