The Wikipedia defines the term disaster quite nicely:
"A disaster is a natural or man-made event that negatively affects
life, property, livelihood or industry often resulting in permanent
changes to human societies, ecosystems and environment."
As the definition suggests, disasters are highly disruptive events that
cause suffering, deprivation, hardship, injury and even death, as a
result of direct injury, disease, the interruption of commerce and business, and the partial or
total destruction of critical infrastructure such as homes, hospitals,
and other buildings, roads, bridges, power lines, etc. Disasters can be
caused by naturally occurring events, such as earthquakes, hurricanes,
flooding, or tornadoes, or they can be due to man-made events, either
accidental (such as an accidental toxic spill or nuclear power plant
event), or deliberately caused (such as various terrorist bombings and
Certain types of natural disasters are more likely to occur in
particular parts of the world. For instance, areas near coastline,
lakes or rivers are more likely to experience flooding problems than
are land-locked areas. However, most every place you could live is
prone to one type of natural disaster or another. No place is
absolutely safe from natural disaster. And, of course it goes without
saying, that no place is safe from the threat of terrorism and other
man-made disaster events.
It may be impossible to avoid disasters, but it isn't impossible to
plan ahead of time so as to minimize the impact that any given disaster
might have on you or your family's health, safety and property. There
are steps you can take ahead of time, including, purchasing the proper
types of insurance, preparing a disaster kit and supplies, making a
disaster plan and rehearsing it with your family, and staying informed
so that you can do your best to get out of the way of predictable
dangerous occurrences, that can help you, your family, and your
property stay as safe as possible.
The following documents describe various types of disasters that can
occur, and outline the important steps to take to prepare for their
occurrence. Please read on ...