PHYSICAL EFFECTS:  Rescue workers in disasters may face structural damages to buildings, bridges, and roads as well as gas ruptures, loose electric wiring, and air borne chemicals.  Rescue animals and technology may help.  Equipment may include air status monitors, breathing apparatus, fiber optic cameras, infrared equipment, ultasound and other sound recognition equipment.  

PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS: Victims and rescuers are affected psychologically by disasters not only on site but also via media reports of it.  Emotions of shock, rage, and desire for revenge enter the picture.  Later for victims there will be the traumatized memories, the survivor's guilt, feelings of helplessness to help oneself or others, feelings of vulnerability (lost innocence), and the pain associated with losses.   Rescuers may have feelings of helplessness at the numbers needing rescuing and their inability to save everyone with limited resources. 

SOCIAL EFFECTS: Disruption of communication is a major problem.  Downed phone lines and towers limit reconnecting with distant family members and neighbors.

Delays in clean up and restoration can interfere with renewal of social relationships and spark angry attacks and blaming others for one's plight.


Victims may have delays in accessing insurance and loans to begin repairs or replacement of housing, furniture, and necessary supplies for daily living.

Temporary food and housing are likely to be required during the community clean up from a disaster which will take a long time.

Other forms of economic assistance may be in the form of medical, dental, and funeral expenses.  It may also be in the form of repair and replacement of personal transportation.  

Preventing natural disasters and preparedness in case they do occur is essential in every community.  Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and avalanches do occur, and when they do, they kill and maim as well as wreak havoc on the routines and material resources of daily life. A number of governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations help communities before, during, and or after disasters.  

Government (GOV)

In the USA federal, state, and local governments have agencies responsible for responding in case of community-wide emergencies.  Most have detailed plans and guidelines for how to respond in varied forms of emergencies.  Locally police, fire, and emergency technicians are first to respond.  When needed, the local governing body requests state resources to assist.  If state and local resources are inadequate, then the governor formally requests federal resources in accordance with The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288 as amended. 

Under the Stafford Act there are two categories of declaration that the President may grant in response to a state's request for disaster assistance:  Emergency Declaration and Major Disaster Declaration.  The Emergency Declaration permits the provision of debris removal, search and rescue, emergency medical care, emergency mass care, emergency shelter, and provision of food, water, medicine, and other essential needs, including movement of supplies or persons.  The Major Disaster Declaration activates an array of federal programs to assist in the response and recovery effort.

Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)

Civil resources that are not normally controlled by government include human power, food and water, health resources, industrial production, housing and construction, telecommunications, energy, transportation, minerals, materials, and supplies.  That's where non-governmental organizations step in according to their unique mission and resources.  Some organizations have sophisticated plans and guidelines for emergencies and have shared these. 

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) and Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) serve as coordinators of member non-governmental organizations.    NVOAD has a Long-Term Recovery Manual available online with roles of each organizational resource spelled out in terms of preparedness, impact, emergency, and recovery.