The Big Ones by Lucy Jones
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group: 4/17/18
eBook review copy; 256 pages
The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them)
by Lucy Jones is a highly recommended look at eleven of the world's
greatest natural disasters. Dr. Jones tells the historical and
geological stories of the selected disasters, and what they have
revealed about the population effected. Each disaster covered was the
"Big One"at the time it happened and fundamentally changed the community
and culture in the region. Taken together as a whole, all of these
disasters can provide insight into how fear influences the response to
catastrophes and the reasoning behind those reactions.
The disasters covered are:
Pompeii, Roman Empire, AD 79: A volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius sent
down poisonous gases and heavy ash to bury the Roman city.
Lisbon, Portugal, 1755: On November 1, All Saints Day, An earthquake
occurred with the smallest estimated magnitude being 8.5 and the largest
is 9.0. A tsunami headed up the mouth the Tagus River.
Iceland, 1783: The Laki eruption in 1783-84 resulted in 10,000 deaths,
from the gases and famine. Pastor Jon Steingrimsson should be remembered
for his tireless work in trying to find food for survivors. The gas
emissions effected weather and health across Europe.
States, 1861–62: A devastating flood occurred in the winter of 1861–62, killing
bankrupting the state. A three-hundred-mile stretch of California’s
Central Valley was covered under thirty feet
deep in water.
Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan, 1923: An earthquake of magnitude 7.9 destroyed most of Tokyo and Yokohama
and killed over 140,000 people.
Mississippi, United States, 1927: A flood covered over twenty-six thousand square miles of land had been flooded,
displacing over six hundred thousand people.
Tangshan, China, 1976: July 27, 1976 a magnitude 7.8 struck right on a
fault running right through Tangshan, a city of 1.5 million people.
Ocean, 2004: The magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami hit
the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, on December 26, 2004. The physical
scale of it was unprecedented. The length of the
fault that moved in that earthquake was over nine hundred miles. Wave
heights from the resulting tsunami were 100 ft, 65 ft, to 35 feet and
travel across the ocean, slamming into the coastlines of eleven
New Orleans, Louisiana, United
States, 2005: Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm that stretched some
400 miles across, struck the gulf coast of the United States causing
$100 billion in damages. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced
from their homes while FEMA was slow to react.
L’Aquila, Italy, 2009: An earthquake swarm starts in January and leads
up to the big one, on April 6, when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake tore
L’Aquila apart. The city sat directly on top of a fault and every
building sustained damage and twenty thousand were
Fortune Tohoku, Japan, 2011: On March 11th a magnitude 9 earthquake
occurred offshore, where a fault slipped 250
miles. The resulting tsunami was several times larger than expected,
with waves from 40 to 100 feet high. Waves hit the backup generators at
the Daiichi nuclear power plant and the cooling systems failed for three
reactors, which then overheated and nuclear fuel melted.
The final chapter is based on the likelihood that the San
Andreas fault will slip, resulting in a huge earthquake occurring in
Los Angeles in the future and the ShakeOut program that helps translate
the science of the earthquake into a tangible reality for citizens.
Finally, after empathy, these seven steps are suggested for those
involved in future natural disasters: Educate yourself; Don’t assume
government has you covered; Engage with local leaders; Work with your
community; Remember that disasters are more than the moment at which
they happen; Think for yourself. Dr. Jones includes notes, a
bibliography and illustration credits.
My review copy was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.