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The occurrence of earthquakes is unpredictable and they are characterized by widespread loss of life and damage. They also cause a lot of panic to the affected people with some experiencing a permanently changed life there after. This report extensively looks into the effects of earthquakes on people and businesses. Regarding the former, the report focuses on the social and economic impacts. On the latter, the major focus will be on its general impacts on a business. This is covered through introduction, methods, results, conclusions and recommendations.
As one of the natural disasters, earthquakes affect people and businesses in many ways. Some of these effects are as a result of other effects from the earthquake (ripple effect). Notably, people are affected socially and economically as many lose their lives depending on the magnitude of the earthquakes. Earthquakes with stronger magnitudes like the ones experienced in Chile and Haiti lately led to massive destruction and loss of life. Socially, people are faced with a completely different social set up as many are left homeless. Families too are broken as some lose their loved ones. Children are traumatized as their lives changes possibly for good. Deviant behavior also increases after earthquake as people loot from the damaged buildings Some business have to incur huge losses due to damaged buildings, costs of repairs, damaged roads which increase costs of shipments to and from the business location and lost business opportunities. Other businesses are forced to shut down leading to loss of jobs and a negative effect on the larger economy. The aim of this research was to establish how earthquakes affect people and businesses.
In the recent past, earthquakes have become a common phenomenon. The most recent earthquake tragedies occurred in Chile and Haiti where hundreds thousands of people lost their lives. The economies of these nations are still trying to recuperate from the effects with the help of the rest of the world. The extent of damage caused by earthquakes is dependent on its magnitude. There are minor earthquakes which cause only causes tremors especially in areas which are not prone to earthquakes. However, the areas which are prone earthquakes are hit by earthquakes with stronger magnitudes. For example the recent earthquake in Chile had an 8.8 magnitude measured on the Richer scale and it’s considered to be the seventh strongest to have ever been experienced. In Haiti, it had a 7.0 magnitude while in Kobe Japan it had a magnitude of 7.2 (Georesources.co.ku 1). Earthquakes of such magnitudes have devastating effects on people and businesses. There is a massive loss of lives and widespread disruption of businesses. Businesses incur huge losses when buildings collapse, transport network is destroyed as well as other infrastructure. The survivors are faced with a dire challenge of picking up their lives again from scratch while others find it completely hard to recover from the trauma. The loss of family members and bread winners in the event of an earthquake is a major cause of these traumas. People lose their jobs as their places of work are reduced to rumbles. Basically, earthquake beckons poverty. Businesses are forced to close permanently after incurring inflated losses. The few businesses which manage to live through the experience are forced to incur extra costs of paying for new buildings. Lack of infrastructure is also a major cause of suffering to these businesses. Notably, reconstructing the damaged roads take a long time and this derails the businesses’ efforts to pick up again.
- In order to establish the effect of earthquake on the economic lives of people, I assessed the economic stability of people from a general perspective before and after the recent earthquake in Haiti. The assessment involved exploring information on the economic participation of people. I also explored researches on the number of people who have been left homeless and now living in camps. This is because this is a clear indicator of their economic situation.
- To assess the effect of earthquakes on people’s social lives, I assessed the variations of people’s social life in behavior and relation after the earthquake. Here, I paid a lot of attention to re-organization and separation of families. I also assessed the prevalence of deviant behavior after the tragedy (Li 9). Lastly, I assessed social panic caused by the earthquake.
- To determine the effect of earthquake on businesses, I assessed the number of closed businesses, the amount of loss incurred in terms of destroyed business premises and wares, loss of business due to transportation damage. I also assessed the cost associated with loss of customers due to transport disruptions and the general performance of the businesses after the earthquake.
Its important to not that this assessment will be based on previous earthquakes like Kobe, Japan, Haiti, Chile and Northridge earthquakes. The tasks above will be based on the information provided by previous researches (Meta analysis).
After carrying out an in depth assessment of the effects of earthquakes on the economic stability of people, I discovered that majority of the people directly affected by earthquake are straining economically. This is because some of them have lost their jobs while others have seen their small businesses destroyed. Others have been displaced and are living in encampments meaning they are now dependent on reliefs and can’t take part in any economic activity. Many people have been left homeless after their houses collapsed. During Kobe earthquake, a massive one million homes were affected (Bilham-Boult 80). They have been unable to rebuild their homes due to economic constraints. Most of these homes were destroyed by the resulting fire. Major transport breakdown and disruption of infrastructure such as electricity and gas supply halted many businesses which offered employment to many people. This ended up affecting them economically. Again, many people interviewed especially women and children revealed that they lost a breadwinner to the earthquake. Most of the deaths of such breadwinners occurred in major buildings where they were working.
Socially, the results on the ground shows that many families were separated and other reorganized after earthquakes. For example in Haiti, some people are still not aware of the whereabouts of some of their family members. Some people have been unable to pick up their lives after losing their loves ones while children have been orphaned. The wake of earthquake has left behind a string of widows and widowers too. Again, the homeless have been pooled together in camps and this has greatly reorganized their social set up. For example at the climax of Kobe earthquake 316,000 people were evacuated and made to live in temporary accommodation like parks, schools and community centers. During that time, the night-time temperatures were -2 degrees Celsius and they did not have sufficient blankets, clean water and food (Bilham-Boult 80). They have been forced to abandon their already established social ties and live among new people in the camps. In Chile, deviant behavior increased after the earthquake as people stole from the affected buildings. This prompted the Chilean government to put a curfew though some people still defied it. This led to police shooting some people. In Haiti, lawlessness prevailed after the earthquake as hooligans robbed people and business. People were forced to live by the gang as law took a break. Reports indicate that there is a huge increase in the rate of crime at this time when the Haiti economy is trying to implement recovery measures.
There is also a general panic among the affected people as people fear that another tragedy may occur anytime. Some especially young children are traumatized after experiencing the earthquake events. These incidents have been reported in numerous reports calling foe guidance and counseling for such children to ensure that they lead a normal life (Inter-American development Bank 1).
It was also established that earthquakes have devastating effects on almost every business irrespective of whether it’s a service or a product business. Firstly, many businesses especially those whose premises collapsed have been forced to shut down. Others have been forced to spend a lot of money to reconstruct such premises. In Chile, many businesses were looted and this led to loss of inventory. This further added up to the loss figure from the earthquake. After the Northridge earthquake, many businesses reported losses due to earthquake-related transportation damage (Boarnet 16). These losses were caused by factors like limited customer and employees’ access to the location of the business, shipping delays to and from the business, utility cutoffs, inventory loss or damage, repair costs, building damage and higher prices. Notably, the Northridge earthquake destroyed ramps, bridges, interchanges and roadways (Boarnet 7).
Conclusively, earthquakes have massive and devastating effects on people and businesses as the discussion above shows. To people, earthquakes cause economic and social impacts which have got a ripple effect. Some of these social impacts include massive loss of life, family separation and social disorganization as people are forced to live in temporary homes after they are rendered homeless. The rampant deaths lead to some children being orphaned while others are left traumatized. Deviant behavior is also on the increase as hooligans take advantage of the situation. There are also economic impacts to people where people lose their source livelihood in the wake of destruction. Destroyed homes condemn most people to poverty life. Businesses too are adversely affected with some being forced to shut down. Others incur huge reconstruction costs after huge losses.
People in earthquake prone areas should be enlightened on how to react in case an earthquake strikes. This includes advices like what to do, where to take cover in a building like under a table or stairs as well as what to do when out doors or when driving. This will be important in controlling panic and consequently control the number of deaths. Controlling the number of deaths goes a long way in curbing the social and economic impacts on people. The other recommendation would be to provide and guidance and counseling to affected people and families to help them lead a normal social life. Businesses should also be advised to take insurance covers against losses emanating from earthquakes.
Bilham-Boult, Alan. People, places and themes. New York: Heinemann, 2001
Boarnet, Marlon. Business losses, Transportation damage and the Northridge earthquake. University of California: 1996
Georesources.co.uk. Kobe Earthquake, n.d. Retrieved on 2nd April 2010 from http://www.georesources.co.uk/kobehigh.htm
Inter-American development Bank. Reconstructing Haiti: Social Services, 2010. Retrieved on 2nd April 2010 from http://www.iadb.org/features-and-web-stories/2010-02/english/reconstructing-haiti-social-services-6515.html
Li, Jinfang. Brief Introductory to Seismosociology in China, n.d. University of Delaware
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