My hometown is Port Matilda, Pennsylvania which is 25 minutes outside of State College. Located in central Pennsylvania, which falls in the northeastern corner of the US, Port Matilda is generally not very susceptible to most natural disasters. We are far away from any area that could be affected by a volcano. Port Matilda falls in zone 0 for earthquakes, having only one mild earthquake I can remember experiencing in my lifetime. We also fall in zone 0 for Tropical Cyclones, and are not categorized as being at risk of a tsunami or iceberg drift. We fall in zone 2 for hailstorms, zone 1 for extratropical (winter) storms, zone 2 for tornadoes, and zone 1 for wildfires. I believe the NATHAN map is very accurate as my town and most of Pennsylvania do not experience high levels of extreme weather or disaster of any form.
On March 31st, 2016 at 6:36 AM, a volcanic eruption occurred in Puebla, Mexico. While no people have been reported to be dead, and the damage level is unknown, I am certain that a disaster of this kind would have wreaked havoc on Port Matilda. I live in an incredibly small town with only 600 people populating it, and as the houses and buildings are set up almost side to side, a volcanic eruption would likely have wiped us out. The volcanic eruption reached heights of over 11,000 feet or almost 2 miles. A disaster of this size would easily wipe out all of my small town, which makes up approximately .6 square miles. Puebla, Mexico is made up of 281 square miles. An eruption of this size would only affect less than .01% of the town as a whole, while it would destroy 100% of my town as well as the surrounding areas. While my town would be incredibly vulnerable in the event of a volcanic eruption in my area, it is not realistic to say that we are currently vulnerable as there are no volcanoes near us, and it is impossible that we might be struck by a disaster of this kind. A volcanic eruption would have disastrous effects on the people of Port Matilda, as we have never experienced a disaster even slightly similar to this. We are in no way prepared for the types of mass damage that could be caused by a natural disaster of this kind, and therefore it would have detrimental effects on the health and well-being of people living here.
In researching the potential risk for natural hazards in Port Matilda, I came up very little as it falls in an area that is not overly susceptible to most natural disasters. We are at a very low risk for hail storms and tornadoes, and are most often susceptible to wind, thunderstorms, flooding and ice storms. Most notably, Port Matilda falls in a red zone for Radon exposure meaning that we are at the highest level of potential exposure, with radon screening levels falling above 4. This is very hazardous to the health of our residents. (Centre County)
Centre County, PA Radon Risk and Information. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://www.homefacts.com/radon/Pennsylvania/Centre-County.html
Most of the hazards that face my town are not within our control, however we can work to be prepared for such situations. My high school was incredibly susceptible to flooding as our north building was built at the bottom of a slope down from the south building. Any time it rained heavily, the parking lot would flood to the height of student’s shins, causing a lot of problems for drivers and students crossing the street. Radon is a more pressing current issue, but I am not familiar with the process of radon exposure prevention and protection. I believe it is important to make people aware of the radon levels within their homes and encourage procedures for safe living and minimal exposure to protect health of residents.