Evaluation of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina Disaster in USA

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Evaluation of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina Disaster in USA

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The September 11 2001 attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster have been among the world’s deadliest disasters that the human population has experienced in the last century. These disasters have been grave in the sense that their impact has had tremendous negative effects on not only the affected population but also the entire world. Their impact ranges from thousands of deaths to destruction of billions worth of property; from long-lived psychological and health complications to strained political relations between states. The two disasters are both natural and man-made disasters. Political and geographical reasons/ explanations have thus been used to describe/ explain the causes of the disasters. This paper will evaluate the psychological impact of each disaster on those affected, the manner in which various state and non-state agencies handled these impacts and the role played by the media in the recovery from psychological trauma for the victims.

            Summary of the September 11 2001 attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster

            The September 11 2001 attacks

This was a man-made calamity on September 11, 2001 in which terror attacks occurred on the soil of the United States of America. These attacks were a series of well-planned and co-ordinated attacks that were directed by the Islamist terrorist group-the Al Qaeda on the United States Government. They were launched in New York City and the Washington D.C on the 11th day of September 2001 (Robert A. (2005). The Al Qaeda planned the entire disaster by hijacking four passenger airliners two of which crashed in the World Trade Centre Complex in New York City.

A third plane crashed in the Pentagon (United States Department of Defense) and a fourth plane targeted at Washington D.C crashing in a field after a futile attempt. (Robert A. (2005). The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had a terrible impact resulting in the deaths of 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims. It is estimated that 55 military personnel also perished from the Pentagon attacks with majority of the victims being civilians. The deaths resulted from the impacts of the crash, smoke inhalation and panic falls from the tall towers to evade the billowing smoke and flames. In addition, it was impossible for most of those around the towers to escape to safer grounds thus perishing alongside.

The damages caused estimated to be worth millions of US dollars. These included the twin towers and other buildings surrounding it such as St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church , the Deutsche Bank Building, and the Marriott Hotel alongside others. In addition, the Pentagon building which housed the United States Department of Defense was terribly damaged. This was a huge blow to the United States’ economy. (James 2002). In addition, numerous health repercussions have arisen from the attacks with a number of victims succumbing to the extremely toxic air pollution caused by the smoke and dust. A number of health complications have also been witnessed alongside the psychological impacts on the surviving victims, their friends and relatives.

The Hurricane Katrina disaster

This was a natural disaster considered one of the deadliest natural disasters of its time. It was caused by the Atlantic tropical cyclone.  It is one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of America. It is considered the sixth strongest overall of the recorded hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina is also considered the most costly natural disaster owing to the number of casualties and the million dollar worth of properties destroyed. It occurred on the August of 2005. It was a series of very strong hurricanes that developed over the Bahamas, crossed to Southern Florida, over the Gulf water then finally to Louisiana. On its destruction course, it caused heavy flooding and swept boats, cars, buildings/ homes, trees and humans alongside. It is estimated that the waters from the ocean reached between (10–19 km) from the beach. A significant area of the states of New Orleans and Louisiana suffered extreme flooding due to several hours of storm with the floods lingering for weeks thereafter. (Brown, 2005)

It consequently led to a number of deaths, estimated to be at least 1,833 people dying in the hurricane and subsequent floods. The highest number of deaths was reported in the two states of New Orleans and Louisiana due to the greatest storm and extreme flooding In addition, it caused destruction of homes and property worth millions of dollars. Thousands of victims were rendered homeless with a number suffering from health and psychological complications. The states affected included: the state of Mississippi, New Orleans, Florida, Louisiana, Southeast United States and Canada. The victims got assistance from both the state and non-state agencies although a number still experience psychological complications. (Brown, 2005)

Psychological symptoms and complications of the disasters’ victims

            Psychological symptoms from the September 11 2001 attacks

             Terrorist attacks have a number of mental effects on victims and communities affected. It is considered that after the September 11 attacks, majority of the survivors and the victims received psychological care. Thousands of people were killed and scores injured. In addition, millions who were friends and families of the victims were left behind to deal with the bitter truth of losing loved ones and the horrific trauma of the ill-fated attack. Many of the survivors were left to struggle with the psychological aftermaths. Notably, an army of counselors and mental health experts have been on the forefront in trying to help the victims and their friends and families, recover and grow from after the traumatic incident. Other categories included to be suffering from the psychological trauma include firefighters, the military personnel and the police among others.

The direct victims who survived the September 11 terrorist attacks suffered the most psychologically. Most of the victims and the communities have had short-lived mental impacts with a few experiencing long-term mental effects. The most common psychological symptoms in victims include stress/ depression, and trauma. A report by the New York Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) indicated the various symptoms of the September 11, 2001 victims and the affected population. They found out widespread psychological and emotional effects in individuals from various states affected by the terror attack. The statistics by BRFSS demonstrated the various symptoms portrayed by the victims and affected individuals in one way or another.

From the participants in the survey, approximately half the respondents participated in community memorial services with about 13% attending a funeral or memorial service for a relative or an acquaintance. Moreover, nearly half are reported to be having anger problems related to the effects of the attacks. A significant number of the respondents confessed to be smokers and alcohol drinkers due to the terror attack related stress. Notably though is that the impact of the attacks varied by age, sex, race and educational level among other factors. (BRFSS Report) The findings of this report documented the widespread emotional and psychological effects of the terror attack in which stress/depression was a major symptom of mental breakdown. Majority of the victims engaged in stress relieving habits such as smoking and taking alcohol in a bid to contain the stress within.

In addition, the terror attack survivors showed signs of neurological disorders and trauma. Most of these symptoms were seen to be evident weeks after the terror attacks. The survivors who survived the traumatic injuries demonstrated psychiatric disorder symptoms such as anxiety, unexpected headaches and mood disorders. (Armour S. 2006). It should be noted that these were symptoms alongside the physical injuries on victims carried along after the attacks.

Psychological symptoms from the Hurricane Katrina disaster

The Hurricane Katrina disaster attracted thousands of deaths and scores of casualties. It further left behind painful mental injuries on the survivors and the community around. The psychological damage that was caused by the Katrina disaster lasted months with victims undergoing hard times mentally. Several studies have focused on the psychological impact of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

The psychological symptoms notably vary with demographic variables such as age and sex; other variables such as educational background and race have also influenced the impact and duration of the mental/ psychological injuries. Data relating to the Hurricane Katrina disaster effects indicate that majority of the hurricane’s victim suffered acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The rates of post-traumatic stress disorder in the affected population/ victims were seen to be high during the first weeks of the disaster but sharply as weeks went by, the PTSD in the victims declined sharply. (Kullgren, G. (2001).

In essence, the victims of both disasters and the affected communities suffered psychological injuries. Most of them portrayed symptoms associated with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which included anxiety, depression, insomnia, emotional numbing and drug abuse among other symptoms. The symptoms however vary with the various factors indicated above such as age, sex, race a.............


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