Natural disasters inflict suffering on millions of people every year, but most of us pay little attention as we go about our daily routines. We might be somewhat aware of others’ misfortunes by reading about them or watching news clips, but it’s a different story if you happen to be where the disaster happens.
In the summer of 2012, for example, there were major floods in the Black Sea area of Russia, in Niger, the Philippines, and Myanmar (Burma) that took hundreds of lives and made many thousands homeless. A series of earthquakes struck Iran in August and southwestern China in September, killing hundreds and destroying thousands of homes. Typhoon Bolaven hit the Korean Peninsula at the end of August with high winds and driving rain, causing hundreds of fatalities and mass home evacuations. On the same day that Typhoon Bolaven pummeled Korea, Hurricane Isaac struck the U.S. Gulf Coast with 90 mph (150 kph) winds, heavy rain, and a storm surge of more than11 ft. (3.4m). There were 9 deaths, and hundreds of homeless in flooded neighborhoods. Although Isaac delivered rain to many parts of a parched Mississippi Valley, most of the southwest and Midwest continued to suffer one their worst droughts on record.
Natural disasters cause death and damage all over the planet, all year, every year. It all depends on where you are the moment. Most of us are lucky. Some of us aren’t.