What Are Natural Disasters?
Natural disasters are life-threatening and property-damaging weather events. They not only create hazardous situations for the inhabitants of a community, whether from powerful flood waters or erosion-inducing landslides, but they also leave costly repairs in their wake.
The effects of natural disasters can be financially devastating to a country, and proper preventative measures are necessary to mitigate the level of destruction that occurs.
Types of Natural Disasters in South America
Natural Disasters by Country & Dependency
The diverse regions of South America are susceptible to a variety of natural disasters, though flooding is the most common event experienced.
- Argentina: As it spans over a large majority of the southern part of South America, the climate of Argentina is quite varied, and the country experiences many forms of natural disasters—flooding, droughts, landslides, earthquakes, and tornadoes. In 2015, the country experienced severe flooding that saw the evacuation of over 25,000 people.
- Bolivia: Drought has heavily affected the people of Bolivia, exacerbating the huge wildfires that have plagued the country in recent years.
- Brazil: The rainy season in Brazil causes dangerous flooding, triggering landslides. In February of 2022, over 20 people lost their lives and at least 1,500 families were forced to leave their homes in São Paulo behind as the result of intense rainfall that caused both flooding and landslide debris to demolish the city.
- Chile: Being a coastal country, Chile is at high risk for tsunamis and coastal flooding. Its location between two tectonic plates, the Nazca plate and South American plate, make it a hot spot for violent earthquakes.
- Colombia: Colombia is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making volcanic eruptions and earthquakes a common experience for Colombians. Since 1970, flooding and landslides have destroyed over half of homes in Colombia that were built in areas deemed unsafe for habitation.
- Ecuador: Tsunamis, earthquakes, and major flooding have greatly affected the Ecuadorian people.
- French Guiana: This small dependency north of Brazil has a long rainy season—eight months of the year—and experiences flooding from these treacherous downfalls, as well as tropical storms.
- Falkland Islands: Research from 2020 found that the Falkland islands are in danger of tsunamis due to submarine landslides. The flooding that powerful tsunamis can induce can be life-threatening and expensive.
- Guyana: Rising river levels from periods of heavy rain resulting from La Niña have caused damage to the infrastructure and homes in the low-lying areas of Guyana.
- Paraguay: Despite being landlocked, flooding has greatly affected the agricultural output and the hydroelectric industry in Paraguay.
- Peru: Like Colombia, Peru experiences the effects of being located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and earthquakes and tsunamis have caused over 511,000 Peruvians to lose their homes in the last 30 years.
- Suriname: 30% of this small country’s land is within just a few feet of sea level, making it prone to river and coastal flooding
- Uruguay: While earthquakes and hurricanes are not natural disasters to be worried about in Uruguay, flooding from heavy rains and sea surges is common.
- Venezuela: Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and mudslides are all regular occurrences in Venezuela.
Types of Natural Disasters in Central America
Natural Disasters by Country
Hurricanes and subsequent flooding are common for the inhabitants of Central America. Countries that are less prepared to deal with natural disasters due to lack of proper infrastructure development and protective measures are more at risk of having to deal with the long-lasting, expensive effects.
- Belize: The low-lying terrain that is Belize is greatly affected by hurricanes and flooding; in fact, Belize was rated eighth out of 168 countries when it comes to the chance of being affected by climate change-induced disasters.
- Costa Rica: Flooding is the real issue Costa Rica, which occurs as a result of strong thunderstorms causing river levels to rise.
- El Salvador: Residents of El Salvador are no strangers to hurricanes, tropical storms, and earthquakes—88% of El Salvador is at risk of severe impact from natural disasters, with 95% of El Salvador’s population at some risk of being affected by these damaging weather events.
- Guatemala: Flooding, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis. In 2017, Guatemala ranked fourth in the world for risk of being seriously impacted by a natural disaster.
- Honduras: Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and droughts affect the people of Honduras. Due to a large majority of the country being impoverished, in 2021, The Inter-American Development Bank approved a continent loan of $400 million to aid the country in dealing with the effects of natural disasters.
- Nicaragua: The country is extremely susceptible to hurricanes, flooding, and landslides, all of which have left infrastructure in need of repair, impacting travel to and from Nicaragua as well as food shortages.
- Panama: Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis—Panama has faced numerous costly natural disasters over the years.
Causes and Effects of Natural Disasters in South & Central America
Whether they are naturally occuring or the result of human technological advancements, the regularity of natural disasters is rampantly pushing communities to better protect themselves from their devastating effects.
The people, environment, and infrastructure of South America and Central America have faced the serious repercussions of huge floods, tsunamis, and land-eroding earthquakes. These can be particularly devastating in low-income areas that depend on the land for survival.
- Deforestation: Cutting down trees weakens the water-absorbing root system in an area, making flooding more difficult to control.
- Erosion: Erosion can create dangerous sinkholes and induce landslides that cause serious infrastructure and environmental issues.
- Climate change: Our planet is consistently heating up, heavily in part to human industrial intervention. Sea levels around South and Central America are projected to continually rise (and warm), increasing the likelihood of unstable and extreme weather patterns as well as damaging coastal flooding, which leaves communities incredibly weakened.
- Movement in the Earth’s crust: Seismic activity, the natural shifting of tectonic plates, can induce earthquakes, sinkholes, and tsunamis.
- Changing ocean currents: When ocean currents change, the water can become warmer, providing ideal conditions for a tropical storm to form.
- Loss of life: In the 50 year span between 1970 and 2019, there were at least 58,000 fatalities in South America as a direct result from a natural disaster, with flooding being the most common event.
- Erosion: The extreme flooding, high winds, and landslides associated with many kinds of natural disasters can devastate land that many people rely on for agricultural purposes.
- Private property damage: Many homes, especially those in impoverished areas, are settled along riverbanks and coasts, which the residents utilize in their day-to-day lives. Flooding and landslides in these areas can and does upend entire communities. In 2017, mudslides in Peru demolished over 14,000 homes, while one entire village, Barbablanca, was buried in mud, along with its avocado farms and hydroelectric plant.
- Public property damage: The damage sustained from natural disasters can be wildly expensive to remedy. Following an intense earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 in 2016, Ecuadorian officials estimated the cost of the 90% infrastructure that was lost would be between $2 billion and $3 billion.
- Economic loss: The agricultural industry, a large source of income for many countries in South and Central America, can be enormously impacted by rising flood waters. Following unprecedented amounts of flooding in 2015, the Argentinian government declared an agricultural state of emergency. Not only were crops destroyed, but livestock was left unable to properly graze, with their food source completely underwater. In countries that rely heavily on tourism as a source of income, the prevalence of natural disasters can dissuade outsiders from traveling for fear of experiencing a catastrophic event.
How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster.
Phases of Disaster Management
You can better prepare your country and its communities by implementing the steps outlined in governmental disaster management.
- Mitigation of effects: Ensure your community is equipped with effective forms of flood barriers, erosion control, and landslide diversion strategies. TrapBag® barriers are an incredibly durable form of protection that can be applied in a variety of ways to reinforce infrastructure, homes, shorelines, and mitigate the effects of flooding.
- Preparation: Alert and inform people residing in areas more prone to flooding that they may need to evacuate to higher elevations. Stress the importance of having a supply of non-perishable food and drinking water in the event they are unable to leave their homes.
- Response: After a natural disaster occurs, identify regions that most require assistance, whether through rescue efforts, medical attention, or food and water supply.
- Recovery: Rebuild the community’s infrastructure and create a plan to better prepare for future events.
Prevention of Natural Disasters: TrapBag Barriers
When it comes to providing protection for a variety of natural disasters, TrapBags are the optimal choice. This engineered form of damage mitigation is effective when employed as many forms of solutions, including:
- Flood barriers: When a hurricane or treacherous storm hits, TrapBag flood barriers can divert the damaging flow of water away from at-risk areas like farmland. TrapBags can also be arranged as a seawall alternative, providing necessary protection to coastal communities experiencing tsunamis or rising sea levels.
- Erosion control: Extreme winds, rising water levels, earthquakes, and landslides can destabilize land. TrapBag barriers offer incredible protection from erosion, ensuring property values do not drastically decline, and the ecosystem stays intact.
- Infrastructure support: TrapBags can be arranged to provide additional stability to bridges, dams, highways, and other forms of infrastructure during natural disasters, mitigating extensive damage, expensive repairs, and loss of employment.
- Diversion walls: During mudslides, land can tumble into buildings and homes, leaving huge amounts of damage in their wake. TrapBags can be filled with concrete to build incredibly sturdy protective walls that block and divert mudslide and landslide debris, saving thousands of people from losing their belongings and facing homelessness.
- Dams: Reliable dams are crucial to preventing natural disaster-induced flooding. TrapBags can be arranged to block and redirect water, saving communities costly repairs and saving the local economy from tanking.
- Levees: This form of TrapBag water barrier prevents flood waters from infiltrating elevated surfaces, like roadways and agricultural plots.
- Stormwater containment: Natural disasters often result in contaminated runoff. If not properly handled, this debris-filled water can destroy land and pollute water sources. TrapBag stormwater detention basins help keep the inhabitants and environment safe and healthy.
- Spill control: Chemical and/or oil spills, like stormwater runoff, can be extremely detrimental to the environment, especially agricultural plots. Due to their incredible strength and durability, TrapBags are a great solution to retaining toxic chemicals.
Beneficial Properties of TrapBags
TrapBags are superior forms of protection and prevention during natural disasters.
- Versatile: TrapBags can be filled with a variety of substances including sand, washed gravel, and concrete. They can create many types of structures, as well as offer support during many forms of natural disasters.
- Durable and dependable: The exterior strength of TrapBags, along with the leakproof, accordion structure, makes them extremely reliable forms of protective and preventive barriers, ensuring expensive infrastructure and pillars of communities like large plots of farmland are still standing and safe after a natural disaster passes through.
- Easily installed: Many communities in South and Central America can be hard to protect due to the varying elevation of landscapes and potential lack of infrastructure. This makes it difficult to transport protective barriers. Unlike many other forms of protection, TrapBags do not require heavy machinery to be placed. Installation is made simple by the interconnected structure of the barriers; they can be laid and arranged on a variety of landscapes, whether it is flat or sloped.
- Quick to deploy: Natural disasters can happen quickly. TrapBags are rapidly deployable, offering a quick and strong form of protection that anyone can set up.
Use TrapBags for Protection from Natural Disasters
With climate change consistently impacting the environment, the infrastructure, populations, and economic development of both South America and Central America are at risk of being destroyed by natural disasters. Reliable, cost-effective forms of protection are required to minimize these risks, and TrapBag barriers are the most versatile, dependable barrier on the market.