Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes…
Earthquakes and other catastrophic events can strike suddenly on a massive scale over a wide area with a death toll in the tens of thousands. While the tsunami threat after an earthquake (Indonesia 2018 Japan 2011, Southeast Asia 2004) does allow a brief time to post a warning, often it is too little to save lives. In the case of earthquakes and volcanoes, the series of aftershocks or continued volcanic activity poses an ongoing threat in the midst of the chaos after the initial event. And in countries like Haiti which has endured the devastation and death associated with major earthquakes in 2010 and again in 2021, the recovery process take years and exposes communities to the effects of other disasters. In 2020, while Puerto Rico was still recovering from Hurricane Maria, a major earthquake struck. Learn more about our earthquake response in Puerto Rico.
Although we can identify earthquake/volcano risk regions, such as the “Ring of Fire” in the South Pacific or the San Andreas fault in Southern California, we have little warning when a sudden event devastates a country or entire region. The latest deadly earthquake in Afghanistan struck suddenly in a vulnerable region of a country struggling with many challenges and especially vulnerable to such disasters.
Sometimes the event starts a cascade of catastrophe as in the Japan Earthquake of 2011 that added a monstrous tsunami and then a nuclear disaster with reactor damage and radioactive contamination of air, soil and water. Volcanic eruptions can bury entire communities or inundate whole areas with lava flows and fill the air with deadly toxic gases or ash. The readiness challenges for effective disaster response and recovery after a catastrophic event are formidable. In 2020 we responded to the eruption of the Taal Volcano in Talisay, Philippines and we are currently monitoring a 7.1 earthquake that occurred on July 26 in the Philippines. See the latest earthquake activity via the USGS map.