Yesterday's post discussed the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic. California's General Corporation law includes a detailed definition of an "emergency" that does not employ either term. Cal. Corp. Code § 207(i)(5).
Nevertheless, an epidemic or a pandemic should qualify as an "emergency" provided it has caused the Governor or President to proclaim a state of emergency. Cal. Corp. Code § 207(i)(5)(D).
Additionally, an epidemic or pandemic would likely constitute a "natural catastrophe", a circumstance listed in Section 207(i)(5).
"Catastrophe" is derived from the Greek words κατά and στρέφω, which may be translated as turning downwards. In Greek tragedy, the catastrophe is the denouement of the play that is preceded in turn by the catastasis (dramatic complication), epitasis (central action) and protasis (introduction). The fifth part of the play was the introduction.
Because of the association with tragic drama, the term took on the meaning of an especially bad event. Although both words share "cata", a cataclysm is literally refers to a epic cleansing such as in the Flood of Gilgamesh. "Clysm" is derived from the Greek word κλύζειν meaning to wash. The word cataclysm is now generally used to refer to an abrupt and dramatic turn of events, usually of a negative import.
*See James Joyce, Ulysses ("It doubles itself in the middle of his life, reflects itself in another, repeats itself, protasis, epitasis, catastasis, catastrophe.").