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History of Disaster Relief, North America

  • By: Marcella Bush Trevino
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

The natural hazards that most often affect North America include hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, droughts, blizzards, fires, and, to a lesser extent, volcanic activity. The United States and Canada are also industrialized countries vulnerable to industrial and nuclear accidents. Early disasters claimed more lives, but had less economic impact. Modern disasters have been largely characterized by reduced death tolls due to better forecasting and prediction capabilities, but increased economic impacts due to industrialization, urbanization, and increased population densities. Throughout most of North America's early history, individuals and often religious-based charities provided disaster relief as well as charitable assistance to individuals. In the 20th century, voluntary relief organizations became more coordinated as populations grew, leading to more disaster vulnerability and larger numbers affected by disasters. Beginning ...

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