Differences Between Floods in Rich and Floods in Poor Countries

When a natural disaster strikes a poor country and a rich country, there will always be different consequences.


California, USA

In the year 2017, from January 7 until February 22, a vast amount of rainfall precipitated in the state of California, causing the death of five people. Probably, if this vast amount of rainfall had precipitated after a gradual amount of rain, there would have not been floods. California had just recovered from its worst drought, and California’s grounds were not capable of soaking any water. These series of floods cost the property damage a value of more than $1.5 billion in property damage.

A total rainfall of 27.34 million millilitres of water fell between January 7 and February 22. 202,500 people were forced to leave their homes. Others were evacuated by the emergency services through boat, once higher levels of water filled the streets. However, apart from being rescued by boat, some people who had been trapped in their homes, and they were struggling to stay on their rooftops, were rescued by the emergency services, or military services through a helicopter.

Several rivers overflowed their banks, and had a much a higher water level than usual, which led to flooding around the river. This high water level led to mudslides, forcing to evacuate many families and people from their homes. This period of time did not just cause rainfall precipitation, but snow precipitation. In many cases, the vigorous snowfall caused many snow blockages in roads and streets, and people were naturally forced to not leave their homes, as they could not.

Nevertheless, apart from causing destruction, these floods and intense rainfall managed to not just fill the dry dams since the California droughts, but to leave them with a higher water level than always. Many reservoirs’ water levels popped up to levels that not been seen since 1997.

The California floods and heavy rainfall did not only cause flooding during the months of January and February, but indeed in summer too. In fact, during the California floods caused by the strong rainfall also left huge masses of snow accumulated in Sierra Nevada, California. When summer came the high temperatures would melt these respectable masses of snow and ice, causing the fluid water to flood near areas.

This storm was predicted by weather forecasters in California, meaning that people could get prepared for it to come, or be ready to leave their homes. In some cases, they did not have to leave their homes, although it was a security precaution due to the danger of some buildings collapsing. These evacuees were given a place to stay in while they were out of their homes. Californian military and emergency services had enough capability to rescue and evacuate people who were trapped or incapable of leaving their homes by themselves, such as for elderly people.

Southeast Asia: Bangladesh, India, and Nepal

The situation during the monsoon season and the California floods were technically the same, except that the monsoon season in South-East Asia brought more quantity of water.

The monsoon season is a period of time where there is a lot of rainfall precipitation, and usually, there is considerable destruction, but this year, the monsoon season was extremely enhanced by Climate Change, causing more than 1,200 deaths in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. 40 million people were affected by the monsoon season, either injured, forced to leave their homes and have nowhere to go, or lost everything they had.

Public service transport with people inside like buses were trapped around with water, or due to the construction material of many buildings (not very strengthening) collapsed, unfortunately killing people inside, or around it.

Unlike in the USA (in California), Bangladesh, India and Nepal are poor countries. When a poor or undeveloped country faces a natural disaster, it will be much more vulnerable than if a rich country faces this natural disaster, in this case a flood.

Firstly, when a poor country such as Bangladesh faces a natural disaster or destruction, it does not have the same capability to cope with it as a rich and developed country. In a situation of havoc, a poor country totally relies and depends on other rich and developed countries to cope with the situation. A poor country’s emergency service will not be developed, if it has one, and it will not be able to evacuate or save people. It is totally the opposite—the people are forced to save themselves in a situation like this, unless external aid comes. Mostly, governmental aid will not help much, and Bangladesh, India and Nepal will finally rely upon only Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

In many cases, even these NGOs will not be able to help and supply enough people with resources, not because they do not want, but because they have obstacles which make it more difficult, such as if the country is in war/conflict or the natural disaster is taking place currently. This would lead to robbery between people to obtain the basic food they need to survive. Robbery would lead to a higher level of danger, and the arrival of humanitarian aid would have more obstacles in between, slowing down the rate of its arrival.

Furthermore, these poor countries will take a great time to recover, because they do not have the resources and money to repair property damage, and help people to go back how they were before, which would be even more chaotic if the country is already in a state of war and conflict.

However, all this havoc could have been prevented if these countries had prediction media, or weather forecasts. Furthermore, when the monsoon season arrives and destroys every year, there will always be people who die in the presence of this devastating season. If there is no prediction media or resources, and no organisation of the government to evacuate their citizens, it will be too late, and only those who were saved or rescued were evacuated not by their government, but by their own strength – although mostly by humanitarian aid, which cannot cope with everybody. Very often, humanitarian aid is not enough, and these affected people have to uselessly wait more time, while they have no food, maybe any shelter unless it has been provided, until more humanitarian aid comes and it runs short again.

Many times, when a poor country is in a state of disorder, robbery and chaos, and it is a dictatorship, there will be armed groups of soldiers which block the entrance of humanitarian aid, or force citizens to hand them over to the soldiers by a warning of shooting or hurting someone. This would not help in any way to recover the country.

It has not been the first time that while a poor country is recovering, it is struck by another natural disaster or catastrophe, as mentioned before—armed struggle.

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