Social class often influences the vulnerability of individuals and groups to disaster across the disaster life cycle. Individuals living in poverty are more vulnerable and may likely live in a fragile housing. Besides, they habitually face challenges in accessing various resources after disasters. Thus, they experience trauma during and after the disaster (Vyas & Dillahunt, 2017). It implies that they have lower likelihood of getting warnings of disaster and inability to evacuate while responding to the warnings. The poor are at high risk and may not receive adequate post-disaster aid.
Disaster preparation is always determined by the social economic status of people. Individuals in high social class tend to take precaution and protect themselves against possible disaster. On the other hand, those in lower social class may not be cognizant of the possible risks they face in their communities (Finnegan & O’Donoghue, 2019). Those in low social economic class (SEC) may not respond to the disaster warnings. For instance, most of the individuals in low SEC did not move from the affected areas before Hurricane Katrina. They were unable to move away due to lack of transportation, money, or a place to relocate to after the disaster.
Post-disaster aid is largely dependent on social economic status of the victims. Those in high social classes can receive support from their wealthy friends and relatives. Conversely, there are barriers faced by people in low SEC while interacting with bureaucratic systems to obtain housing and other forms of aid. Some of them do not have adequate knowledge about the ways in which survivors may receive aid. They may experience issues such as inability to move from the disaster-stricken areas to assistance centers. Some may have discomfort while interacting with the system.
Individuals in low SEC are likely to stay in homes that are susceptible to disasters. It becomes challenging to receive new homes after the disaster, as their properties and homes are damaged in the event of calamities (Hallegatte et al., 2016). Most of the disaster victims who end up homeless are always from lower social class. Research shows that people in low SEC have greater challenges compared those in higher SEC in accessing financial support as well as loans to aid with disaster recovery (Vyas & Dillahunt, 2017). They are forced to remain homeless since the aid may not be sufficient to rebuild their homes.
Racism influences the vulnerability of ethnic and racial minorities to calamities in various ways.
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Japan’s tsunami that was experienced in 2011 began as an earthquake that triggered the tsunami. The calamity devastated the population living around the coastal towns and killed thousands of people (Akoh et al., 2017). It also caused a lot of damage as well as pollution of up to six miles inland. Several buildings were destroyed, as the anti-tsunami defenses that were built by Japan were washed by the disaster. The calamity was the most expensive globally, as the Japanese government had to invest most resources during recovery.
After issuing the disaster warnings, only half the population moved to the upper ground. It left another group more susceptible to the adverse effects of the tsunami. Transport networks were disrupted, which made it challenging to move the victims. A large population was left homeless and the government never resettled them. Over 10,000 people lost their lives and about 2,000 people remain uncounted for after the incident (Akoh et al., 2017). The area worst hit by the calamity was coastal area of Honshu in the east. The event has made the Japanese government to rethink about its emergency preparedness and developed new warning system for tsunami. Other countries also got valuable lessons from the incident. Early warnings should be acted upon to avert loss of property and life.