What would you do?

Whenever there’s a natural disaster somewhere in the world of a magnitude that causes us in North America to sit back in stunned and appalled shock, one of our first reactions is always, “well thank heavens it’s not here”. Most Canadians live in a world in which natural disasters are minimal. Grass fires, floods, hurricanes, tsunami, earthquakes…. they’re possible, but generally small-scaled and less of an everyday worry.

Now I’ve thought about hurricanes and tsunami, being fairly close to the ocean, but I’ll admit that earthquakes and grass fires rarely enter my consciousness. I’ve heard of them on the news, but I’ve never really taken the time to imagine what it would be like to live with the threat of such events.

So when I read this CBC article about the new Stop Disasters Game that the U.N. has devised to teach people about disasters and preparedness, I was intrigued. I played out the easiest of each scenario and was struck by exactly how little I understand the way in which weather events, the land and the people who shape the land interact.

You get to modify existing terrain in anticipation of a particular disaster. You must also provide housing for a requisite number and ameliorate the existing housing. Schools and community centres must be built and equipped, hotels are often required and you should pay attention to the effect of increasing vegetation of varying sorts. You have a limited budget and a fixed amount of time. What will you do?

Have a look and play a round with it. Remember that the area for which you are responsible extends beyond the screen, so scroll over using the arrows in the corners of the image. When the disaster starts, don’t forget to hit the “evacuate” button!

It was quite an eye opener for me.

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