Disaster Recovery after Seismic activity along the San Andreas Fault line in the West Coast of the United States.
Disaster Recovery Planning for Seismic Impact Areas along the San Andreas Fault
Owing to the prevalence of forest fires, hurricanes, dust storms, floods, and above all, earthquakes, it is clear that natural disasters are inevitable. In the recent years, the frequency, as well as the intensity of these natural disasters has been on the rise, and scholars, environmentalists, scientists, and researchers are increasingly associating the disasters with climate change. A society’s or community’s resilience to the impacts of these natural hazards depends chiefly on the effectiveness and adequacy of its proposed disaster recovery plan. Disastrous tremors have been a significant threat to the inhabitants along the San Andreas Fault. The continuous occurrence of these events has attracted the attention of emergency managers to outline a deliberate plan for preventing, responding to, and recovering from earthquake disasters in the area (Smith, Sandwell & Shearer, 2011).
Whenever there is an occurrence of an earthquake, the first things that the local government should consider include security, food, water, sanitation, public health assistance, and reconstructing destroyed social amenities all while synchronizing efforts with the state as well as federal governments. Apparently, the disaster recovery procedures for cities and villages along the vulnerable areas are often hazy due to ineffective social-political and socio-economic policies. Ostensibly, the people living in this region have attempted to prepare budgets and protocols before the occurrence of hazards, but, the budgets, projects, and mitigation procedures are often provided to the elite class in the society. Similarly, there are fewer measures for the elderly, as they are limited with mobility. In line with these challenges, this research will analyze the various disaster response plans that should be implemented, and those that should be amended to guarantee effective recovery plans for the effects of earthquakes along the region of the San Andreas Fault.
The San Andreas Fault is a long continental transformation fault, roughly 1200 kilometers stretching from the North American Plate to the Pacific Plate. The fault is divided into three segments with each exhibiting different physical characteristics such as the magnitude and effects of a tremor. Governmental institutions such as FEMA, Region IX and other non-governmental institutions, such as American Red Cross have continuously coordinated with the local and national governments to address this issue and implement a response, as well as recovery plan in case of an earthquake along the defined region (Liu, Scheepbouwer, & Giovinazzi, 2016). Despite significant efforts being proposed to inform and educate entire community, certain political, economic regulatory issues have hindered adequate disaster recovery. In broader prospects all the set objectives are not fairly applied to all the potentially affected demographics.
Challenges of Disaster Management along the San Andreas Fault
Despite living in the 21st century whereby many governments have invested heavily in protecting their citizens, many individuals from different cultures and nations are still susceptible to the cost of rigorous environmental disasters. Nonetheless, scholars have justified that the negative impact of hazards such as earthquakes, diseases, epidemics, food shortage, flood, or tornados are not only felt by the populace residing in the areas but also by other populations elsewhere (Smith, Sandwell & Shearer, 2011). The ability for some people, especially in undeveloped nations, to fruitfully adapt to the events repeatedly being featured on all media platforms is predominantly determined by the approach that people use to voice their needs and views to their respective governments. Nevertheless, their claims are relatively assumed by the authorities.
Economic, political and social aspects are mainly what determines how individuals model their lives. In this perspective, the prevalence of natural disasters is a result of political, economic, and social processes with exclusion and marginalization playing a central role within the defined region (Noriega & Ludwig, 2012). To effectively analyze the causes of hazard, one ought to visualize beyond the common environmental triggers of the disaster instead resonate with the socio-political system that occurs domestically and internationally, which creates people’s susceptibility to hazards. Such a case could effectively be seen in the regions along the risky area.
Socio-economic and Socio-political Factors
The distribution of wealth along the San Andreas Fault is rather biased in the sense that the less fortunate families are left to fend for themselves in case of a disaster while the privileged class is protected before the occurrence of the disaster (Noriega & Ludwig, 2012). In this region, many families from humble backgrounds are either forced to inhabit areas that are extremely vulnerable to disaster or accept a risky occupation with no health insurance to bolster family incomes.
By understanding how agency and power may determine the state of a society struck by a natural disaster, it then becomes easier to acquire deeper sense of admiration for the socio-political and socio-economic causes of people along the San Andreas Fault to disaster (Noriega & Ludwig, 2012). Colonialism, in this region, is among the best examples of the stated processes. The establishment of this institution has affected both precedent political policies, current principles and discriminations inherent to the community. Susceptibility is, therefore, centuries in making. Scholars have proved that colonialism generates vivid historical effects that constraint different societies’ aptitude for economic stability, for the less fortunate and marginalized demographic to prosper under the current environmental disasters.
The tremors that occurred along the San Andreas Fault during the 19th and 20th century is one indication of this insight. During these times, post-colonial practices of the people’s exclusion and maltreatment forced the vulnerable populations into abject poverty. Extreme discrimination, combined with stigmatization against the poor people lasted for many years after the disaster, and has caused many of the affected families to settle into shanty regions along the eroded, dangerous terrain (Greer, 2012). In most cases, these regions have suffered more from the effects of earthquakes. What’s more, the government has done so little to ensure that these individuals are not affected again by the disaster. By shying from funding cheaper housing projects for the poor people, it is evident that the U.S. government has been abandoning its people. Such histories are an indication of why tragedy analysis must recognize how susceptibility is prearranged through an individual’s ordinary daily life. Methodical interactions between economic, political, environmental, social, as well as institutional policies play a vital role in defining the allocations and the distribution of available resources across the entire community through a varied link of geographic and temporal spheres.
In connection to the above, the political ecology revolving around land rights and notions of property ownership is relatively critical to conceptualizing the susceptibility of the people living along the San Andreas Fault to disasters. In most rural and urban areas around the world, land is the main source of all forms of production and is used to bring income to many families (Liu et al., 2020). However, many governments that aspire to industrialize economic output tend to redefine accessibility rights and patterns of land distribution, plummeting the security of these societies.
Such is the case for a majority of the population currently residing along the San Andreas Fault whereby current government developmental programs have been protested considering the widespread displacement of the San Andreas Fault farmers. In these cases, the ability of the villages in the region to access land together with water sources, which have been inherited and protected by the families for generations, is being constrained by the government without efficient compensation. For the past years, the U.S. government has orchestrated these land grabs to introduce State Water projects, which previously promised to introduce a huge economic growth to the people in the area through employment, industrialization, as well as foreign investment. Though the project has actually boosted the nation’s GDP growth sustainability, it is detested among peasants living in the rural areas.
Economic Development in the region has significantly affected the previous land tenure system used by the community. This has led to food insecurity surrounding the people along the San Andreas Fault by preventing the populace from conducting agricultural practices (Liu et al., 2020). One of the outcomes of this process has been the undue increase in population’s susceptibility to hazards such as diseases and drought. The usurpation of communal farmlands has reversed previous concepts of land access as well as entitlement, strictly limiting the people’s ability to carry out any form of agricultural practice. With this, thousands of villages across the region are left susceptible to natural hazards, while the state’s violent onslaught, following the peaceful protests has established as distressing civil unrest. Many individuals who previously resided along the San Andreas Fault have fled to the neighboring states and countries for refuge.
Another challenge that is limiting the government from reducing the risks of disaster along the San Andreas Fault to its inhabitants is the lack of consideration for the elderly population. None could refute the efforts that the previous and the current governments have made towards mitigating the effects of disaster along this region. The only setback is that the government has not considered is protecting the elderly generation from imminent dangers of natural hazards (Fuis et al., 2017). Naturally, the old generation has difficulties with mobility during catastrophic events and this mostly leads to the demise of the baby boomers. Without putting measures that control the movement of the elderly during a disaster such as setting safe-houses and effective evacuation measures, these individuals will certainly be affected.
The cases stated above indicate how the patterns of resource allocation in the described community, are key to understanding an individual’s vulnerability to an environmental hazard. These trends are a clear description of the governing perceptions which determine the type of mediation between the societies affected as well as the government. The method which the local government chooses to distribute resource to the defined region indicate whom, what, where, when, and how goods, as well as services, are allocated (Scharer & Streig, 2019). Individuals who are affected more by natural disasters will experience less risk and susceptibility to hazard when more of the community’s resources are easily accessible. In this perspective, economic and political power interacts with cultural traditions and social customs, of different individuals or groups at a given time. People who are from a low-income bracket, and those who are marginalized based on their identity, or who are viewed with downbeat social biases, face constrained access to capital and resources. Such status restricts their ability to survive when there is a sudden outbreak of disastrous earthquakes. This is mostly seen among communities with little economic or political influence on society. In a broader perspective, these individuals wield insufficient power to demand, let alone to request, assistance when needed. This form of divergence in the different social classes, existing along the San Andreas Fault, to access material resources and social goods hinders the opportunities that could be capitalized to enhance their livelihoods, and thus reduces the capability of dealing with natural disasters.
- Remote Sensors
Several geophysical events, especially earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions have significantly threatened the lives of people and caused damage to property. Such has been the case of residents living along the San Andreas Fault. The first approach the government should consider to prepare for an oncoming disaster and develop strategic recovery plans is installing modern remote sensors that are capable of acquiring information about the earth’s movements and predict future events (Murray & Langbein, 2006). The current model of remote sensors provides new prospects for real-time analysis as well as management of risk disaster. For instance, by providing continuous, cost-effective, detailed, reliable, and synoptic coverage of the anthropogenic and natural phenomena, remotes sensing technology is capable of responding to vital disaster and emergency management queries, such as how do weather patterns affect climate change and variability? How do human pressures affect disaster risk? When do people have to respond to a threatening environmental disaster? What’s more, advances in hardware/software integration to real-time data acquisition have been intensely utilized to enhance the controlled emergency and monitoring vehicles with installed sensors.
The remote sensors are effective in all the stages of disaster prevention. During the stage of disaster prevention, remote sensors are used in controlling significant amount of data necessary for susceptibility as well as hazard assessment. As for the disaster preparedness phase, this tool is useful for designing centers for emergency preparedness, setting up evacuation routes, and combining data obtained from the satellite with other appropriate data before triggering the warning systems. In line with the disaster relief stage, remote sensors together with GPS systems are used to facilitate search and rescue operations in regions that have been affected mostly and where it is difficult to locate someone’s bearing (Wein, Johnson & Bernknopf, 2011). Remote sensors are also used in the disaster rehabilitation stage in organizing the damage data and the post-disaster census data, as well as evaluating sites for reconstruction. It is imperative for governments that have regions that experience natural disasters, for example, those along the San Andreas Fault to install these remote sensors (Murray & Langbein, 2006). The natural hazard information collected will be used to plan and invest in preparation projects. Moreover, the local and national governments, in conjunction with non-governmental organizations that deal with disaster management should invest in cost-effective analysis measures and estimate the losses that will likely occur in case these measures are not implemented.
Another method of utilizing technology to acquire information regarding the effects of a disaster is by using the ShakeCast application. ShakeCast is a post-earthquake state awareness application that is available for free. The application remotely retrieves data regarding the intensity of an earthquake from ShakeMaps, compares its intensity, and sends notifications to the user regarding the potential damage (Wald, Lin, Porter & Turner, 2008). Further, it facilitates the complex evaluation process of the possible damage to the user’s surroundings by contrasting the potentially high vulnerable damageability with the complex shaking distribution of the inventory and providing a straightforward hierarchical list as well as maps of facilities or structures most likely affected.
- Disaster Legislation
Another method of ascertaining disaster management is institutionalizing a law that explains the response plan to a defined environmental hazard. In the U.S., two vital policies have been implemented to define the response system to earthquakes. The first is known as the Federal Response Plan (FRP), formed in 1992 that was taken by the National Response Plan (NRP), formed in 2004, and then to the National Response Framework (NRF), formed in 2008. The second policy is the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The introduction of the FRP was necessitated by the need to standardize the government’s response to the disaster and how it could increase its effectiveness (Greer, 2012). The initial plan was to aid the government to effectively respond to hazardous earthquakes. Respectively, the proposed methods were also considered to apply to other forms of natural disasters. The FRP incorporates 27 federal agencies together with the American Red Cross to facilitate the response process. The emergency support functions (ESF) have some tasks that are necessary during the occurrence of a disaster. The policy assigns the responsibilities to different federal agencies. It also assigns a task for preparedness, as well as resilience-building of definite critical lifelines as well services, for example, firefighting and medical services.
With the NRP, both the locals and the national government are obliged to cooperate to ensure that natural disasters could be effectively managed. In line with NRP, all emergencies as well as hazards are to be managed at the lowest level in the government. The federal government will only step in if the either the local and the state governments are overwhelmed, the event requires the attention of more agencies, a federal agency calls for the aid of the Department of Homeland Security, or when the President federalizes an emergency reaction (Greer, 2012). To aid in amalgamating state and localities, the DHS introduces NIMS which requires input from state and local officials, as well as the Homeland Security Presidential Directive. The main objective for NIMS is to provide a common ground whereby emergency response teams can work and coordinate effectively.
All the same, studies have proved that it is relatively challenging to get multiple agencies that will effectively work together, but NIMS has been able to overcome this milestone by defining the role of each party (Greer, 2012). The process has been linked to the level of hierarchy whereby every party has to play a role but the first respondents should be the local government. In case the situation worsens, the representatives of the local government ask for aid from higher agencies but they all have to work together to ensure proper management of a defined disaster.
The introduction of the NPG was primarily initiated to define an all-inclusive process of disaster management. This has been well featured in its four guidelines: Target Capabilities List (TCL), Universal Task List (UTL), National Planning Scenarios, and National Preparedness Vision. The TCL encompasses 37 definite capabilities that every level of the government is responsible for when responding to a disaster (Greer, 2012). The TCL proposes that preparedness process is a shared responsibility between the citizen and the government. The UCL describes 1,600 exceptional tasks that should be implemented to enhance response to, avoidance of, and recuperation from disaster. The National Planning Scenarios stipulates a list of procedures that explain how every level of the government is required to prepare and respond to emergencies. Lastly, the National Preparedness Vision sets a preparation program together with coordinated capabilities respond to protect against, recover from and prevent all forms of natural disasters in a way that stabilizes the associated risks with the need and resources.
Establishment of Fair Response Strategies
Critics have attested that despite the implementation of disaster planning strategies, the government has been unfair in terms of utilizing the proposed measures to certain demographics (Noriega & Ludwig, 2012). For instance, areas along the San Andrea Fault line that are dominated by the less fortunate class are hardly considered in the mitigation budget. Even worse, these types of responses do not consider the elderly who have challenges with mobility. With this, the government should enforce rules that cut across all demographics to promote justice.
In conclusion, the occurrence of natural calamities, especially earthquakes, landslides, as well as volcanic eruptions have significantly threatened the lives of people and caused damage to property. Despite initiative methods that would lessen the occurrence of these hazards, particularly along the San Andrea Fault line, the prevalence of the disasters continues to wreak havoc in the region. Some of the factors that have contributed to the sluggish response strategies are propelled by social-political and social-economic differences. All the same, the government could control these issues by formulating disaster response laws, establishment fair response strategies, and purchasing modern remote sensors.
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