Natural disasters types and signs of distress that we could feel

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Each year, thousands of individuals are impacted by natural disasters and man made disasters. Such significant unfavorable occurrences have the potential to result in a catastrophic loss of life and physical devastation. They frequently come as a surprise and have the power to shock entire towns.

People who experience natural disasters may feel emotionally distressed. Anxiety before, during, and after disasters is a frequent response, as are persistent concerns, difficulties sleeping, and other symptoms of depression. With support from friends, family, and the community, many people can “bounce back” after disasters, but others may require additional assistance to cope and continue the path to recovery. Anyone, including survivors in the affected areas, first responders, and recovery personnel, might be in danger.

All forms of extreme weather, which have the potential to create a significant danger to property, vital infrastructure, and homeland security, are considered natural disasters. In addition, seasonal and unexpected natural disasters can cause disruption, economic loss, and insecurity in the country.

Levels of Natural disasters

Three criteria can be used to categorize the degree or severity of damage further:

  • Small-scale disasters: are defined as ones that cover between 50 and 100 kilometres. Therefore, these disasters generally only cause a little harm.
  • Disasters of a medium size range from 100 to 500 kilometres. These result in more significant harm than minor disasters. Additionally, they may result in more considerable damage if they occur in states.
  • Large-scale disasters: These disasters affect an area larger than a thousand kilometres. These harm the environment the most severely. In addition, if the severity is great enough, these disasters may overtake a whole nation. For instance, a significant natural calamity led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
natural disasters

Types of natural disasters

Winter storm

Winter storms happen when considerable snow or ice builds up quickly, obstructing roads, interfering with communications, knocking out electricity, and endangering life safety.


In the United States, 90% of all-natural disasters involve floods. Therefore, compared to other natural disasters, floods cause more economic harm and loss of life and property.

They take place whenever water overflows onto ordinarily dry ground. Floods are brought on by various things, such as hurricanes and tropical storms, collapsed dams or bridges, and flash floods that happen shortly after heavy rain.

Floods may happen everywhere and range in size and length; however, they are more likely to occur in coastal locations, especially during hurricane season. Even rivers, gullies, and streams that seem unimportant during dry weather can flood.

A flood’s physical destruction can vary; some might sweep away everything in their path, including buildings, bridges, automobiles, and even people trapped or swimming through the water. Furthermore, dangerous flood conditions might result in considerable economic losses.

During a flood, it’s typical for individuals to feel distressed emotionally. For example, people might suffer extreme anxiety or lose sleep only by thinking about what might be lost or damaged during a flood. 


More than a thousand tornadoes strike the United States every year, severely disrupting communications, electrical, gas, and transportation systems.

Strong thunderstorms that appear like whirling, funnel-shaped clouds give rise to tornadoes. They reach the ground from a thunderstorm with strong winds that blow at an average speed of 30 miles per hour. They can move at rates ranging from complete stillness to 70 miles per hour. In the United States, tornadoes are often 500 feet broad and proceed five miles on the ground with a thunderous boom that sounds like a freight train. The possibility of tornadoes and the powerful storms that might cause them exists in every state. Strong wind gusts, lightning strikes, and flash floods are also all consequences of these same devastating storms.

Tornadoes may strike swiftly with little to no notice, giving people in the affected areas barely enough time to seek cover. It’s common for people to endure mental anxiety since tornadoes and severe storms are unpredictable. Overwhelming anxiety, insomnia, and other symptoms of depression are frequent reactions to these natural disasters.

Distress signs can arise during hours, days, weeks, months, or even years following a tornado or severe storm. They can also show up before, during, and after a tornado.


Both coastal and interior areas of the United States can sustain natural disasters destruction as a result of hurricanes, which also expose the afflicted areas to powerful winds, copious rainfall, and severe floods.

Tropical storms of the hurricane kind develop in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the southern Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Each year, millions of residents who live along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are impacted by hurricanes. Tornadoes, floods, and strong winds are just a few examples of the natural disasters weather that storms may bring to some regions of the Southwest and the Pacific Coast.

It’s typical for individuals to feel distressed after a hurricane. Before, during, and after these kinds of storms, it’s not uncommon for people to experience feelings like crippling anxiety, unceasing concern, difficulties sleeping, and other depression-like symptoms.


Numerous devastating earthquakes strike the United States every year, and each can result in power outages, fires, water supply problems, and considerable loss of life and property.

Shifting the Earth’s plates causes an earthquake, which causes a quick shaking of the ground that can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Mild beginning shaking might quickly intensify and turn severe. Unpredictable earthquakes can occur at any time of the year. Several states are more vulnerable to earthquakes than others, including California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Washington.

Every day, an earthquake takes place somewhere on the planet. The great majority, nevertheless, are viewed as trivial. More than 3,000 earthquakes were detected in the United States by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2015.

People may suffer mental pain even after mild earthquakes that do minimal harm and devastation (especially in areas not accustomed to these events). Months after an earthquake, aftershocks can still happen and can be pretty unpleasant.

During an earthquake, it’s common for people to feel emotionally distressed. People may get highly anxious or have trouble sleeping just by thinking about what may be damaged or lost during the event.


Wildfires, caused by nature or people, commonly destroy rural, urban, and suburban regions, increasing the risk of eventual floods and mudslides on the impacted lands. Additionally, the wildfire can grow up to a mile due to falling embers, and nearby towns face health risks from smoke inhalation.

Wildfires are sometimes missed at first and are frequently started by lightning or accidents. However, they are extremely harmful when they appear close to populated places like woods, rural regions, remote mountain sites, and other forest environments. Though they are less frequently reported than floods, tornadoes, and severe storms, they can nonetheless create emotional discomfort among residents.

Before, during, and after wildfires, people frequently experience feelings that are similar to depression, including intense anxiety, continual concern, difficulty sleeping, and other similar symptoms before, during, and after wildfires.


A drought is a common, recurring meteorological occurrence that can differ by area of the nation and even by location within a state in terms of intensity and length. When precipitation is below average for an extended time, generally a season or more, drought develops. A delay in the rainy season or the timing of rain about crop development is two other reasons for the drought.

The psychological impacts of experiencing drought are more subtle and last longer than those of other natural disasters since it is a dangerous slow-moving occurrence. Water shortages caused by low water supply influence various activities and the environment.

As more people demand water supply, the effect is even more apparent. Conditions of dryness also raise the danger of other natural disasters like landslides and wildfires. Feelings of extreme anxiety, persistent concern, trouble sleeping, and other symptoms of depression are possible early indicators of mental suffering brought on by drought.

World’s Deadliest Natural Disasters

Yangtze River Flood (1931)

From ancient times to the present, several severe flood episodes along the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) in central and eastern China have resulted in significant property loss and a large number of fatalities. Still, the vast flood of 1931 stands out. It flooded rice fields and several cities, including Nanjing and Wuhan, across tens of thousands of square kilometres. The flood impacted fifty million people or more. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other government agencies estimate the number of deaths at around 3.7 million.

Haitian Earthquake (2010)

Haiti had an earthquake on January 12, 2010, about 24 kilometres (15 miles) southwest of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake had a Richter scale magnitude of 7.0, and tremors followed it with magnitudes of 5.9 and 5.5. Finally, on January 20, there was a magnitude 5.9 aftershock. The Léogâne fault, a little-known buried thrust fault identified beneath the city of Léogâne, was the source of the earthquake. The exact number of fatalities brought on by this earthquake has been disputed. However, estimates place the death toll between 200,000 and 300,000. In addition, more than 100,000 people were relocated.

Tokyo-Yokohama Earthquake (1923)

On September 1, 1923, at around noon, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan region. Over 140,000 people were said to have died due to the earthquake. Following large fires were to blame for the majority of the fatalities. A tsunami that rose to a height of 39.5 feet (12 metres) in the city of Atami on the Sagami Gulf was caused by the shockwave that caused many hundreds of thousands of homes to be either shaken down or set on fire. The earthquake and its aftershocks devastated Japan’s central business hub and traumatized it for decades.

Kashmir Earthquake (2005)

On October 8, 2005, a natural disaster earthquake rocked the territory of Kashmir governed by Pakistan, the Pakistani province of the North-West Frontier, and nearby areas of India and Afghanistan. The magnitude of the earthquake was 7.6, and several aftershocks, resulting in landslides and falling rocks, made it challenging to assist the survivors. In addition, poor construction in the impacted areas made the devastation more severe and contributed to the high number of fatalities. As a result, at least 79,000 people were murdered in Kashmir, and more than 32,000 houses were destroyed.

Great Galveston Storm (1900)

On September 8, 1900, a hurricane of a predicted category four strength struck Galveston, Texas. This event is known as the Great Galveston Storm. The worst storm and the deadliest natural calamity in American history are still one hurricane. Over 8,000 individuals lost their lives, and 10,000 became homeless. The storm destroyed Galveston, one of the most developed cities in Texas at the time. Galveston, a barrier island, was just 5 feet (1.5 metres) above sea level, but the hurricane’s projected tidal surge was 15 feet (4.5 metres). As storm forecasting at the time lacked the cutting-edge technology required to correctly foresee the vast physical and human toll the hurricane would take, it struck with little notice.

Why not check out some more natural disaster articles: Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Tsunami and Tornadoes.

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