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Learning from Past Disasters

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Memory and awareness raising are essential in keeping the risk at the forefront of our minds.  Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction

These collections explore the lessons learned from past disasters, what were the risk drivers, impacts and efforts towards building back better.

Australia: Black Saturday bushfires 2009

On Saturday, February 7, 2009, a series of bushfires blazed across the state of Victoria, killing several dozen people and amounting to billions of dollars in damages. Black Saturday is remembered as one of Australia's worst bushfires.

Australia floods 2010-2011 

In 2010 and 2011, a series of floods hit Queensland, Australia, and affected approximately 90 towns, leading to major economic losses.

Australia: Bushfire season 2019–20

The 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season proved to be unprecedented in many ways. Beginning before the official arrival of spring, in June, and worsening significantly from Sept. 2019 on to mid-January 2020.

Chernobyl disaster 1986

The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident of the 20th century. 

Cyclone Idai 2019

Cyclone Idai made landfall in March 2019 and is remembered as one of the worst tropical cyclones to impact the Southern Hemisphere and Africa. A humanitarian crisis occurred in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi after Idai caused enormous damage.

Indonesia: Sulawesi tsunami 2018

In September 2018, a tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, causing widespread damage, especially to the city of Palu.

India: Kerala floods

In August 2018, severe floods affected Kerala, a south Indian state, following unusually heavy rainfall during the monsoon season.

California wildfires 2017-2018

Massive wildfires spread throughout California in 2017 and 2018, burning down homes and even destroying the town of Paradise. 

Mexico earthquake 2017

On 19 September, a powerful earthquake struck Puebla, Morelos and the Greater Mexico City area. The event happened only hours after a disaster drill in commemoration of an earthquake that rocked Mexico City exactly 32 years before.

Hurricane Mitch 1998

Hurricane Mitch is widely remembered as one of the most destructive hurricanes to strike Central America, in no small part because it caused widespread homelessness in Honduras.

Hurricane Katrina 2005

Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States and is widely remembered as one of the country's most consequential disasters. 

Hurricane Sandy 2012 

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Cuba and swept through the United States east coast, causing critical destruction. 

Hurricane Maria 2017  

Hurricane Maria led to catastrophe in Puerto Rico and notably initiated a well-publicised death count debate. 

Hurricane Irma 2017

Hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean and the Atlantic United States, resulting in over $50 billion worth of losses and dozens of deaths.

Hurricane Harvey 2017  

Hurricane Harvey yielded extensive damage across the Southern United States, especially Texas. 

Atlantic hurricanes 2017 

For several months in 2017, many Atlantic hurricanes had devastating economic and social consequences across the United States and the Caribbean.

Hurricane Florence 2018

Hurricane Florence triggered intense destruction in the American states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, with losses of several billion dollars.

Sierra Leone mudslide 2017 

In August 2017, a massive mudslide in Freetown, Sierra Leone, resulted in many deaths while demolishing homes and communities. 

Canada: Fort McMurray wildfire 2016

In May 2016, a wildfire swept through Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, ruining thousands of homes and buildings, and causing tens of thousands of people to evacuate. 

South Africa drought 2015-2018 

Between 2015 and 2018, South Africa experienced an ongoing drought, with fears that officials would declare Day Zero and completely shut off water in Cape Town. 

Nepal earthquake 2015  

An earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015, affecting thousands of people and marking the country's worst earthquake since 1934. 

El Niño 2015-2016

The 2015–16 El Niño was one of the strongest El Niño events since 1950, with wide-ranging effects felt around the world. 

India-Pakistan floods 2014

In September 2014, intense flooding in India's Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Punjab in Pakistan, killed hundreds, caused tens of thousands of people to be evacuated, and affected over 2,000 villages. 

India: Gujarat earthquake 2001

In January 2001, a strong earthquake impacted the Kutch District of Gujarat, killing thousands, injuring over 100,000, and destroying over 300,000 homes.

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) 2013 

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated the Philippines, killing thousands and yielding unprecedented wreckage.

Horn of Africa drought and famine 2011  

In July 2011, widespread drought in the Horn of Africa instigated a severe food crisis, affecting millions of people. 

Japan: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster 2011

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and generated three meltdowns, marking the biggest nuclear incident since the Chernobyl Disaster.

Japan: Kobe earthquake 1995

In January 1995, a massive earthquake struck Hanshin and brought about drastic damage, especially in Kobe. The earthquake is remembered as one of the worst in Japan during the 20th century.

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami 2011

The Japan earthquake and tsunami prompted extensive damage, including the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

New Zealand: Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes 2010-2011

A strong earthquake in Canterbury, New Zealand, triggered a series of aftershocks, including an earthquake that resulted in multiple deaths in Christchurch. 

Pakistan floods 2010-2011

In July 2010, heavy monsoon rains affected millions of people by submerging approximately one-fifth of Pakistan's land area. 

Haiti earthquake 2010

In January 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, impacting millions of people and generating multiple aftershocks. 

Italy: L’Aquila earthquake 2009 

An earthquake hit central Italy in April 2009 and ravaged l'Aquila, a nearby town, by killing hundreds and destroying monuments from the Middle Ages.

Kashmir earthquake 2005

Millions of people were displaced and left homeless after an earthquake struck the Pakistan-administered areas of Kashmir in October 2005.

Indian Ocean tsunami disaster 2004

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami is remembered as one of the worst disasters in the world because of its extremely high casualties. 

India: Gujarat earthquake 2001

In January 2001, a strong earthquake impacted the Kutch District of Gujarat, killing thousands, injuring over 100,000, and destroying over 300,000 homes.

Turkey: Izmit earthquake 1999

In August 1999, an earthquake in the city of Izmit killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

USA: Texas coldwave 2021

In February 2021, Storm Uri provoked cascading effects on critical infrastructure freezing grids and pipes in the US state of Texas, raising questions on systemic risk and preparedness to future extremes.