Increase in natural disasters hurts citizens, economy

By Ebbie Davis, Staff Writer

Natural disasters have hit the United States with full force since the beginning of 2011, resulting in deaths, damage and debt.

Dictionary.com defines natural disaster as “any event or force of nature that has catastrophic consequences, such as an avalanche, earthquake, flood, forest fire, hurricane, lightning, tornado, tsunami or volcanic eruption.”

Although nature attacked in areas around the globe, shaking Japan, striking famine in East Africa and flooding Australia, it definitely took refuge in the States during 2011. The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency declared 91 disasters this year in the US alone. This is the highest disaster count since FEMA began calculating them over 40 years ago.

If tornadoes and hail falling out of the sky were not enough, then picture the shock of earthquakes along the East coast. These disasters are not the only types hitting the nation; we are also experiencing some of the worst wildfires, breaking records in both Arizona and New Mexico, according to the Associated Press.

In the opinion of Will Duncan, freshman engineering major, disaster hit the hardest on April 27 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the form of a large tornado.

Only two weeks after the April 15 tornado, he recalls the sirens sounding yet again. He, like many others,  had become accustomed to hearing the sirens and did not think anything of them.

After about 20 minutes in the basement, Duncan and his father traveled into town to see if there was damage.

“It looked like a war zone; there were police everywhere, people were stumbling around in a daze and it was complete decimation,” Duncan said. “Buildings were completely gone.”

The EF4 tornado that swept across the Southeast was just one of many disasters that hit the nation this year. Tennessee alone has encountered five major disasters during this calendar year, leading the nation in declared disasters represented by a single state.

According to the Associated Press, during the last week of April, 305 tornadoes resulted in 327 deaths and nearly $7 billion in insured losses worldwide.

Because of the increasing number of disasters, the amount of money needed to repair neighborhoods, businesses and homes rose as well.

With the cash supply dwindling, FEMA may be faced with difficult decisions in the near future about how they plan on preserving the 2012 natural-disaster fund.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.