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The most severe natural disaster ever recorded!

Catherine Botros

on 31 October 2013

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photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
Natural Disaster in 1970
What Is A Cyclone?
Account of the Great Bhola Cyclone:
Let me start from the beginning on how this all began. The Great Bhola Cyclone started forming on November 11th, 1970 in the Bay of Bengal. Once the Great Bhola Cyclone started to develop, it travelled north with rapid wind speeds up to 185 km/h and hit eastern Pakistan which is now Bangladesh. Since cyclones hit that area of the world at a certain particular time of year, people have even made its own season to prepare. When the cyclone hit land it was known as the 6th cyclonic storm of the 1970 North Indian Ocean Cyclone season. As the Great Bhola Cyclone hits land, its storm surge was around 33 feet high. The worst part is that it struck land especially when the Ganges Delta (body of water close to shore) was already at high tide. Although after a few days, the Great Bhola Cyclone started to weaken and finally stopped leaving plenty of destruction.This cyclone was a category 3 on the severity scale.
What Caused It?
Cyclones, Cyclones, Cyclones. What a severe natural disaster…don’t you think? Destruction, lack of water, crops blown away. It’s what it takes to be a natural disaster. Although the Great Bhola Cyclone went way and beyond what was expected making this cyclone the most deadly in modern history.
The Great Bhola Cyclone
Cyclones are huge storms with massive winds. They usually occur when blowing around an area of low atmospheric pressure. There are more names to cyclones. It depends on which location they occur in. They can be called hurricanes or typhoons. If a cyclone occurs in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean or the South Pacific Ocean, it’ll be called a hurricane. If a cyclone occurs in the Northwest Pacific Ocean it’ll be called a typhoon. If a cyclone occurs in the Southwest Pacific Ocean or Southeast Indian Ocean it’ll stay known as a cyclone just like the Great Bhola Cyclone. A Cyclone's winds usually travel in a clockwise circle. Cyclones develop and begin to form over warm seas near the equator and then begin to make their way to land. But in order for a cyclone to form, sea temperatures must be at least 26 degrees C. Cyclones can be as 2000 km across with wind speeds up to 280 km/h and can travel for thousands of km. The center of a cyclone is called an eye. The eye is calm, there is no rain, and winds are fairly light.
Well, no one really knows what was behind the Great Bhola Cyclone. That’s why it’s a natural disaster because it just happens naturally without a main cause. Although it does have to do something with the area being at low atmospheric pressure. When the Great Bhola cyclone started forming the sea temperature was just perfect, ready for a new coming tropical cyclone. As it started to develop, the remnants of Tropical storm Nora (another storm) which had broiled in the South China Sea moved over the Malay Peninsula and joined a depression in the Bay of Bengal, helping to intensify the depression into a cyclone. Afterwards, the cyclone started to strengthen as its wind speeds started to rise and soon enough, it made its way to land.
The Great Bhola Cyclone about to hit land.
Preperation/Warning Zone
There was not much people would have been able to have done during this natural disaster. The behaviors of cyclones have been increasing and not many people have been able to have survived while protecting all their homes. Usually, people have always kept track of severe weather conditions. Although very few people in eastern Pakistan were alert of the incoming Great Bhola Cyclone and were able to evacuate. But, the majority were unaware of this cyclone and sadly, ended up losing their lives. After this cyclone, people are more aware and now making a plan in case this happens again. This is called the “Get A Plan” guide. This guide has all the instructions a family needs in order to survive. First, a person/family must realize their risk for cyclone impacts. Then, an appropriate disaster safety plan should be developed to ensure an individual and a family’s safety. This guide is meant to identify all of the steps a family needs to take before, during and after a disaster to ensure the maximum personal safety and property protection. People also sell a Safety/Emergency kit. It is meant to provide tools and an instruction guide for how to survive through a particular disaster. Through the future, more tools and gadgets are going to be used to know ahead of time about any severe weather conditions that will come towards them.
The Cyclone Kit
The Damage It Caused
The Great Bhola Cyclone had caused such a massive amount of damage. It was the only reason why this cyclone was considered the most deadly in modern history which was because of all the damage and deaths it caused. Nearly everything you can think of was damaged. Some damaged things are: damaged homes, crops blown away, buildings collapse, transportation is damaged, water sources are gone, communication systems are gone, toppled trees, bring down power lines and blew vehicles off roads. All this damage added up to be worth $490 million. With this, 1000s of people are left homeless with the government not doing anything about it. Eventually, with the storm surge and flooding, between 300 000-500 000 people have lost their lives.
The Damage of Houses torn apart
What happened after?
After the cyclone hit, countries donated money to help fix the repairs. The United States donated almost 1.3 million dollars, the United Nations donated 2.1 million dollars, and Canada donated around 2 million dollars. The royal navy task support help relief the efforts and brought various resources and supplies. As you can see, this cyclone caused massive damage, killed many people, and caused millions of dollars to repair. This disaster was from a small, insignificant storm, to a destructive cyclone. It was a lot of work although as time had passed, people were able to repair and are ready if this happens again.
Money delivered from all over the wold to help repair damages.
Interesting Facts:
• Approximately 85% of homes in the area were destroyed or severely damaged, with the greatest destruction along the coast.
• The storm surge wiped out villages with the most severely affected area
• Lost over 45% of its population (167,000 people) in the district of Thana alone.
• Nearly 46,000 of the estimated 77,000 fishermen of the region perished in the cyclone
• Approximately 65% of the coastal region’s fishing industry was destroyed
• In the 20th century, seven of the nine most deadly weather events in the world were tropical cyclones that struck Bangladesh.
•The cyclone started to form on November 11th which is also our Canadian Remembrance Day
Travel route of the Great Bhola Cyclone.
How a cyclone forms.
Land in which was hit by the Great Bhola cyclone.
Nov.11: Day when cyclone began to form.
Nov.12: Cyclone travelled north.
Nov.13: Cyclone hits East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Nov.14: Destruction and deaths.
Nov.15: Destruction and deaths.
Nov.16: Destruction and deaths.
Nov.17: Cyclone ceased with massive destruction and deaths.
Nov.18-30: Many countries donated money to repair all destruction.
After Nov.30: People are now more aware of new-coming cyclones.
Timeline is based on the year of 1970.
Now you understand what I mean about cyclones. All it does is just death and destruction. Now that you know a little about this cyclone, the next time you hear the word “Cyclone” you will surely remember of the Great Bhola.
Throughout this project I have many resources including:
Some of the main sources I used were:
1. http://www.hurricanescience.org/history/storms/1970s/greatbhola/

1.Newson, Lesley Devastation! The World's Worst Natural Disasters Calgary: DK Publishing, Ltd, 1998
1.On youtube "The Great Bhola Cyclone"
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