Natural Disaster Outline



  • Background before the catastrophe

  1. Education

  2. Cultural

  3. Economic

  • Sequence of happenings before the occurrence

  • Impacts of the disaster

  1. Economic

  2. Cultural

  • Measures to be put in place

  • Conclusion

Naturaldisasters are adverse events that arise as a result of the naturalEarth processes. They are categorized into geological, hydrological,metrological, wildfires, health and space disasters in general.Specific occurrences include floods, earthquakes, and eruptions ofthe volcanoes, Tsunamis, Blizzards, Hailstorms, solar flares and thetornadoes. The impacts of these catastrophes are always massive andspread in all the life sectors.

However,the susceptibility of regions to these calamities depends on severalfactors. Apart from exposure to the natural hazards, other factorsthat can be imagined or actual are aggravated by the poverty levelswithin the hit societies. It is only exposure that is out of man’scontrol.

TheSan Francisco Earthquake provides a good platform to have the pictureof the society before a calamity, the geological events that resultto an earthquake, the impacts and the measures that can be put inplace to reduce the huge effects of the catastrophe in case ithappens in future.

Education,Cultural, and Economic Background before the Catastrophe

Beforethe 1906 earthquake, San Francisco was doing much better in theeducation sector. There were public schools as well as those thatwere sponsored by the churches such as the Baptist Church. The citycouncil had also come up with an ordinance which made it free for allchildren attending the public schools (Mann, 2012).

In1906, San Francisco Education Board had banned many Japanese andKorean students from enrolling in public schools in San Francisco.However, this came to an end when the Japanese government stoppedgiving out passports to workers who passed to the US.

Thetown was a cultural powerhouse. Being the largest city in the PacificCoast region it attracted many people from different regions of theworld. Thus, it had a mixed culture from the French, Japanese,Africa, and Chinese besides those of American origin. According toHerbert Asbury, it was the Paris of America and the most corrupt cityin American continent at the time (Asbury, 2012). The city hadChinese theaters, Africa American dancers, and comedians. There werenumerous daily newspapers in foreign languages, internationalrestaurants such as the French and Chinese restaurants were also manyin San Francisco. Certainly, San Francisco had a multi-racialculture.

Beforethe 1906 earthquake, the town was booming economically. Features likethe skyscrapers in the streets and large hotels and restaurantsconfirmed this (Asbury, 2012). Equally, the city was well connectedwith Cable car lines that traversed the market streets. Being a portcity, San Francisco had shipyards which made ferryboats, battleships,and even submarines. A good number of the city dwellers earned aliving from maritime businesses. Additionally, the city had smallfactories as well as foundries.


Sequenceof Geological Events that Combine to Form the Natural Disaster

Wheneverthere is an earthquake, it is obvious that there are geologicalevents that precede it (Bruno, 2012). Certain geological processescombined to cause the devastating earthquake that is well documentedin the historical manuscripts. The calamity was centered at the SanAndreas Fault which forms one of the tectonic borders between thePacific Plate and the North American Plate (Birch, 2013). Thedisaster was as a result of a strike-slip fault. As such, the PacificPlates shifted northwards and slightly to the Northern AmericanPlate. The shifting caused an effect over 400 kilometers apart,southwards and northwards. Equally, there was a surface displacementthat was recorded a measurement of about 9 meters. Bruno notes thatseveral twists in the interior of the earth crust happened soonbefore the earthquake occurred (Bruno, 2012). It is, however, clearthat the major shock did arise in the sea almost 4 kilometers awayfrom San Francisco. Tremors were as from Los Angeles to Oregon. Apower collapse followed the major shock which lasted roughly forabout 30 seconds. What followed was a great earthquake that recordeda magnitude of about 8.2 on the Richter scale (Birch, 2013). Thoughthis happened virtually less than a minute, the destructions itcaused were much devastating.

Effectsof the Earthquake

Themorning of April 18th, 1906 was a turning point for San Franciscocity economically. Though the magnitude of the quake was so high onthe Richter scale, the damage was largely done by the fires thatbroke out after the catastrophe. Moreover, the majority of thebuildings in and across the city were mainly made of wood (Dacy etal., 2016). Thus, once the fires broke out, they spread quickly amongthe congested buildings within the town and its outskirts. Thefirefighters were hindered to beat down the flames since the tremorhad destroyed the water mains. Thus, properties worthy of millionswere destroyed. In fact, the destruction was estimated roughlybetween $300-600 million (Dacy et al., 2016).

Newsabout the earthquake disaster spread across the US in hours and theimpact was felt in the stock markets almost immediately. The crashdirectly resulted in a significant drop in share prices in the Londonand New York equity markets (Cross &amp Ira, 2011). This impact wasfelt years after the disaster.

Apartfrom the buildings, shipyards, small factories and foundries thatwere situated in the Coastal city all were grounded and none remainedoperational (Charlton, 2015). It is evident that rebuilding allthese industries could not have happened overnight just like thedisaster took minutes to bring the whole city down. Rather it tookmany years to rebuild thus the impact spread throughout the years.

Whatwas more economically devastating was the loss of lives that hadworked all around to ensure the economic booming of the Port City(Dacy et al., 2016). Though the authorities exaggerated the number ofthose who perished, it was estimated that over a thousand lives werelost. To recover this labor, it could take years after the disaster.

Thecatastrophe did not only destroy properties, but it also altered theculture of those who lived in the city. Besides reducing the cityinto ruins, it also brought done the cultural walls that were evidentbetween the rich and the poor. The cultural boundaries that dividedthe different races in San Francisco were equally done away with inthe aftermath of the earthquake. It did not distinguish the rich fromthe poor and the destruction was across the levels socialstratification.

Inparticular, the Chinese cultures became conspicuous in San Francisco.The fires that erupted after the calamity burnt to ashes thedocuments in the immigration offices (Bronson, 2014). Due to this,Chinese men were able to cross over their family to the US andconsequently adopted American citizenship.

Culturally,the cultural legacy that San Francisco boasted of was utterlydestroyed, and it took it over ten years to reconstruct it.

Measuresto Reduce Losses in Case of Reoccurrence of Such Event

Inany case, it is almost impossible to stop a natural disaster fromhappening. However, proper planning can minimize the destructioncaused by natural disasters such as earthquakes. Thus, varioussuggestions could be implemented with the aim of reducing the loss oflife and destruction of properties resulting from natural disasterssuch as earthquakes in future.

Oneof the mitigation techniques is to construct buildings that areresistance to seismic tremors. Strong buildings do not get demolishedduring earthquakes (Kuge et al, 2013). Thus, it is prudent for theSan Francisco residents to construct seismic resistant buildings.

Additionally,detecting and lengthening the warning occasion before the earthquakeoccurs is also a technique of averting more damages caused by theearthquakes in future (Birch &amp Wacher, 2011). With these peoplewill at least have time to vacate from the earthquake marked zones.This aspect can be done by putting in place sensitive monitoringdevices to detect earthquake tremors.


Fromany angle, San Francisco was hard hit by the quake and the fires thatbroke as a result of the natural disaster. The impacts were feltacross all spheres of life as discussed in the paper. Nonetheless,the port city was up again within a short time. About ten years afterthe disaster the city was booming with various businesses, automobilefactories, airports and contemporary exhibitions. However, it actedas an eye-opener to planners to come up with measures to curbdestructions just in case it reoccurs in future.


Asbury,H. (2012). TheBarbary Coast: an Informal history of the San Francisco Underworld.New York: A.A.Knopf.

Birch,F. (2013) “Elasticity and Constitution of the earth interior”.Journalof Geophysical Research, 52 (2),220-250.

Birch,E.L., &amp Wacher, S.M. (2011). Rebuilding Urban Places afterDisaster:Lessons from Hurricane Katrina.Philadelphia: university of Pennsylvanian Press, Inc.

Bronson,W. (2014). Theearth shock, the sky burned.San Francisco Ca: Chronicle Books.

Bruno,J.N. (2012). “Tectonic Stress and the Seismic Shear Waves fromEarthquakes”. Journalof Geophysical Research,77(26),4990-4999.

Cross,I &amp Ira, T. (2011). Financingan Empire. Chicago:SS, Clarke Publishing Co.

Charlton,E.P. (2015). SanFrancisco, before and after the earthquake.San Francisco: Calif

Dacy,Douglas &amp Howard, K. (2016). TheEconomic of Natural Disaster.New York: The Free Press.

Kuge,K., &amp Kawakatsu, H. (2013). Deep and intermediate-depthnon-double-couple earthquakes: interpretation of moment tensorinversions using various passbands of very broadband seismic data.GeophysicalJournal International, 111 (3),588-601.

Mann,A. (2012). 2010: The year in which .. Nature,468(7327).