Unit I Essay and Journal Entry

Unit I Essay and Journal Entry

MSE 6301, Risk Management 1


Course Learning Outcomes for Unit I Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:


  1. Analyze the concept of risk within emergency management. 1.1 Identify the various types of risks and hazards communities may face. 1.2 Explain why it is important for public and private sectors to understand how risks and hazards


can affect them. 1.3 Describe the importance of assessing a community’s vulnerability and risk regarding disaster




Course/Unit Learning Outcomes


Learning Activity




Unit Lesson Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Unit I Essay




Unit Lesson Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Unit I Essay




Unit Lesson Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Unit I Essay


Reading Assignment Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Hazards, Vulnerability, and Disaster Risk


Unit Lesson Community preparation for disasters is imperative for life safety, business continuity, and the ability to work towards a quicker recovery in the event of a disaster. Each community experiences one form of hazard (tornado, earthquake, hurricane, flooding, or chemical issue) or another, depending on the geographic region where it is located. There are two types of hazards that are associated with emergency management: natural hazards and man-made hazards. Natural hazards include hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, winter storms, micro-bursts, and other natural phenomenon created by nature. Man-made hazards can be divided into technological and sociological hazards. On the other hand, man-made hazards are those including terrorist events, chemical leaks, transportation disasters, and many others that include willful intent to cause harm or death (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). It is important for both the public and private sectors to understand the types of hazards that impact communities. The ability to train, educate, prepare, and respond to disasters allows the community to become fully engaged in disaster awareness. Earthquakes are one of the most dangerous natural disasters since they occur with frequency, cannot truly be predicted, and cause damage to infrastructure. Although earthquakes cause a relatively low number of deaths, there is still damage incurred to buildings, pipelines, critical infrastructure, and areas beneath the surface of the earth that are unable to be seen. Earthquakes have a tendency to spawn other natural phenomena such as landslides, tsunamis, and dam failures that may cause




Vulnerability, Hazards, and Disaster Risk Assessment


MSE 6301, Risk Management 2






inland flooding in addition to the issues surrounding building and infrastructural damage (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). Hurricanes are one of the strongest forces of natural disasters that impact coastal regions. Hurricanes are divided into categories one through five. The higher category number indicates higher wind speeds, more damage, and possible catastrophic consequences from the impending storm. Hurricanes also spawn another natural disaster—tornadoes. Since the atmosphere is so unstable and is saturated with moisture, the likelihood of a tornado following a hurricane increases. Along with the tornadoes, following a hurricane, flooding from high tides, torrential rains, and levee failures may also be some of the consequences. Two of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history were the Galveston hurricane in 1900 and Hurricane Katrina. Both natural disasters impacted these communities for years with heavy loss of life, changing the geographic face of the regions impacted by the storms, and also changing storm predictions as well as updating response efforts to the devastated regions. Tornadoes are among the most violent and unpredictable storms that are included in natural disasters. Although the advent of technology has improved the chances of predicting this type of storm, there is still a great risk of these storms appearing suddenly, without warning, and not providing adequate time for meteorologists to provide advanced notice and warning to take shelter to those who may be in the path of the storm. Most areas that are impacted by tornadoes include Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, and a few other states that are located in what is referred to as “Tornado Alley.” The greatest loss of life and damage occur in mobile home areas; homes of poor construction; and to those who are in the special needs populations, such as the physically challenged, elderly, and children (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). Flooding is the most common type of natural disaster found in the U.S. Although there are many types of flooding, depending on the geographic region, there are times when the flooding will occur with torrential rains, tornadoes, hurricanes, and, in some instances, melting snow in the northern regions of the country. Flood risk assessments are completed to indicate the probable number of times flooding will occur every 100 years. In Europe, between 1950 and 1990, flooding occurred with increased frequency, causing billions of dollars in damage. Thus, there was a need to increase mitigation practices and change the face of how construction was being implemented along Danube and Elbe Rivers during the reconstruction periods after this flooding (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). Man-made disasters occur in many different locations globally and can be considered to be unpredictable since most are considered to be accidents. The terrorist acts with gas dispersal, atomic weapons, and chemical releases are considered the extreme when handling man-made disasters. Many of these terrorist events result in human life loss. These usually have political purposes and are typically used to cause chaos, create injuries, and cause major disruptions in daily activities. Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) devices are the most common used in the systematic terrorist approaches. The most common form of device is explosive since it can be created, hidden, and transported easily. Political tensions between nations or between the nation and terrorist organizations can also create unrest and fear within the communities/tribes. Combat can ensue between various military and terrorist factions with chemical weapons and can result in using those weapons upon civilians (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). A population can be impacted by a disaster economically, physically, socially, and with personal hardships. On the other hand, if there were any community divisions, the disaster might provide opportunities for collaboration, communication, and fostering growth between those entities that may have been divided before. Catastrophic disasters within the United States have initiated government response to formatting and creating new policies for disaster relief, response, and recovery at the national level. Disasters become a political issue when the magnitude of the disaster has been classified as a catastrophe. Disasters can be distinguished into six different categories: political, social, physical, psychological, demographic, and economic. A community’s hazard vulnerability is determined by its geographic location and the impact the hazard can have upon that population. Vulnerability can be defined as a combination of physical, social, coping capacity, institutional, and physical weakness of a given population and community. Vulnerabilities may be divided into social, human ecology, and the hazards that pose different risks. One of the most vulnerable populations at risk during a disaster is the elderly. The majority of lives that were lost during Hurricane Katrina were from the elderly population (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). Due to the physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, and functional limitations, the elderly are most likely to be impacted during a disaster. Poor communities are also influenced by disasters due to the fact that within those communities the likelihood of well-constructed


MSE 6301, Risk Management 3






buildings is minimal. The infrastructure is not well developed; mobile homes, pre-fabricated homes, and lower-income housing do not provide adequate protection against severe storms. Minority-dominated and ethnically diverse communities are also more vulnerable to disasters due to their classification in the social structure, social capital, and decreased access to lifelines and life safety measures. The lack of political empowerment and involvement also provide a disadvantage to these populations (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). In order to prepare for disasters, risk assessments need to be performed. Money that is available through grants, access to resources, and training and education are all key elements that are needed to assist in the physical and structural risk-reduction methods for vulnerable populations. In an effort to further mitigate the impact of disasters upon these vulnerable communities, continual efforts are needed in developing community learning programs about disasters, developing effective messages and early warning systems and shelters, encouraging communities to have translators to deliver the warning messages in the event of a disaster, and minimizing the amounts of monies being spent on other unnecessary supplies due to political bias. Intervention measures should also be included in recovery and business continuity (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). Geographic information systems (GIS) can also be used to map and visualize the vulnerabilities to those areas that are most likely to be impacted by a disaster. The challenge to emergency managers is being able to predict what types of vulnerabilities are going to be present in their communities. The ability of emergency managers to develop a comprehensive plan that includes the vulnerable populations, the community stakeholders, and those who are working as consultants in disaster preparedness will be imperative to life safety and risk reduction methods for vulnerable communities prone to disasters (Kapucu & Özerdem, 2013). Past experiences, training, education, and disaster management will be the keys to success regarding the emergency manager’s ability to create a well-developed plan for their location.


Reference Kapucu, N., & Özerdem, A. (2013). Managing emergencies and crises. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.


Suggested Reading In order to access the following resource, click the link below:


This study highlights an international approach to cost benefit analysis (CBA) in India and Pakistan in drought and flood prone areas. Disaster risk management (DRM) approaches will also be reviewed to demonstrate the effectiveness of risk intervention in these remote areas. Kull, D., Mechler, R., & Hochrainer–Stigler, S. (2013). Probabilistic cost-benefit analysis of disaster risk


management in a development context. Disasters, 37(3), 374-400. Retrieved from https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://search.ebscohost.com/logi n.aspx?direct=true&db=tsh&AN=88105870&site=ehost-live&scope=site




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