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Disaster Experience

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

Worldwide, more than 700 disasters occur each year, impacting many people. However, for the individual caught up in a disaster, whether as a victim, survivor, bystander, or emergency responder, the experience is usually unique, or at least sufficiently exceptional to constitute a milestone in that person's life. Surviving a disaster is a formative matter: it changes a person's perceptions and priorities. It often leads an individual to embark on new directions in personal development. For people who are less fortunate, it may mean disablement or long periods of psychological impairment.

Negative Outcomes and Perceptions

Survivors experience disaster in different ways. They may suffer physical injury, bereavement, material loss, temporary or permanent displacement, unemployment, psychological impairment, or some combination of these ills. Witnesses and emergency responders are just ...

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