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The circumstances of various natural disasters can have extremely dangerous consequences for the population, and timely responses are significant factors in protecting against potential danger and minimizing casualties. In order to analyze a specific situation where risk communication was a necessary interaction mechanism, the case of 2016 will be described, in particular, Hurricane Matthew. This natural disaster has become part of the modern history of Haiti and brought much destruction. This work is aimed at identifying the damage caused by the hurricane and analyzing the types of communication that were used during the natural cataclysm.
The severity of the Incident and Statistics
Initially, Hurricane Matthew posed a threat to Haiti since this island state was located on dangerous territory, and any natural disasters invariably caused significant damage. This country suffered significantly because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), category 5 was assigned to this hurricane after its identification, and more than 2 million people were affected (para. 1). Based on the official data, the disaster also reached the mainland, and despite fewer casualties in the United States, significant damage was also caused. After the cataclysm, more attention was paid to the timely notification of evacuation to the public, and risk communication as the significant aspect of protection became one of the factors of public health practice.
Types of Communication and Their Aid
In order to give examples of risk communication during Hurricane Matthew, it is necessary to mention what interaction during any disaster means. According to Spialek, Houston, and Worley (2019), such communication implies “sending and receiving messages that both facilitate and constitute disaster coping efforts” (p. 1). In other words, any measures aimed at countering disasters and rescuing both the population and property from a particular cataclysm are called risk communication.
One of the types of risk communication that was used during Hurricane Matthew was storytelling. As Spialek et al. (2019) note, this practice consisted in the timely notification of the population and the exchange of information among people in order to take measures for self-evacuation and the salvation of personal property. One of the advantages of this interaction mechanism was the rapid dissemination of information about the upcoming catastrophe.
Another important type of communication during Hurricane Matthew was social support. Spialek et al. (2019) remark that helping those categories of the population who were not able to respond to warnings about the impending catastrophe, for instance, older adults, helped minimize the number of victims. Despite significant damage to Haiti and the whole country’s infrastructure, timely support became the essential aspect of helping people, and responding to appropriate warnings saved the lives of many citizens. Therefore, risk communication is a valuable practice during natural disasters and can help prevent or mitigate the impact of large-scale catastrophes.
The damage caused by Hurricane Matthew was significant for both Haiti and the mainland of North America. The types of risk communication that were maintained at that time helped to minimize the number of casualties and damage to the personal property of citizens. In accordance with the statistics presented, Haiti’s infrastructure suffered enormous damage, and the consequences of the disaster were crucial. Storytelling and social support became those interaction mechanisms that contributed to reducing the danger of the hurricane and helped many people evacuate their loved ones and property timely.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). 2016 Hurricane Matthew – CDC international response. Web.
Spialek, M. L., Houston, J. B., & Worley, K. C. (2019). Disaster communication, posttraumatic stress, and posttraumatic growth following Hurricane Matthew. Journal of Health Communication, 24(1), 1-10. Web.