English for Talking about Natural Disasters

A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard which leads to financial, environmental or human losses.

What’s the worst natural disaster in your opinion?

‘Floods’ are opposite to ‘droughts’. A drought happens when there has been no rain for a long time. The land becomes too dry and it is impossible to grow any plants.

A ‘drought’ may result in a famine where there is not enough food for people and they start to starve (die from not eating).

A ‘tornado’ (or ‘twister’), is a very large column of wind that spins around quickly.

A ‘hurricane’ (Atlantic Ocean), ‘typhoon’ (Pacific Ocean) or ‘tropical storm’ (Indian Ocean) is an intense thunderstorm which usually occurs in late summer. They result in strong winds and heavy rain.

‘Volcanic eruptions’ send red hot lava flowing. Lava is a type of liquid rock called magma.

‘Earthquakes’ occur when pressure is suddenly released which causes the ground to move and shake violently. If the earth quakes beneath water then the shock wave which reaches beaches and dry land causes huge waves travelling at high speed called ‘tsunamis’.

A ‘landslide’ happens when rocks and earth are water-laden from lots of rain and slide down. This is different to an ‘avalanche’ which is the large movement of snow down a mountain. The snow becomes too loose and slides down, mixing with air and water.

Have you prepared for a natural disaster?

Many countries use early warning systems and school children will ‘drill’ disaster response by climbing under desks, standing in doorways or lying in bathtubs. Most people living in disaster-prone areas will keep non-perishable foods and bottled water.

Are there often natural disasters in your country?

The main problem with natural disasters is the aftermath: the risk of disease from dirty water, the difficulty in getting to sick or injured people and the economic impact of reconstruction and lost capacity; not to mention the death toll!

Today, technology allows us to provide donations and aid to disaster struck regions. Survivors are found by relief workers, rescuers and volunteers.

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