Disasters could occur due to an act of terror or through natural causes. In this case, the discussion is based on the facts about Lusitania Disaster was caused by terrorism, which led to the loss of 1,195 lives and the Hurricane Katrina, a natural disaster that cased the death of approximately 1,840 people. The disasters also led to the destruction of other valuables such as houses, bridges and roads. This comparative research briefly explains the occurrence of Lusitania Disaster and Hurricane Katrina and outlines their similarities and dissimilarities. It then discusses three major psychology of disaster concepts applied to the disasters and finally a summary of the findings and discussions.

Lusitania Disaster

This catastrophe involved a sea vessel called RMS Lusitania. It was a large ocean ship that was used in ferrying people across the Pacific Ocean, serving New York City, Liverpool and England. It was also used to ferry war machineries during the World War I (Sylves, 2008). The disaster happened when the ship was almost reaching the Dock that was situated in Liverpool. At this point, the ship was obstructed by U-20 on its way to the dock. The people aboard the U-20 fired at it, after which there was an outburst from the part that was hit by the torpedo (Sylves, 2008). This explosion triggered the ship to start sinking, making it difficult for the people who were on board to launch a rescue operation. For instance, the rescue only managed to launch six lifeboats to help assist the survivors. They could not manage to launch the remaining 42 lifeboats, a situation that made almost 1,195 passengers to lose their lives in the tragedy (Sylves, 2008). Since the ship had 1,959 persons on board, only 764 survived during this disaster. The information about this catastrophe spread very fast and reached all corners of the world, a situation that created a psychological trauma among the survivors and their relatives. 

Disaster Chosen

In this research, the chosen disaster is the Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, approximately 1,840 people lost their lives during the disaster (Arhcer, 2010). As a result, the nation had the obligation to rebuild New Orleans in a way that future floods could be easily prevented. This can be made possible through proper planning of the city and its administration to avoid the tragic occurrence when it is hit by Hurricane Katrina. The nation should put in place some of the best building specifications and a firm evacuation plan to avoid such disasters in future.

The most appropriate time to spend money protecting beaches is probably during low tides, especially before the onset of breaking waves and tsunamis/Katrina (McEntire, 2006). There are various economic and legal tools, which are available for protecting beaches. The tools include both the simplest restraint and new development planning measures that help in mitigating the loss of the established property and life. It is important to put into account that the chosen tools should be designed from the information that is based on the understanding of the plant communities’ role, sand volumes and supply, barrier islands’ dynamics, soil erosion rates, development/economic value of the project, and roles of dunes (Arhcer, 2010). One of the important tools is to set policies that advocates for retreating from hazard zones. In addition, beach stabilization can be restricted by relocating and removing major structures, especially buildings that put more burdens on the natural environment than the benefit.

The scientific evidences have been very instrumental in reconstruction the last deglaciation because, they give predictions as to what might happen based on the past experience. Using the weather patterns, climatic conditions of the past thousands years can be studied and subsequently predictions can be made for years to come. There has been reconstruction of qualitative stations databases about the rainfall depth and infiltration on the earth. The snowfall and snow depth has also been studied and this has assisted in rainfall reconstruction (Bruce, 2006).

Disaster Similarities and Dissimilarities

The main similarities of the two tragedies included the following. First, people lost their lives. For instance, the Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans killed approximately 1,840 people while the Lusitania Disaster led to the death of 1,195 passengers. Second, there was destruction of property; for instance, in the Lusitania Disaster, the ship sunk and destroyed while in Hurricane Katrina, the coastal buildings, roads and bridges were destroyed. Third, some of the people caught in the two tragedies survived, with a number of them being psychologically affected.

On the other hand, there were remarkable differences between the two tragedies. For example, while the Lusitania Disaster happened in the sea, the Hurricane Katrina affected people and property inland.  The ship sank in the sea, thus made the rescue operations very difficult, especially those who could not swim.  Alternatively, the Hurricane Katrina affected the people who were inland and did not know that the disaster could occur, they were just trapped (Arhcer, 2010). Secondly, while the Lusitania Disaster was caused by human error, the Hurricane Katrina was caused natural causes such as deglaciation. Third, while the Lusitania Disaster happened during the World War I, the Hurricane Katrina occurred in 2005 (Bruce, 2006). This means that their occurrence had significant disparities regarding the timing. Basically, the Lusitania Disaster happened when the affected country had not developed sophisticated tools for carrying out the rescue mission, while during the Hurricane Katrina, the country had better equipment for rescuing the survivors.

Three Major Psychology of Disaster Concepts Applied to the Disasters

Regarding the two major disasters examined in this research, the three major concepts applicable to their occurrence include Terror Management Theory (TMT), Phases of Disaster Recovery Theory and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These theories help in shading the light about the nature and circumstances surrounding their occurrence (McEntire, 2006). They also examine the appropriateness of the measures, which were taken during rescue operation. It is important to recognize the contribution of psychological first aid to the victims of such disasters, especially the survivors and their close family members.

Terror Management Theory (TMT)

Basically, the Lusitania Disaster was an act of terror since the ship did not just sink due to mechanical failure, but due to the explosion that occurred when it was fired by the person aboard the U-20. It is clear that the TMT could not apply in the Hurricane Katrina since this is a natural disaster. This smaller vessel obstructed the ship forcing it to stall, after which the terrorist caused the problem. Using the terror management theory, the ship’s pilot and technical team ought to have used surveillance methods to make sure that the way was clear (Valasek, 2001). They would have identified the probable obstruction and acted fast before the tragedy occurred.   

The proponents of the Terror Management Theory argue that there are several methods, which the crew ship ought to have used to counter terrorism actions. In the first place, there is the use of prior planning in order to detect and neutralize terror activities. Prior planning involves the use of a professional team of investigators, capable of locating any presence of terrorists. Secondly, the use of non-military ways in countering terrorism acts. The theory also suggests the application of a non-military approach solves the issue of resource allocation through equitability process (Valasek, 2001). In this case, the other method used is the military intervention. It involves the use of defense force in combating acts of terrorism. The theory also suggests the use of legislation. These are the rules put in place by various governments to deal with terrorism. The rules differ from one country to the other depending on the need.

Therefore, it means that there is no homogeneous law on anti-terrorism that could have subverted the Lusitania Disaster. However, human right issues have to be addressed in accordance to the international standard. It is noted that any violation of the fundamental human right, prompts activists to call for the repeal or review of such a law (Valasek, 2001). This complicates the matter since the terrorists may hide behind the principles of human rights in carrying out their dirty actions. It therefore calls for a commonly accepted way of dealing with terrorism. Moreover, there is not yet a universally accepted way to deal with this vice. The United States of America issued travel ban to any individual supporting any terrorist activity. This means if one lend hand to any terror group, then the individual is barred from setting his foot in the United States’ soil. The American Government has supported fight on terrorism, either through the use of marine or air strikes.

The anti-terrorism laws once passed, remain in place even if it is intended to achieve a particular goal, and it is regardless whether the aim has been achieved or not. In particular anti-terrorism legislation is intended to sweep terror groups, or individual that is part of their broad network (Valasek, 2001). However, targets are not met at times and therefore, the wrath lands on innocent civilians.

Some of the anti-terrorism laws include; air strikes and surveillance, military deployment at the boarder, detention of terror suspect, control orders, travel advisories among others. If the laws were effectively used, the Lusitania Disaster could have been avoided. The legislations are considered as emergency response to either threat or in case of attack (Valasek, 2001). The effect of these laws are felt for a period even when the mission is complete. However, legislations governing dangerous zones are yet to be passed.

 Phases of Disaster Recovery Theory

Knowing that the victims of the disasters suffer certain problems relating to irritation, self- condemnation, withdrawal, anger, blaming others, helplessness, isolation, and fear of recurrence, the disaster recovery theory could be used in assisting them to get better from their situation. The theory cuts across the two disasters and postulates a number of steps in dealing with the victim’s condition (Gibbs & Montagnino, 2005). This means that the person handling the cases must be well conversant with the stages and know exactly the ways to go about them. 

Impact phase: the theory suggests that the survivors should be reminded of the situation prior to the disaster and their psychological status by then (Gibbs & Montagnino, 2005). Since at that time the victims did not have any emotions or panic that the problem could occur, they should acknowledge that the disaster had passed and that they are safe. Therefore, it would be important for them to avoid being drawn to the imagination box of the incident and take life positive.

Inventory Phase: the survivor should be taken through an assessment of the damage that had occurred and the fact that they are safe (Gibbs & Montagnino, 2005). In this phase, the recovery team should help the victims avoid the social ties associated with the incident, thus assist them build meaningful relationships.    

Full Recovery Phase: this is a critical stage of the recovery process because the survivors have to be brought to terms with the reality of the incident through the assistance of the rescuers, volunteers, counselors, and other emergency services experts (Gibbs & Montagnino, 2005). At this stage, the victims should be made to accept the safety from the disaster, thus avoid revisiting the images, which they might have witnessed during the problem.  

 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Diagnosis

The extent to which the victims could face PTSD such as mood swing, depression, denial, sadness, memory lapse, and marital/relationship problems necessitates the diagnosis of the survivor’s psychological environment. The application of PTSD theory helps in building the psychological well being as will be evidenced in this research. For instance during the disasters, the survivors actually witnessed potential death, loss of relationships, minor or serious body injuries, destruction of buildings, roads and other valuables (Gibbs & Montagnino, 2005).

The occurrences would probably be memorable for a long time. Therefore, the theory postulates that the victims should be encouraged to accept the loss, injuries they sustained and the death of their loved ones and continue to live positively. When the traumatic stress disorders are identified and addressed in time, the survivors would easily accept their status and live comfortably (Gibbs & Montagnino, 2005). For instance, one the survivors of the two disasters are informed that traumatic stress may could grossly interfere with cognitive, physical health and interpersonal relationships; they would understand the significance of positive living. They should desist from the wrong perception of loneliness, helplessness, denial, and depression so that they could recover from the situation very fast.


The Disasters occurred differently despite having certain similarities. Lusitania Disaster was caused by terrorism, leading to the loss of 1,195 lives, while Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster that cased the death of approximately 1,840 people and other valuables such as houses, bridges and roads. The research analyzed into details three major concepts, which are applicable to their occurrence, including Terror Management Theory (TMT), Phases of Disaster Recovery Theory and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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