Earthquake is one of the most frightening and devastating natural disasters which can be experienced by a person. They occur in several areas all around the globe and struck without any prior warning. The effects caused by the earthquake can be life threatening and destructive and besides it, earthquakes also affect the infrastructure and the economy of a country. Earthquakes can bring critical fatalities and damages in the populated regions. Several other natural hazards are also caused due to the earthquakes which may be equally and at times more destructive like volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis, or floods (Bilham, 2010). There are a number of reasons behind earthquake strikes and most of them depend on the topographical features of an area. However, in the past few years there have been a lot of major striking by earthquakes and one of the most evident reports were of the Haiti earthquake. Before the earthquake hit Haiti, it was ranked as the 145th of 169 countries in the United Nations human development index. In January 2010, Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake which was recorded at 7.0 Mw and hence it brought an intense damage to the area (Levy et al., 2010). It was marked as the most destructive and powerful earthquake in the past two-hundred years. The earthquake did not only cause massive damage to the buildings and houses but also cost too many human lives in Haiti. However it also provided Haiti a chance to prepare itself for future in order to deal with a deadly disaster like this and prevent such an extreme level of destruction.
Haiti is a small country that is located just near the peninsula in the republic Dominican. To the residents of this country, January 12, 2010 was just another day and people had no idea that their lives were just going to turn upside down in a matter of time. It was around 5 pm when the deadly earthquake hit Haiti. The earthquake was about 6.2 miles in depth and was almost ten miles to the south of Haiti (Calais et al., 2010). The earthquake killed almost 316,000 and injured innumerable people.
Medicine Sans Frontier is an organization which has been a part of Haiti for over nineteen years now and it is a non-profit organization which played a very significant role during the time when Haiti was left in a state of destruction after earthquake. MSF had an aim to provide all the possible medicinal help which Haiti needed, before and after the earthquake therefore it struggled at providing a wide range of medical services to the people of Haiti. The organization was developed to help the underprivileged people who comprised a half of the total population of Haiti as they were not able to avail the basic medical facilities (Hayes et al., 2010). Those people were not even prepared to deal with such a high scale natural disaster like earthquake. Moreover, about more than 60 percent of the already available medical facilities were destroyed during the earthquake. Most of the medical personnel and staff either lost their lives in the tragic event or left the country after the earthquake. At that time, a lot of extraordinary measures were required to be taken in order to provide as much help and assistance as the organization can, to the Haitians (Farfel et al., 2011). MSF decided to relocate the medical camps and all the available facilities to a safer place and especially where the maximum number of people can avail and get an easy access to them.
Haiti did not have enough financial resources to manage the critical situation as people had lost all or a major portion of their belongings and the remaining sources were not enough to start the recovery process (Shultz et al., 2013). However MSF was able to manage some key resources by getting financial aid from different states and the response of the supporters and helpers was overwhelming at that time. The earthquake had moved the whole Haitian population and left them in utter shock and threat for their future (Voigt et al., 2011). Haiti is an underdeveloped nation with a high rate of unemployment and a low literacy rate therefore facing such a deadly natural hazard was a crucial challenge for it (Hough et al., 2010). This earthquake made homeless to many people and they were left with no choice and were forced to migrate to over populated areas. People had to live in unsanitary conditions which further caused several medical issues and welcomed toxic diseases among the residents. The victims not only suffered physically instead a lot of these people went through post-traumatic stress disorder which was another worst outcome of this natural disaster. This terrifying event triggered several cases of psychological disorders which were reported in a majority of people and in different age groups.
The camp life and mishandling of refugees provided a go to social malpractices as women were sexually assaulted in the refugee camps and there was no one to justify or report these illegal acts which accelerated the depression attacks particularly in the women (Liu et al., 2011). According to a close calculation, about a quarter of the population suffered from these depressive mental aftershocks which means that a long time span and expert treatments were required for their complete recovery.
Haiti already had a high poverty rate and the earthquake added fuel to fire. Already there was an acute shortage of educational institutes in Haiti and the earthquake destroyed those fewer existing organizations. But yet the value of education in Haiti at that time can never be taken for granted because it played a really significant role in creating awareness among the people. According to the United States, the experts’ reports stated that this was the largest earthquake tragedy in the last 65 years (O. Eberhard et al., 2010). In order to help the Haiti, the United States sent troops to control the current situation and not only that but it also provided food and shelter to the victims of the earthquake (Green Rebekah, 2010). The troops took extraordinary measure, developed and implemented strategies to bring stability and settlement after the disaster. Many people lost their beloved ones and the families broke down due to several deaths and casualties, some even lost in the hustle and bustle and could not be found later. These troops helped in locating these unidentified bodies and provided shelter to the refugees alive.
The fact cannot be denied that the prevention of earthquakes is impossible. There are no hard and fast rules to be followed to stop the earthquakes but yet extraordinary measures can be taken in order to minimize its disastrous effects and devastating situation. The researchers have identified certain reasons behind the occurrence of such highest level of destruction caused by Haiti earthquake (Neis, Singler and Zipf, 2018). Some of these are listed below.
- The two sides of the fault line moved pass each other at a very suitable timing and most of it was around the boundary. That is why when one layer slid passed another, there was a shaking of earth, which was almost 10 meter deep. It was quite enough to cause this level of destruction in Haiti.
- Haiti buildings were really old and tend to crumble already and it took a shake like the 2010 earthquake for the buildings to collapse down to earth, causing a massive destruction. Every other earthquake is different from the other one, depending on the location of the occurrence (Singh, Waseem Mehdi and Manish Sharma, 2010). The intensity of earthquake was really high as it was recorded at a 7.0 magnitude and that makes sense about the huge devastation.
- With an earthquake which is such deep as in Haiti, there are chances that the earthquake energy changes and can go through the earth crust before it is able to reach the surface of the earth. There are possibilities that in this situation, there was not that much shaking but it had been observed to cause more damage than expected.
Unfortunately, Haiti has a poor economy therefore they do not have enough supplies, latest technologies and strong foundations of the buildings in the country which is why the damage was too much for Haiti to handle and manage the aftermath of the disaster. Due to the lack of environmental awareness and the non-availability of the innovative machinery and tool to handle any natural disasters, Haiti was not able to manage this destructive situation (History encyclopedia 2017).
Haiti could not manage the massive number of victims who were left famished and homeless with zero access to the food resources and shelter. Haiti’s government faced severe problems in providing basic facilities to the citizens while the nation was absolutely not prepared for such a huge level of damage. The figure 1.1 shows the aftereffects of the Haiti earthquake even after 3 years. The 7.0 Mw earthquake that struck Haiti was of the same strength as the Loma Prieta earthquake that struck San Francisco during the 1989 World Series (Cavallo, Powell and Becerra, 2010). But Haiti’s earthquake was closer to the surface as it was 6.2 miles below the surface and just 10 miles away from the capital of Port-au-Prince and that’s why its impact much stronger and damaging.
Figure 1.1 Haiti after 3 years of earthquake.
In order to prevent such a devastating situation like the one after the earthquake of 2010, the country needs to take necessary precautionary measures which can be helpful in case of the heavenly hazard in the future. Haiti did not have enough assistance and resources of its own that is why they had to seek help from the United States in order to save the people at that time (Figure 1.2) (Goggins, Mascaro and Mascaro, 2012). Los Angeles helped Haiti at the time of earthquake and sent their best armed forced to rescue the lives.
Figure 1.2 Members of Los Angeles helping Haiti after the earthquake 2010.
Haiti was overwhelmed under the burden of debt so again there laid a financial problem to maintain its future prevention strategies (Margesson and Taft-Morales, 2010). The government managed to increase the clean water supply for the Haitian population and provided the shelters which were constructed according to the instructions by the experts which would help them protect against a collapse in case of any natural disaster in the future.
Moreover, they should give a proper awareness of the environmental changes and how every citizen should play their part in future disasters (Bayard, 2010). They are working hard to increase the literacy rate of Haiti and therefore the idea of being more supportive with one another should be promoted. Training the refugees and setting medical camps has played a significant role in the history and Haiti should make the further improvements in the provision of such mobile facilities (Yates and Paquette, 2011). Earthquake was just an excuse, it was indeed a wakeup call for Haiti to realize that even before the earthquake, it was among the under developed countries. Haitians, who live in abroad, send money more often than usual after the earthquake which helped in increasing the GDP of the Haiti to almost five times than earlier.
After the earthquake, Haiti was able to work for their economy as it was not stable even before earthquake had hit this country.
January 2010 was the year that changed the lives of too many people in Haiti. The earthquake of 7.0 Mw magnitude changed the nation’s vision and made them extraordinary conscious about their future plans. After all these years, the people of Haiti are still trying to recover from the massive loss of 2010 (DesRoches et al., 2011). There are many organizations and fundraisers that are still working to make sure that the people of Haiti get all the basic needs that they deserve and are devoid because of the earthquake that took a long time ago. The 2010 earthquake affected Haiti socially, economically, financially and caused massive life threats to people who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorders. However after a huge suffering, the consequences were able to help Haiti realize the significance of a developed plan which should be implemented in order to avoid any future troubles in case of natural disasters. It will not be right to say that the citizens of Haiti are now well prepared for any natural disaster however they do know that they need to be better, work hard to maintain the economy and stay united if they are determined to fight against any thing that can be a threat to them in the form of a natural disaster.
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