Sep 13, 2017

The lesser-known side effects of natural disasters

A despondent Mariela Leon sits in front of her flood damaged home after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in Isabela de Sagua, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP

There are a number of side effects of a disaster like Hurricane Harvey or Irma that last long after the cameras leave.

Here are some of the lesser-known side effects:

  • Disaster fraud: Between fake charity donation sites being established to collect money, false insurance claims, and price fixing, natural disasters give way to billions of dollars lost in fraudulent activities, per the Economist.
  • Domestic abuse spikes: The New York Times reports that domestic violence victims can become "particularly vulnerable" after a disaster due to disconnected domestic violence hotlines and being cut off from people who had been helping them (like friends or neighbors). Additionally, the financial assistance given after the disaster could be controlled by the abuser.
  • Child abuse and neglect: The World Health Organization reported that traumatic brain injuries in children under two were five times higher in counties affected by Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina than children in counties less affected or not affected at all.
  • Exploitation: W.H.O. also reports that human trafficking can increase after a disaster due to decreased employment options for women and large numbers of unaccompanied children.
  • Mental health deterioration: U.S. News reported in 2014 that mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are "rampant" among survivors of several natural disasters. This isn't usually prevalent until after the shock of the event wears off.
  • Health services: Aside from the physical impact disasters may have on hospitals and other health services buildings, health professionals may relocate after a disaster, resulting in fewer resources and "a scarcity of health services," per U.S. News.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 1,273,990 — Total deaths: 69,444 — Total recoveries: 260,247Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 337,310 — Total deaths: 9,634 — Total recoveries: 17,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community,at the Capitol in October. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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