Jun 6, 2014, 11:24 AM, Posted by Beth Toner
Ah, springtime: especially welcome for those of us who experienced a particularly harsh winter. Spring often conjures up images of blossoming trees and blue skies, freshly cut grass and picnics.
Yet in May, several anniversaries of devastating natural disasters reminded us that springtime can also bring with it some of nature’s most violent weather phenomena:
- On May 20, Moore, Okla., marked the first anniversary of the devastating tornado that killed 24, including seven children at an elementary school. It was the second EF-5 tornado to strike the city in 15 years; the May 3, 1999, tornado left 46 dead.
- In Joplin, Mo., residents remembered the May 22, 2011, EF-5 tornado that killed 161 people.
- On May 31, Johnstown, Pa,., observed the 125th anniversary of the devastating flood that leveled the entire city and killed 2,209.
While improved warning systems and 21st century technology have certainly played a role in reducing the number of lives Mother Nature’s temper tantrums claim, the fact remains that these events have a substantial impact on our health as a nation.
We recently talked to Paul Kuehnert, director, Bridging Health and Health Care portfolio—as well as a pediatric nurse practitioner and longtime state and local health official—to get his thoughts about the role public health plays in helping us prepare for, cope with, and learn from natural disasters.