Catastrophe: An event of such impact upon a community that new organizations must be created in order to deal with the situation. (Quarantelli 1987, 25)
Catastrophe: “…for a given society might be defined as an event leading to 500 deaths or $10 million in damages. These figures, however, are arbitrary since levels of impact mean different things to different people in different situations. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the element of scale. It would be a catastrophe for a small community if every building were totally destroyed by flooding (as occurred in 1993 in Valmeyer, Illinois), but at the global scale, it would be an insignificant event if only 350 houses were involved…Similarly, $10 million in damage to some communities would be devastating…, especially in less wealthy societies, but others would be able to cope relatively easily” (Tobin and Montz 1997, 7).
“…a catastrophe not only disrupts society, but may cause a total breakdown in day-to-day functioning. One aspect of catastrophes, is that most community functions disappear; there is no immediate leadership, hospitals may be damaged or destroyed, and the damage may be so great and so extensive that survivors have nowhere to turn for help (Quarantelli, 1994).1In disaster situations, it is not unusual for survivors to seek help from friends and neighbors, but this cannot happen in catastrophes. In a disaster, society continues to operate and it is common to see scheduled events continue…” Tobin and Montz 1997, 31).