Table of Contents Table of Contents 1 Introduction: 2 Impact to human life: 3 Impact to Non-human life: 4 Impact to the Environment: 7 Impact to the Economy: 8 American Red Cross Assistance: 9 Conclusion: 13 Bibliography: 14 Introduction: A massive Tsunami (Japanese for "Harbor wave") had hit southern Asia the day after Christmas 2004. The cause of the Tsunami was an offshore earthquake that results in the tectonic plates being displaced and the creation of a vertical shift in the ocean floor. This vertical shift lead to a large volume of water being uplifted and turned to create a huge wave that traveled up to 300 miles per hour, gradually slowing as it reached the shore. At that time, people in the coastal areas were not aware of the terror that they were about to endure. They received no warnings of the tsunami. Unfortunately, 10 meters of the wave caught many people by surprise, as they looked dumfound ed when the ocean engulfed them whole.
To date this disaster is believed to have killed over three hundred thousand people, marking itself as one of the most devastating Tsunamis ever. The waves from the Tsunami destroyed everything in their path and drowned most innocent living things with it. It has now been concluded that the earthquake, which caused this Tsunami, was probably twice as strong as originally estimated - a magnitude 9. 15 instead of 9. 0. Much of the slippage along the fault is believed to have taken place as much as a half an hour after the initial quake and continued up to three hours afterward.
Additionally, it is feared that earthquake could continue to affect the region for many years and could trigger more large quakes (Eric P H Yap, 2005). It is believe that some areas were harder hit, by the Tsunami's strength, than others due to coastal commercial development. The development of coastal areas damages or totally destroys much of the surrounding coral reefs. Certain areas, such as in the Maldives, still have a network of coral reefs and intact mangroves that may have protected the island from the open sea.
'Poorly planned coastal development has compounded the impact of the tsunami,' said Mubariq Ahmad, Head of WWF Indonesia. 'It is vital that we don't make the mistakes of the past. We need to rebuild in a sustainable and safe way (Le Tourneau Gore, 2005)." Impact to human life: The areas of South Asia that were hardest hit consist mainly of poor countries. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand were the most affected areas in this terrible disaster.
These countries had neither the proper disaster warning systems nor any type of acceptable emergency shelters. Additionally, they did not have an ample number of hospitals, medicines, supplies of food and enough shelters to care for the survivors of the tsunami. Therefore the wounded died suffering infections, hunger and depression and left thousands possibly missing. The tsunami washed parts of countries away leaving the inhabitants in total devastation. Though, the worst is yet to come. It has been found that people are now drinking from tainted water supplies, since the fact that many resources or cargoes were unable to reach the people in a timely manner.
The need for clean water is pressing. Health officials say that cases of diarrhea illness were reported across the areas of South Asia. The World Health Organization predicated that about five million survivors of the calamity are at the risk of getting infections from the disease (Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, 2005). Volunteers attempting to treat the survivors are still struggling to provide the necessary help across all the nations affected. In addition to the diarrhea illnesses, there are major concerns about other illnesses such as cholera and typhoid. People can become infected very easily with the consumption of tainted food and water.
Once infected, the individual can suffer form diarrhea, dehydration, and eventually death. Other illnesses such as respiratory malfunction including pneumonia are prone to occur among adolescents as well as seniors. In the mean time, medical relief agencies distributed some water purification tablets that sanitize the seawater. Already, the World Health Organization is sending engineers to fix the sewage and contaminated wells. Others are attempting to educate the people about the need for proper hygiene. With the amazing assistance from around the globe, those who survived have a great chance of surviving this catastrophe.
The unforgiving tsunami that stretched across numerous Asian countries not only destroyed the human life in its path, but additionally has left its mark on the environment as well. The saltwater that has flooded thousands of the countries' farms has contaminated the soil to the point that is totally useless for the production of crops. Authorities warn that rice paddies, fruit plantations, and other farms may take 10 years to be productive again (Michael VanRooyen, Jennifer Leaning, 2005). International aid agencies have, for the past 20 years, been digging wells throughout these countries in an effort to stop the spread of diseases, such as cholera, that are transmitted by contaminated water.
These wells are now flooded with salt water rendering them totally useless for human consumption. Experts estimate that it may take as long as two to three years to flush these wells thoroughly enough to produce safe drinking water (Anonymous, 2005). Impact to Non-human life: The impact of the December tsunamis in South Asia on animals, marine life, and their ecosystems was tremendous as well. Coastal ecosystems (coral reefs, mangroves, sea grasses, and estuarine mudflats) took significant damage to their structure and function which affects to the habitat in which marine animals and even land animals live. The force of the wave itself has most likely damaged physical structures, as indicated by early assessments of the tsunami (web). These habitats will take several months to several years to recover from the damage (web).
Chemical changes have included saltwater intrusion, eutrophication of the water resulting from increased runoff, raw sewage, and decomposition of animal and plant life including un-recovered bodies. Leftover timber from buildings, mangroves, and fishing boats that have washed into the ocean will also produce chemical change in the water. Additionally, numerous non-biodegradable wastes, such as plastics that have been dragged in and out of the water, have added to the marine debris (web). Sea life was as well destroyed by the tsunamis. Many fish and sea mammals including dolphins and sharks were washed up on land and displaced from their habitat whether it being on land or to another part of the sea. Many species use the coral reef off the coast of the Indian Ocean to survive every day and it is now uprooted and destroyed.
Mangroves, which protect the shore from erosion and serve as nurseries for young fish have also been uprooted. Although little research has been done on the impact of tsunamis on the reefs, experts in marine ecology find it hard to believe that anything could be still be intact after the force of wind and water that the December tsunami brought. Experts also believe that the coral reefs in the Indian Ocean were just recovering from the damage caused by the changing water temperatures brought by El Nino several years ago. This recent turn of events will now push the recovery process to decades, or maybe centuries depending on the volume of damage (animal.
discovery. com). The most obvious marine casualties, of the tsunami waves, were washed up in their wake. In Thailand, for instance, dolphins were swept 500 yards (500 meters) inland. Many dead and injured sea turtles were left high and dry, and a three-foot (one-meter) shark ended up in a hotel swimming pool.
Beaches were littered with dead fish as well as human bodies. And while there are fears for some marine species-such as threatened dugongs and saltwater crocodiles in the Andaman Islands-scientists are most concerned about the habitats these animals depend on, as mentioned earlier (news. national geographic. com). Wildlife on land had a bit more luck when it came to surviving the tsunamis due to much more acute sensory abilities than humans have.
Ravi Corea, the president and founder of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society reported that as early as the morning of December 26 that elephants were seen running away from the shore up the hills of Sri Lanka and Thailand. Unless many were washed into the ocean, two weeks after the tsunami hit Corea also stated that, "there were still no reports of dead carcasses of any animals you would expect such as elephant, deer, leopards, cows, or goats (fox news. com)." Some call it a sixth sense but experts in animal behavior such as Herve Fritz, a research in animal behavior at France's National Center for Scientific Research says that, "In anything to do with vibrations, seismic shocks or sound waves, animals have capabilities which we do not." Animal experts also believe that four-footed creatures are able to sense early danger through the soil or an airborne noise produced by the advancing tsunami that is inaudible to humans (animal. discovery. com).
On the other side of the coin, animal activists societies have reported stories of dogs being left behind starving after their owners were washed away and now wandering into morgues and eating dead human corpses to survive. Cows, goats, ponies, and dogs now have no clean water to use so they are now being contaminated with all sorts of bacteria including causing deaths indirectly from the tsunami. Animal refugee camps have been setup to take in surviving animals in need of care and mobile veterinary clinics are already operational in the region. In Sri Lanka, hundreds of dogs, including those in refugee camps, have already been vaccinated against diseases that can spread in the aftermath of disasters (web). So while wildlife has been more indirectly affected by the Dec.
26 tsunami, it seems that so far, marine life has been directly and more long-term affected. Impact to the Environment: In the wake of the tsunami, numerous environmental issues were identified. Among these issues were salinization and contamination of soil and ground water, destruction of mangrove and other forests, and stripping of soil. One of the things that were discovered was that intact ecosystems helped mitigate the damage of the tsunami. Healthy mangrove forests, sea grass beds, and coral reefs absorbed the blow of the wave and protected the environment (and people) from worse damage. Sea grass beds protected coastlines from erosion.
Mangrove forests filter sediments before they get to coral reefs. Mangrove forests also protected coastlines as well as human and animal habitation by preventing serious damage from the wave (Rinne, 2005). On the coast of India, Pichavaram and Muthupet, which have their mangrove forests mostly intact, suffered less damage than the surrounding coastline (MOHAMMED MESBAHI, 2005). Malaysia and Sri Lanka made similar observations but it was also observed that where mangrove forests were small (no more than a thin strips along the coast) that the trees were uprooted and swept inland to cause more damage. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization suggested that mangrove forests be restored to help protect against future disasters. This would include replanting damaged forests as well as protecting the existing ones from logging in the wake of the disaster and from the sediment and salt washed into the forests that could threaten the trees (M 2 Presswire, 2005).
The salt may prove to be too much for the mangroves and other opportunistic species that can better handle the salt could move in and destroy the ecosystem (Rinne, 2005). The need to rebuild poses a problem. The demand for wood has increased to help in rebuilding and it poses a threat to mangrove and other forests that are already in danger because of previous logging and damage from the tsunami (Bellman, 2005). Impact to the Economy: Some people have been complaining of the media's coverage of the economic turmoil caused by this disaster, suggesting that it is insensitive to the loss of human life and suffering.
"First and foremost, this is a human tragedy" is what one economist was quoted as saying after being bashed in regards to reporting on the economic losses caused by the tsunami (Blakely, 2004). Whether or not people wish acknowledge it, money plays a huge part in human loss and suffering. The 20-foot waves didn't just dissolve lives, but also homes and small businesses built upon life savings and retirement funds. Fishing boats and public transportation, paychecks and livelihoods, vanished in a matter of minutes. The waves destroyed life the way people knew and understood it. Well developed, civilized area were diminished to disease infect ruins.
Let's take the Maldives for example. Although the tsunami's affects impacted parts or regions of several countries, none received the impact as did the Maldives. This was the only county that appears to have been hit from one end to the other. It is expected that the economic devastation to the Maldives is going to total far higher than that in most of the other countries with estimates in the billions of US dollars. Why the economic impact is expected to be so great is do to the fact that the country relies mainly on tourism for its prosperity.
"The Maldives was the only country where the effects were felt across the country, rather than in certain parts or regions. In our case, the whole country has come to a near standstill. Being heavily dependent on tourism, and with 19 resorts having to suspend operations for many months to carry out renovation works as a result of the tsunami, the Government is extremely concerned about the medium to long term effects as much as the devastation left by the tsunami across the archipelago. Nine resorts had to be evacuated. 46 of the 87 resorts have suffered damage", said Dr. Shaheed.
(Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, 2005) Ironically, this comes as a huge blow to the people of the Maldives as just the prior week the United Nations had removed them from the list of least-developed countries. This move was due to the remarkable socio-economic development they have achieved over the past twenty-five years (Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, 2005).
Sadly, all of this progress was washed away in a matter of minutes, by the tsunami's wrath. American Red Cross Assistance: More than 840, 000 people were assisted by the American Red Cross during the tsunami relief effort. The way that this assistance was given out was by distributing culturally appropriate food like rice and canned fish to hundreds of thousands of people. Along with rehabilitating water and sanitation systems so that people have clean water and waste disposal systems. In the near future, the American Red Cross will partner with health organizations to work in the area of disease prevention, vaccinating and protecting millions against diseases like measles and polio, while also helping provide mental health support for those suffering emotional trauma.
One of the organizations that the American Red Cross partnered with was the World Food Program, a United Nations agency, to help provide $50 million dollars to help deliver and distribute emergency food rations for 2 million people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Maldives for six months. (American Red Cross - web) Malnutrition was already a huge problem in some areas due to poverty. The tsunami made the situation worse further limiting access to food and increasing the risk of malnutrition. The American Red Cross and World Food Program will try decrease the malnutrition rate to prevent the loss of additional lives. The salt water from the tsunami contaminated water supplies in the surrounding area. The American Red Cross sent water sanitation experts to help assess the water-related needs.
The American Red Cross has some of most skilled water and sanitation specialists. They are trained to set up systems that provide mass numbers of disaster victims with safe drinking water, for the purposes of hygiene and the safe disposal of waste. By doing this they help prevent people from using unsafe contaminated water sources, this can cause diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera all things that could be deadly to small children. (American Red Cross - web) With the total destruction of homes due to the tsunami, survivors were left without the bare essentials needed for daily life including a place to live. The American Red Cross started distributing basic supplies like family tents, water containers, sleeping mats, blankets and bed sheets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, cooking sets, lanterns, kerosene stoves, ropes, clothing, family hygiene kits and baby hygiene kits.
More than 300, 000 families will benefit from American Red Cross relief supplies. This will help to establish temporary households for tsunami affected families. The American Red Cross is providing assistance on two levels at home by purchasing and transporting relief items to the affected countries and on the ground in the affected countries by helping Red Cross partners distribute items directly to families affected by the tsunami. (American Red Cross - web) The American Red Cross is also committing $35 million to the United Nations Foundation to support vaccinations for children in tsunami-affected areas through the Measles Initiative. The Measles Initiative is where they are going to give measles vaccinations and Vitamin A drops to all the children displaced by the disaster aged nine months to 15 years old. The Partners in the Measles Initiative include the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation).
Together they are going to help stop infectious disease. (American Red Cross - web) To help counter the fear and destruction left behind by the tsunami, the American Red Cross developed a psychosocial support team. The team was led by Dr. Joseph Prewitt Diaz. The team was focused on training volunteers from the psychosocial support unit and teachers to reach the most vulnerable of the tsunami affected islands. In the critical early weeks following the tsunami, American Red Cross-trained volunteers in psychological first aid.
These volunteers were available around the clock and a psychosocial support help line was established through the government's disaster management office. To date, the psychosocial support programs have conducted 16 teacher training sessions, which reached at least one teacher on every one of the 200 inhabited islands. The American Red Cross also distributed several school chests and teacher recreational kits for the psychosocial programs. These types of things helped the teachers and children to return to a sense of normalcy following the tsunami. "The American Red Cross programs help children recognize and enhance resilience through creative and expressive activities," explained Dr.
Prewitt-Diaz. (American Red Cross - web) The American Red Cross has setup several programs in the displaced persons camps and at the schools on the islands. To help children deal and share their fears and hopes for the future. "Activities like asking children to blow their fears away by blowing bubbles out to the sea bring smiles and help these children to move on," said Suj ata Bordoloi, a member of the American Red Cross psychosocial team. An American Red Cross psychosocial training center is planned for the tsunami relief.
So far, 321 teachers have been trained to listen to children, and carry out activities in the classroom as part of their curriculum that will help them to express their feelings about the event. Fifty seven volunteers from the psychosocial support unit were trained in Psychological First Aid. (American Red Cross - web) The American Red Cross promises to use each donation dollar in the most efficient and effective manner as possible. Reputable charity "watchdogs" such as web and the American Institute of Philanthropy recognize the commitment of the Red Cross and responded with high marks for the organization in recent ratings. One hundred percent of every donation made for this disaster goes to tsunami relief and recovery efforts.
In order to provide this timely relief, the Red Cross incurs direct support costs, which range from 6 to 8 percent of the total relief costs. These are costs that the American Red Cross would not incur in an everyday working environment and include the coordination of mobilizing relief workers and relief supplies. (American Red Cross - web) Conclusion: As you can see, the deadly force of the Asian Tsunami of 2004 has had (and will for some time to come) severe negative affects on numerous aspects of "life." Many people tend to focus on just the immediate impacts such as the loss of human life, totally ignoring the multitude of other issues. When all impacts are considered, cumulatively, this disaster is actually more tremendous than one would first realize. Bibliography: Anonymous. 'Environment.' Washington March 2005: pg.
4. Le Tourneau Gore, Melanie. 'GREEN RECONSTRUCTION VITAL IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE TSUNAMI.' Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Vol. 11. Issue 2 (2005): pg. 17.
Plianbangchang, Dr. Samlee. 'can still inundate millions of people in the region.' 11 Feb. 2005. World Health Organization. 24 May.
2005. VanRooyen, Michael. 'After the Tsunami - Facing the Public Health Challenges.' The New England Journal of Medicine Feb 2005: 435 - 438. Yap, Eric P H. 'South-Asian tsunami.' The Lancet Mar 2005: 933- 936. Shaheed, Dr.
Ahmed. 'Maldives: Tsunami Economic loss will be billions.' 01 Jan. 2005. 02 Jun.
2005. Blakely, Rhys. 'Insurers count tsunami's economic cost.' 29 Dec. 2004...
MOHAMMED MESBAHI of Share The World s Resource s (STAR). 'The tsunami and Brandt Report: [1 Edition]. ' Papua - New Guinea Post - Courier 7 February 2005. Pro Quest Newsstand. Pro Quest.' UN: Rehabilitation of severely affected mangroves would help speed recovery from tsunami, says food and agriculture organization. ' M 2 Presswire 20 January 2005.
Pro Quest Newsstand. Pro Quest. Rinne, Pasi et al. After the Tsunami: Rapid Environmental Assessment.
United Nations Environment Programme. 2005. Eric Bellman in Lake Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, and Timothy Mapes in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. 'Tsunami Aftermath: Scarred Earth: Will Nature Bounce Back? ; Salt Water and Debris Alter Ecosystems Threatening Fields, Reefs and Forests. ' Asian Wall Street Journal [New York, N. Y.
] 17 Jan. 2005, A. 5. Pro Quest Newsstand. Pro Quest.
Animal Planet News. Slow Recovery for Seal Life. 12 Jan. 2005. 30 May 2005. Animal Friends Croatia.
Tsunamis killed animals, too! 30 May 2005. Animal Planet News. Tsunamis Destroy Sea Life. 3 Jan. 2005.
Animal Planet News. Sri Lankan Wildlife Avoided the Tsunamis. 4 Jan 2005. 30 May 2005. Donaldson-Evans, Catherine. Tsunami Animals: A Sixth Sense? 9 Jan.
2005. 30 May 2005.