Articles on Natural disasters

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In explaining the causes of wildfires, the media and policymakers typically point to environmental factors, but that’s not the whole story. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Don’t blame California wildfires on a ‘perfect storm’ of weather events

The media and policymakers often say a 'perfect storm' of environmental factors cause wildfires but that ignores the role of irresponsible urban planning and development in raising fire risks.
Plush toys, recovered from a flooded home, hang out to dry on a wrought iron gate in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Ramon Espinosa/AP

The mental health toll of Puerto Rico’s prolonged power outages

Long after the hurricane's over and the power comes back, residents can still experience lasting mental health issues.
Crews clean up debris in a neighborhood flooded by Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont, Texas, Sept. 26, 2017. AP Photo/David Goldman

Scientist at work: Measuring public health impacts after disasters

Epidemiologists study disease outbreaks in populations to determine who gets sick and why. In the wake of this year's hurricanes, they are assessing impacts from mold, toxic leaks and other threats.
Mass evacuations in response to natural disasters like Hurricane Maria are a logistical challenge, but also face psychological barriers to residents being willing and able to leave. EPA

Psychology holds key to getting people out before disaster strikes

Promoting individual resilience will contribute to reductions in disaster threats for at-risk communities globally.
Water from Addicks Reservoir flows into Houston neighborhoods following hurricane Harvey in August. Allstate expects US$593 million in insurance losses for August due to the hurricane. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

The stormy outlook for insurance-linked securities

Insurance-linked securities aim to shield insurers and governments from huge costs following disasters. But they bear eerie similarities to the securities that caused the 2008 financial meltdown.
Workers clear debris on Sept. 25, 2017 from the top of a building that collapsed in Mexico City after the Sept. 19 earthquake. AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Mexico’s road to recovery after quakes is far longer than it looks

Natural disasters are not only bad in the short term. Many families will see their health, well-being and ability to escape poverty affected for decades, and some will be affected for life.
Actress Jennifer Garner, a Save the Children trustee and ambassador, helped distribute supplies after Hurricane Harvey. Anthony Rathbun/Save the Children via AP Images

How to select a disaster relief charity

After a hurricane strikes or an earthquake makes shockwaves, support nonprofits that are clear about what they do and how they will spend your money.
Few Puerto Ricans expect the Trump administration to help the island as it did hurricane-hit Texas and Florida, yet the island’s recent bankruptcy has left it facing a humanitarian disaster. Reuters/Ricardo Rojas

Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy will make hurricane recovery brutal – here’s why

Hurricane Maria has left 3.4 million Puerto Ricans facing shortages of food, health care and transit, an American humanitarian crisis fueled by the US territory's May 2017 bankruptcy.
A satellite image of Hurricane Irma spiraling through the Caribbean. NOAA/AP

In the Caribbean, colonialism and inequality mean hurricanes hit harder

The Caribbean is facing its second deadly hurricane in as many weeks. This isn't just bad luck: the region's extreme vulnerability to disaster also reflects entrenched social inequalities.
The city of Juchitan, on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, was hit particularly hard by the 8.2-magnitude earthquake that shook the region on Sept. 7, 2017. Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Why seismologists didn’t see Mexico’s deadly earthquake coming

The Tehuantepec gap in southeastern Mexico, where this month's massive earthquake originated, was long thought to be 'aseismic.' On September 7, scientists learned otherwise.
Crews work to restore power and traffic lights knocked out by Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 8, 2016, in Flagler Beach, Florida. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Rebuilding after disasters: 5 essential reads

As Texas and Florida rebuild after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, they should plan for future climate change and design infrastructure that can respond to and recover from extreme events.
Women walk in the rain brought by Hurricane Irma in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

Hurricanes drive immigration to the US

Data reveal how hurricanes affect migration, and what it means for US immigration policy.

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