What Is A Disaster

Definition of a Disaster
Convoy of Hope defines a disaster as an occurrence that causes human suffering or creates human need that victims cannot alleviate without assistance. A disaster normally affects more than one person and may impact the safety and security of an entire community with the potential of overwhelming local resources.

Types of Disaster
The following are examples of disasters:

  • Chemicals
  • Chronic Starvation/Malnutrition
  • Church & School Shootings
  • Dam Failures
  • Earthquakes
  • Economic Downturns
  • Extreme Heat
  • Fires
  • Flooding
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Hurricanes
  • Industrial Accidents
  • Influenza Pandemic
  • Landslides
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Terrorism
  • Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Utility Interruptions
  • Volcanoes
  • Wars
  • Wildfires
  • Winter Storms
  • Workplace Violence

Classifications of Disasters
Disasters may be classified in three ways:

  1. Extent of Destruction
  2. Primary & Secondary
  3. Natural & Man-made

Extent of Destruction - Regardless of area affected, the duration of the event and reconstruction help classify disasters as local, widespread or catastrophic. A fire in a single-family dwelling can be as tragic and disastrous to those involved as a massive earthquake is to its victims.

Primary & Secondary Disasters - A primary disaster is the initial or triggering event. A secondary disaster is a consequence of the original occurrence. For example, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and fires are usually primary disasters. Any of these four initial events might trigger secondary disasters. An earthquake can cause a power failure, dam failure, tidal wave, or fire. Tornadoes often result in power outages. Floods and fires can cause a domino effect of destruction.

Natural & Man-made Disasters - Natural disasters include tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, snow, and ice - any crisis event due to weather conditions. Volcanic eruption and earthquakes are other examples of natural disasters. Man-made disasters can be of major consequence as well - fires, riots, explosions, transportation accidents, terrorist attacks, and war.

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