Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/ADRA/Disaster Response

Disaster Response
General Conference
See also Disaster Response - Advanced
Skill Level 1
Year of Introduction: 2005

1. Explain the type of damage most likely to occur to homes, individuals, and communities for each of the following major types of disaster, and indicate for each in which parts of the world does it occur most frequently


a. Hurricane/Typhoon


Damage: These storms bring with them tidal surges that cause flooding, devastating winds, rain, hail, lightning and damage they cause often spark fires, toxic leaks, and electrical hazards. Occasionally they spin off tornados, and massive inland thunderstorms. As a result people are killed in large numbers when not evacuated, homes are destroyed, water contaminated and responses delayed as a result of the ongoing storm. These storms have destroyed economies in history and have the record for most costly to recover from for nations affected.

Effects: Have been known to affect the coastal regions of every inhabited continent and virtually every island on Earth. Primarily affecting the Eastern Coasts of the Eastern Hemisphere, The Western Coast of Central America and Mexico, and the Caribbean and South and East Coasts of the USA.

b. Tornado


These events are most frequently related to large storm systems although small tornados have been formed on clear days. Often, the smallest such funnels called "Dust Devils" form during the dry summer months in the Sonoran Desert. Large tornados are subject to higher wind speeds than many hurricanes but contained in tighter funnels, they obliterate structures that they meet head on and often cause roof separations, siding separations and other damage to structures outside their central path. Massive deaths may occur when these storms reach populated areas as they are unpredictable by current technology. Therefore, warning times are short and few people can reach safety. These storms have been known to rip the pavement from roads and massive trees from the ground with their roots. They shower debris at the outer most points of their reach sometimes miles away causing even more damage.

Effects: Largely inland plains areas such as the Great Plains of the United States. This is believed to be as a result of the low friction for storm systems that move through the areas and their violent collision with systems of variant tempurature or pressure. Tornados occur outside the plains as well, more frequently in hotter climates (such as the southern US), and less frequently (and less intensely) in cooler climes (such as the northeastern US).

c. Floods


All floods have this in common: if they are big enough and fast they will move absolutely everything in their path. No force seems to be more able to move even the surface of the Earth itself as dramatically as flooding. Small floods may ruin walls and flooring in houses and contaminate water supplies, while large fast floods will simply erase the earth they cover. As in any large disaster in which people are not or can not be evacuated, deaths are large in number. For those who survive they will become refugees needing all assistance from neighboring communities or even nations just to survive.

No part of the Earth has been unaffected by floods. Even those who argue that the Biblical account of the Genesis flood did not happen must acknowledge evidence of flooding at even the highest points of Earth that geologist have studied. Most flooding occurs near rivers and coastal regions or along mountains - the reasons are apparent. Rivers and mountainsides (as well as deserts) are subject to flash floods. These sudden and violent events often occur as a result of storms that are massive and may be miles from the flooding. Lakes, seas, and oceans are most commonly subject to tidal surges caused by storms moving across the surface, and their force pushing the water level under them down (therefore out) causing coastal flooding. These same large bodies of water can be subject to Tsunami as well. This, most commonly caused by earthquakes, will be briefly preluded by tidal retraction. This retraction may be drastic and measuralable in kilometers or even miles, but when the tide returns it will be FAST, sudden, and high. Tsunamis do not look like breaking waves but rather tidal surges, and they may rise dozens or even hundreds of feet beyond the normal tide.

d. Earthquake


These disasters have large variance. Some may be of little effect to anyone because of their location, and others may leave entire metroplexes a burning ruin. Today those areas of the industrialized world most effected by earthquakes have developed technologies to help limit structural damage during such an event and science is also working on better warning systems and predictions for major events. This can be done in theory because we have some marginal grasp that the world is made up of floating plates and they rub on one another building and releasing pressure. As is so often the case, fire and contamination are a problem, as well as mass deaths for unevacuated people. The cost for industrialized cities to recover can be billions. For those areas that do not have the benefit of an industrial economy, the death tolls are hard to relate to others, and all buildings are often lost in the affected area as they are made from clay or cement or wood with no benefit of industrial engineering.

Effects: There are a large number of plates in the world and where any two meet (and spurs near them) there are fault lines. These meeting points release pressure built up by movement that we call earthquakes. Most are minor and hardly felt beyond the fault itself. Others can cause very strong quakes felt hundreds of miles of away, even causing damage a hundred or more miles away. They may also trigger volcanic eruptions and Tsunami.

*Volcanic eruptions being excluded from the requirements, I will choose to point out that these can be more devastating than anything modern man has known. A single eruption buried two major Roman cities within hours: Pompei and Herculiam. A volcanic eruption (by the will of God) that occurred in the Mediterranean not only left behind a large island sea but may have been the trigger that God provided to bring the plagues to Egypt (some scientist of Christian nature argue this to be accurate other say it happened too early for the Exodus). Volcanic eruptions can release various gases that kill thousands - such as happened in Camaroon in 1984 and 1986. They can cause hail storms to occur while still-burning magma is falling, and have cast dense darkness about large areas (some science indicates that certain eruptions - like the Vesuvius eruption that buried Pompei - can cast total darkness for several days over hundreds of miles of the earth). Sometimes major eruptions can partially darken the sky for years, causing crops to fail for lack of sufficient sunshine.

Some historians have hypothesized that the eruption of Krakatoa in A.D. 535 caused climate changes. These climate changes may have contributed to various developments, such as the emergence of the Plague of Justinian, the migration of Mongolian tribes towards the West, the end of the Persian empire, the rise of Islam and the end of various civilizations in Central and South America. PBS based a documentary, Catastrophe!, on these ideas, which though plausible, are not widely accepted at this point.

e. Tsunami


A tsunami is a series of water waves that is caused when a large volume of a body of water, such as an ocean, is rapidly displaced. The Japanese term is literally translated into "harbor wave."

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (detonations of nuclear devices at sea), landslides and other mass movements, bolide impacts, and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami. Due to the immense volumes of water and energy involved, the effects of tsunamis can be devastating.

Tsunami's affect coastal areas, especially those with the potential for earthquake activity.

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred on December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The sudden vertical rise of the seabed by several metres during the earthquake displaced massive volumes of water, resulting in a tsunami that struck the coasts of the Indian Ocean.

Despite a lag of up to several hours between the earthquake and the impact of the tsunami, nearly all of the victims were taken completely by surprise. There were no tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean to detect tsunamis or to warn the general populace living around the ocean. Tsunami detection is not easy because while a tsunami is in deep water it has little height and a network of sensors is needed to detect it. Setting up the communications infrastructure to issue timely warnings is an even bigger problem, particularly in a relatively poor part of the world.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially recorded the toll as 283,100 killed, 14,100 missing, and 1,126,900 people displaced. Measured in lives lost, this is one of the ten worst earthquakes in recorded history, as well as the single worst tsunami in history.

f. WildFires


Although completely devastating to personal property, often loss of life is limited. Wildfires, even in urban areas, may not be predictable but they are fightable and usually time is had to evacuate people living in the affected or about to be affected areas. This disaster, whether it be natural or man made, is the first of the disasters listed in this requirement that we can fight to protect property and life. Forestry practices that allow the periodic burning of undergrowth limit the severity of massive wildfires by reducing the total forest fuel load. It is better to allow periodic small fires to burn, rather than preventing and putting out all forest fires immediately, to prevent massive uncontrolled wildfires. Massive fires destroy almost all living things in the forest, while smaller fires allow many species of vegetation to survive. The National Forest Service is changing its practices to take these facts in account. Unfortunately decades of practice of putting out every forest fire has left many of our forests with an unnaturally large fuel load, that must be either removed by hand, or carefully removed by controlled burns.

Effects: Those areas of Earth that are not frozen and have growing vegetation.

g. War/Civil conflict


Casualties of war are not limited to soldiers killed in combat. Civilian deaths often outnumber military deaths. War causes disruption to everyday life which leads to people fleeing their homes and their livelihoods. This separation for normalcy often causes significant outbreak of disease (mostly from the lack of sanitation).

Property is another casualty of war, with buildings being reduced to rubble and crops being destroyed. Even if the crops are not destroyed directly as a result of the conflict, the risk can be too great for farming.

War is most common in the undeveloped world, but it is certainly not limited to those places. It can occur anywhere.

2. Describe briefly the types of services that are provided to survivors of disasters in your country by ADRA or local emergency responders.


ADRA provides services outside of North America in 120 nations around the globe. Adventist Community Services provides services within North America and Bermuda. Their missions are often parallel in Disaster Response.

In the area of Disaster Response the Adventist organizations provide an important basic need of disaster relief, warehousing and distribution. Adventists are responsible for receiving most of the donated goods sent to an incident, then sorting, warehousing, and distributing them. Large scale distribution is done to fill the needs of the Red Cross, Southern Baptists, Salvation Army, and Second Harvest as well as local food banks and shelters during a response. Small scale distributions to individuals and families are done at satellite distribution centers where families report to obtain those essential items they need such as clothing, hygiene products, and food.

Before this type of system was organized or when it does not function, donated items often went to waste. Because of the slow action of the state of Louisiana and its political subdivisions, truckloads of goods were dropped in fields and streets within hurricane ravaged areas and went to waste. The central collection of goods and their managed distribution is essential to good Disaster Management.

3. Read a newspaper or ADRA news report concerning a recent disaster and discuss what are some important things to keep in mind when responding to a disaster or emergency


The ADRA Presents series of videos includes very good introductions to ACS and disaster resoponse in short video segments. These videos are available through AdventSource .

ADRA news reports and videos can be accessed at

When disaster strikes, it is important to find out what kind of help is needed before taking any other action. During the 9/11 emergency, many people sprang into action giving little thought to the nature of the disaster. As a result, many items were collected that were not useful at all in the response. For instance, tons of used clothing and mounds of bottled water were collected.

Before collecting anything, it is also important to arrange to transport those goods to a warehouse serving the disaster area. Collected goods are of little use until they have been sorted, and this is typically done in a warehouse just outside the disaster zone. In the United States, warehousing is done by ACS. During the response to Hurricane Katrina, many people collected truckloads of items before knowing where they were going to send it. As a result, truck drivers were dispatched with relief goods, but upon arriving, had no idea where to drop it off. Many simply unloaded their trucks in fields or parking lots where the material went to waste. Further complicating the situation, was the fact that gasoline was simply unavailable near the disaster zone, so many of these trucks had no way to get out of the area once they entered.

In the U.S. it is a good idea to call ACS at 1-(800)381-7171 before deciding which course of action you should take. This number is staffed by ACS at Andrews University and serves as an information clearing house. They will be able to tell you exactly what you can do to help.

4. Explain what the letters ADRA stand for and which letter describes ADRA's role as a disaster responder.


ADRA stands for Adventist Development and Relief Agency. Note that the D stands for development, not disaster. The letter that describes ADRA's role as a disaster responder is the R for relief.

5. Describe at least one of these disaster response organizations and how it can work with ADRA during an emergency.


a. Red Cross


The Red Cross provides complete relief services world wide. Recognized as the foremost international aid agency the International Red Cross and Red Crescent operates in every nation on of the world.

b. Adventist Community Services


Within North America, Adventist Community Services supports the mission of the Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies and a goods management, warehousing, and distribution coordinator with contracts with local, state, and national governments. ACS provides to the Red Cross food and clothing that is sent into disaster areas for use in their camps and shelters.

Outside of the operating areas of ACS the Adventist Development and Relief Agency operates in a capacity equal to ACS in disaster, and at times in broader aspects as the first responding agency to a disaster or in redevelopment in the aftermath of a disaster.



United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - United Nations Refugee Agency.

ADRA assists with the distribution of clothing and food for refugees and in some cases manages refugee camps for the United Nations throughout the nations in which it operates. Neighbors of war-torn countries often completely impoverished themselves rely on this organization and others that support refugees, to protect, feed, cloth, educate, house and otherwise tend to those who stream across their borders each day.

d. World Food Programme (WFP)


WFP is the food aid arm of the United Nations system. Food aid is one of the many instruments that can help to promote food security, which is defined as access of all people at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. ¹ The policies governing the use of World Food Programme food aid must be oriented towards the objective of eradicating hunger and poverty. The ultimate objective of food aid should be the elimination of the need for food aid.

Targeted interventions are needed to help to improve the lives of the poorest people - people who, either permanently or during crisis periods, are unable to produce enough food or do not have the resources to otherwise obtain the food that they and their households require for active and healthy lives.

ADRA is an agency that works with the WFP to distribute aid and implement WFP sponsored programs.

6. Explain the role of the government when a disaster occurs and identify the key government agency in your nation that manages emergency response.


In the United States each state has the responsibility to manage major emergencies and disasters. They do so by establishing a state level agency to oversee planning and response while advising local juridictions such as counties and cities on their planning and response. Part of this planning is the development of contracts for response to emergencies with non-government agencies within and outside their state. This will include ADRA and the Red Cross and may include local contractors who will provide equipment on demand, and local charities that may help with refugee shelter or goods management.

If the governor of a state declares an emergency these plans and contracts go into effect. In addition, if that governor makes a formal request of the United States Federal Government for assistance the President may, after reviewing the request, dispatch the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and provide federal funding to help offset the cost of the disaster for the state. The U.S. Federal Government has no jurisdiction to respond to an emergency or to fund its recovery when it occurs off federally controlled lands. Therefore the system requires as a constitutional matter of separation of powers that the state request aid before it can be given. In recent years in the United States a gross failure of a state to act resulted in the deaths and suffering of many of its residents and in blame placed on FEMA where it was not due; for this reason it is deeply important that we understand the emergency management system of our nation and how we can best be of service to it.



Disaster Response Guide from the ADRA or ACS national office

Ministries of Compassion, second edition by Monte Sahlin, AdventSource, Lincoln, Nebraska(1998)