Hurricane Season Blows Across USA’s East Coast

This year’s hurricane season has been more devastating than ever before. Out of the ten hurricanes in a row, which hasn’t happened since 1893, there have been five major hurricanes and three Category 4 hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and with its catastrophic flooding, it is now the wettest tropical storm on record in the United States. Hurricane Harvey affected residents in Texas and Louisiana, causing their governors to declare a state of emergency and for residents to evacuate. The Caribbean, Latin America, Barbados, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines island chain were all hit by Hurricane Harvey, causing a loss of electricity, extreme winds, and flooding. Countries in South America such as Suriname and Guyana faced strong winds and heavy rainfall, causing the collapse of buildings and the ripping off of roofs.

Hurricane Irma, a powerful Cape Verde hurricane, dominated the northeastern area of the Caribbean and the Florida Keys. Wind speeds reached 185 mph and many Florida residents evacuated or boarded up their homes, losing electricity and dealing with rain and flooding. The hurricane caused at least 134 deaths, and FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, struggled to obtain the minimum amount of funding needed to cover the damages of Hurricane Irma’s blows. Hurricane Irma was so destructive that it effectively wiped out the island of Barbuda, destroying buildings and infrastructure. Two weeks after Irma, which came one week after Harvey, Hurricane Maria powered through the northeastern area of the Caribbean. With the area still struggling in the aftermath of Irma, Maria caused further distress and overwhelmed the residents of Puerto Rico and Dominica. Puerto Rico is still recovering from the hurricane, three weeks later, with only 16% of all residents having electricity. Many are preparing for the case that they will be months without power. About half of Puerto Ricans lack cellphone service, and without power or cell service, the island is isolated from medical care and aid groups. Water treatment plants were damaged, with only 60% currently functioning, leaving 37% of residents without clean drinking water. In the wake of the hurricanes, the US, Caribbean, and Latin America are left picking up the pieces of their societies, and it is hard to tell how long it will take to recover.

The increase in hurricane severity this season can’t help but make Americans question whether climate change is to be blamed for the increase in devastation. A majority of Americans believe that climate change has caused an increase in the severity of hurricanes, and according to National Geographic, increases in intense rainfall are likely to have been caused by human activity. With Harvey, Irma, and Maria’s damages totaling between 345 and 475 billion dollars, the world must take further precautions against natural disasters and global warming as the worst is yet to come.

– Madison Lin ’19

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