Erickson (108) notes that it is important for any country or region to be aware of disasters that can occur and be prepared against them. Lack of proper disaster preparedness skills may lead to major calamities in the event of risk. Hence, this is the reason why there are myriad of risks and calamities that are studied in environmental geology.
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Some of these calamities include landslides, earthquakes, flooding, mountain eruptions and wildfires. It is imperative to underscore that no particular area is immune to calamities. Some areas have already been identified to be more prone to certain natural calamities.
For example, regions close to water bodies are usually vulnerable to floods. On the same note, if an area is close to an active volcanic mountain, there may be likelihood of eruptions (Erickson 117). This paper offers a succinct analysis of three major calamities that have occurred in Ventura County in Southern California.
These are earthquakes, wildfires and flooding caused by tsunami. Besides, strategic measures that can put in place to manage these disasters have been discussed.
Earthquakes in Ventura
Earthquakes are common occurrences in Ventura. They are listed among calamities which are capable of causing massive destruction. Earthquakes are not only frightening, but also very destructive in large scale.
However, academicians have come up with ways of measuring possibilities of an earthquake occurring in an area. According to Kusky (252), 90% of earthquakes occur due to the random movement of the earth’s tectonic plates. In most cases, these movements oppose each other leading to a massive rapture.
The latter explains the reason why there are myriad of impacts caused by various scales of earthquakes. For example, the convergent-plate margin often causes compression of the tectonic plates.
The basic understanding is that whenever an earthquake strikes, there may be some damage that cannot be quantified prior to the calamity. The following are some of the earthquakes that have occurred in Ventura region.
Santa Barbara Earthquake- 21st December 1912
This earthquake lasted for about 15 minutes and sent alarm to residents who started to flee from all buildings. There was only one fatality reported; however, there were various major destructions that were reported.
Buildings sustained cracks while a chapel was flattened. A lot of property was damaged largely due to the fact that there was lack of thorough preparedness before the disaster.
Santa Barbara earthquake, 29th June 1925
This earthquake confirmed that Santa Barbara is one of the areas in Southern California that is vulnerable to spontaneous movements of tectonic plates. This was the second earthquake that occurred in this region after many years. Although this area had already been noted as one of the disaster prone spots, it was apparent that the state of preparedness was low.
Oxnard-Port Hueneme- January 20, 1999
For close to two months, this area experienced minor quakes. Even though investigations revealed that there may be no future calamities, it may not be ruled out entirely and so the county should wary of similar disasters in future. There were no reported injuries, damages or fatalities because the magnitudes were less than 2.6 on the richer scale.
Fillmore- 13th October, 2000
This was a 3.9 magnitude earthquake that occurred 14 miles closer to Fillmore. This quake did not cause any noticeable damage, fatalities or injuries. However going by the histories of other areas such as Santa Barbara, it was clear that thorough preparedness would be necessary due to vulnerability of this region.
On 11th May, 2001, weathermen predicted that there would be series of earthquakes in Ventura County in Southern California. One of the areas noted was Santa Cara River Valley in Piru. However, the calamity did not occur but people were cautioned of the possibility future occurrences. The bottom line is that the area remains prone to earthquake.
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Managing earthquake calamities
As earlier discussed, some of earthquakes in this county have severely damaged property and lead to loss of life as well. The earthquake that occurred in Santa Barbara in 1912 caused several property damages and one fatality.
Even though the intervals between the calamities are huge, it is always possible that a calamity of higher magnitude and scale can hit causing major damages. There ought to be stringent measures on how people can cushion themselves against the calamities and how the local authorities can manage the problems.
There ought to be a holistic approach on how victims of natural calamities in Ventura can be cushioned against disasters. The local authorities should identify safe areas where to converge in the event of earthquakes. There should also be strategic communication in case of such a calamity to help trace victims who may be trapped.
Additionally, local authorities should also hold conferences and educational seminars on how to cope with natural calamities. For example, if some properties are destroyed, there should be ways of recovering from these lose, and a strategic means is to insure major properties so that the process of recovery can be fast.
On the overall, the federal agencies are expected to apply mitigation measures across the board so that all the major and minor establishments are well secured.
It is crucial for people living in areas prone to these calamities to be aware of what to do in case calamity strikes. During strong earthquakes, it is advisable for victims who have caught up in buildings to seek cover under pieces of furniture in the buildings. When they are outside buildings, it is proper for them to move far from such structures since secondary effects of earthquakes are usually disastrous than the primary effects.
The population in Ventura should also keep away from utility wires and street lights. If in a moving vehicle, it is advisable to stop it and stay in the car without moving. However, the most important thing is to be always insured. To avoid incurring total losses, it is necessary to insure both property and life with credible insurance companies.
Flooding calamities in Ventura
Flooding has in many occasions been identified as a serious natural calamity due to the nature of havoc it may cause. Hudson (348) documents major havocs that have been occasioned by flooding especially near major water bodies. Most of the known flooding events occur during heavy rainy season.
While the latter cause may equally cause gross damage and heavy fatality, among the worst flooding calamities usually occur along the coastlines. For example, Ventura County has had a major Tsunami which brought in new dimensions in management of such calamities. The coast line of Ventura has been earmarked as a place where there are huge possibilities of tsunami calamities occurring, and therefore a need for strong measures.
Tsunami in Ventura County
The year 2010 had a tsunami hitting some parts of coastal line in Ventura County. There were some minor damages that were reported and which were regarded as just a tide surge. One of the damage that was caused was disconnection of boats from their docks.
Even though it was not major, it was a clear signs that Ventura coastal line was not safe from tsunami. The local authorities have in a number of times warned against a major occurrence of tsunami.
The collapse of St. Francis Dam- 12th March 1928
This is one of the major flooding calamities that have happened in Ventura County. Even though the dam is in Los Angeles, the effects were felt in Ventura County. The dam’s banks collapsed with devastating impact bearing in mind that the dam was swept away to the Pacific Ocean at Montalvo.
Some of the victims were rescued from the ocean banks which was more than 80 km away from the reservoir. The effects of this flood could have been minimized if strong walls would have been erected round the dam. This would be part of the mitigation measures from the governing authorities.
It is important to put stringent measures to make sure that the aftermaths of such effects are minimized. Even though there have been little of rain floods, they can never be ignored since the measure of rain may not be possible. There are a number of things that ought to be done as flood mitigation. Some of the measures are prerogative of the local authorities and federal agencies.
However, some other measures should be taken by the people themselves after being forewarned of possible negative outcomes. Even though calamities such as collapse of a dam may not be foreseen, a tsunami in the coastal line of the county can be predicted by agencies in the local authorities and national government.
General flood mitigation measures
Before a disaster strikes, it is always recommended for the target population to learn some of the signs and community alert systems that are put up by the local authorities. The local authorities and to some extent the people should have some emergency building materials ready for use in case of an eventuality.
The local authorities and federal agencies should improve their training and capacity building platform on viable evacuation skills and to some extent practice locals on to protect themselves.
For rain floods, it is important for national government in conjunction with the local authorities to tap the water so that it can be stored in reservoirs instead of overflowing. It is always important to insure major properties against such calamity as a mitigation measure.
During the disaster, a person who is in-doors should turn on communication media such as radio and TV to be directed on what to do by the local authorities and federal agencies on flood mitigation measures. If it persists, it is important to head to designated areas which have been marked by the local authorities.
If one is outside his or her house or in an open area, it is important for one to climb in areas where floods cannot reach. If in a car, it is important to turn around and head in areas said to be safe or anywhere raised. Evacuations should be done immediately there is an alert and where there was a warning, the local authorities should prepare in advance to evacuate people likely to be affected.
After the disaster, it is important for one not to head home until told to do so by the authorities concerned. There may be people trapped in the flood or who have been heavily affected.
For such people, it is important to lend a hand. People should be extra careful when entering affected buildings because there may be some water trapped. There should be regular inspection of walls and other structures which may have been affected by the intensity of the floods and water.
Fires in Ventura County
Fire disaster is perhaps one of the disasters that can never be predicted. It is impossible to know when there would be a power fault or there would be an explosion after there is a problem in the cooking area. According to Pazzaglia (45), anybody should be wary of occurrences of fire because they can consume what cannot be measured.
However, there are some measures that should be taken to prevent fire occurrences and reduce the aftermath of a fire outbreak. Fire is a real disaster and can cause damage which includes loss of human lives. For example, if a fire engulfs a big building, it is possible that may people can be trapped inside.
Prior planning is one of the most important ways which can be used to manage fire (Keeley 23). It is required that all buildings should be fitted with fire fighting equipments. Ventura County has had a share of fires which have hit and which can be regarded as major disasters.
Guiberson Fire- 22nd September 2009
This fire is said to have been fueled by low humidity, high temperatures and strong wind. It covered approximately 1500 acres of the hills between Moorpark and Fillmore in the eastern part of Ventura County. The fire injured two of the fire fighters and it is regarded as one of the fierce fires that consumed a lot.
The firefighters were injured after inhalation of strong smoke that was emanating from the source near Guiberson road. People had to be moved quickly from their homes because the fire threatened to cover a large area. This meant that people could not save a lot and were forced to forego their properties and allow firefighters to do their work.
There were some animals that were affected as well. This is because the fire covered even some open fields where there were some animals grazing. Others were in confined areas like in zero grazing. However, it is recognized that the local authority and federal agencies responded quickly to the distress call even though there was little success.
Santa Barbara Fire- 8th May 2009
The intensity of this fire was strong. It has been documented as one of the most destructive fires that have ever occurred in Southern California which nearly defeated the firefighters in Ventura County. The strength of this fire was mainly fuelled by strong blowing winds across the region.
As a result, firefighters were extremely overwhelmed and at some point, they had to retreat for the sake of their own safety. The fire is estimated to have consumed a total of 3500 acres and lasted four days before it could be put off.
More than 30000 thousands were affected and had to free from their homes to seek asylum in other areas. At the start, the firefighters were concentrating on putting off the fire from the base. However, as the fire continued to spread due to the fierce wind that was blowing it across, they started to concentrate not only on the safety of the residents, but also their own safety.
Firefighters were however ready to go to the extra lengths the fire had gone, and even with a 50 mph speed of wind present, they managed to put it off after four days.
Managing fire disasters
Before fire disaster strikes, it is crucial for people to understand the dynamics of fire disasters and learn some techniques of fighting the same. For wildfires, there are some precautions that should always be taken. For example, it is not right to throw away a glowing cigarette on dry vegetation. All buildings should be fitted with gadgets that can be used to put off fire.
However, the main concern is on wildfires which often engulf and consume mass surfaces of vegetation leading to loss of both fauna and flora. As a precautionary measure, dry vegetation that is adjacent to buildings should be removed. In other words, there should be no dead trunks and leaves around since they can catch fire emanating from the building.
There should always be some evacuation plans incase a building catches fires. Even in forest, there should be some techniques which should be used. For example, in case a forest catches fire, nearby people should run away from the source and direction of the fire.
During the disaster, affected parts should be covered with wet clothing and where there is some water or a river, a person should be dipped inside. In the event of fire, the first thing should be to alert the local authorities while at the same time use some of local methods to put off the fire before it spreads.
It is always important to start putting off the fire at the source or where it has started. There should be a buffer zone or an area condoned off if the fire strikes especially in open fields, and in buildings, the first thing is to evacuate people and not the properties.
After the disaster, it is always important to be cautious of any traces of fire that may have been left. In particular, the roof should be extinguished completely since it can reignite if not well extinguished.
Areas with smoke should be counter-checked to make sure that there are no possibilities of the fire restarting. In case there was a victim who is still conscious or not badly affected, he or she should be given enough air to breath since his or her lungs could have been stuffed with smoke.
Quite often, disasters strike when they are least expected. In such cases, the nature of damage can be enormous. However, early warning signs can be used to predict disasters long before they occur. Such disasters include earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.
Therefore, it is necessary for relevant government agencies to educate members of the public on disaster preparedness and management. The case study of Ventura County is a vivid example on how natural calamities can recur leading to massive loss of property and life. Needless to say, there are lessons that can be learnt from these disasters especially on disaster preparedness.
Erickson, Jon. Environmental geology: Facing the challenge of our changing earth. New York: Environmental Geology, 2002. Print.
Hudson, Travis. Living with earth: An introduction to environmental geology. New York: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.
Keeley, Jon. Ecological foundations for fire management in North American forest and shrub land ecosystem. Washington, D.C: DIANE Publishing, 2011. Print.
Kusky, Timothy. Encyclopedia of earth and space science. New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2010. Print.
Pazzaglia, Frank. Excursions in geology and history: Field trips in the Middle Atlantic States. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2006. Print.