Explain the differences between the impacts of hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Nargis. (40 marks)
Tropical revolving storms have a marked influence on the areas they consume. Whether it’s at the point of striking (our primary effects) or the secondary factors days/months/years afterwards: they impact on the social, environmental and economic stature of an area. This is evident when comparing two of the most notable tropical revolving storms in the last decade. Hurricane Katrina hit the MEDC coast of Louisiana and the Mississippi in the form of a category 5 storm and the category 4 cyclone Nargis hit the LEDC nation, Burma, particularly the Irrawaddy delta. Despite similar magnitudes the impacts of these two tropical revolving storms varied- so how and why was this? A telling factor of the impacts is the initial effect on the people in the event of the storms. Significantly hurricane Katrina had its most serious effect on the densely populated area of New Orleans. The storm burst the banks of the Mississippi with gusts of wind up to 345km/h and caused widespread flooding particularly to the vulnerable low lying regions of the lower 9nth ward, this quickly became the major cause of death with up to 90% of initial deaths as a result of drowning with powerful current s sweeping people away. In total with the combined force of floods and wind up to 1 million people became homeless and 1,833 died. When looking at the same factors in the Irrawaddy delta, Nargis caused almost 10x the amount of death: 138,000 lost their lives with 2.4million immediately homeless as a result of again strong 220km/h winds and flooding. Immediately then we can see a profound difference on a relatively similar impact region. This is where the infrastructure of an MEDC comes into place. To reduce the initial impacts 50% of the New Orleans population evacuated using their private cars or school buses after being warned by advanced early warning systems in place across the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally many buildings around New Orleans many of the buildings were high-rise brick/concrete constructions therefore escaped the effects of flooding, so not as many homes were completely destroyed. Alternatively in a LEDC (Burma) the area has little infrastructure or no means of evacuation: helicopters, cars, buses were not available. Buildings too did not meet the same building regulations in the USA so strong winds destroyed many homes. So how did these initial social impacts conspire to the coming days/months/years? What were the secondary effects on the people? There is evidence that shows political influences of both the USA and Burma actually worsened the social impact on the people. In Burma the state is controlled by the military or ‘Junta’ and to preserve national pride (amongst other reasons) they did not initially allow for emergency aid. This resulted in a weak slow response leaving over 2.4 million people with no shelter, water or food, and basic sanitation. Finally 7 days later the Junta allowed the most basic supplies from the UN and other East Asian countries. Added with the poor infrastructure of an LEDC by this time thousands more had died from starvation as well as outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera so in terms of long term social affects those who had survived grew weaker by the day. Moving further in the future it’s believed more than 7% of the current Burmese population are living permanently in plastic shelters as a result of low GDP per capita, characterising LEDCs as a whole, the secondary social impacts were large also. How about the MEDC then? In the event of hurricane Katrina we can see how the USA’s- despite the world’s largest economy (at the time) - government influences slowed the relief effort which in result impacted the social impact. Firstly the federal government’s relief budget could not be accessed immediately due to no emergency congress occurring before the storm hit. The Louisiana state government too...
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