Reducing Risk

Phases of a Disaster

Many specialists in disaster management have consistently made efforts to classify the time periods of a disaster. The standard classification used includes the following phases

1. Pre-Disaster

2. Warning

3. Emergency

4. Rehabilitation

5. Recovery

6. Reconstruction

These phases are ordinarily used by agencies to describe actions and activities. They are artificial and can be easily exaggerated. After most isasters, three phases can be identified according to what actually happens in the affected community. These include

1. The Emergency phase

2. The Transitional phase (or Rehabilitation phase)

3. The Reconstruction phase.

The emergency phase is characterized by taking actions that are necessary to save lives. They include search and rescue, first-aid, emergency medical assistance, restoration of emergency communication and transportation networks, and in some cases, evacuation from areas still vulnerable to further disaster. Other actions taken during the emergency phase include initial disaster assessment and emergency repairs to critical facilities.

In the transitional phase, people return to work, permanent repairs of infrastructure and damaged buildings is undertaken, and other actions necessary to help the community return to normalcy, in the earliest possible time, are taken. This phase coincides with the period in which emotional recovery normally occurs. This period is the most difficult for the victims. During this time, depression may set in as people finally realise the full extent of losses. Limited outside intervention during this phase can be of great assistance in helping victims recover. Assistance in the form of cash or credit, activities that create jobs and constructive projects are among the more appropriate types of aid.

The reconstruction phase is characterized by the physical recovery of the community and recovery of the environment. During this period, people reconstruct houses and other buildings, repair roads and other community facilities and agriculture returns to normalcy.

The time span is very difficult to define. It may start fairly early, even during the recovery period and may last for many years. The reconstruction of houses, in particular, is an activity that takes many years to complete.


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