Natural disasters wreak havoc for North and South Americans
A series of natural disasters has heavily impacted the Western Hemisphere during the last few weeks.
The first occurred at the end of August. Hurricane Harvey, which started as a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, had become a Category 4 hurricane by the time it made landfall in South Texas. It ravaged much of that region, including the city of Houston. 46 people died, and 32,000 were displaced in the deluge that followed. The city was drowning in 52 inches of water by the time Harvey had run its course.
Following closely behind this devastating event came three more hurricanes: Irma, Maria, and Jose. Irma was expected to hit South Florida with Category 5 winds, a level heretofore unprecedented in United States history. The full strength of its winds ripped through the Caribbean, damaging in particular the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, where 90 percent of the buildings were destroyed. When it arrived on land, it was Category 4 and steadily decreased to Category 2, but had enough power to provoke 6.5 million Floridians to evacuate. Houses were destroyed and neighborhoods were flooded as it passed over the state. Its inhabitants were subjected to 37 hours of high winds, which sometimes reached speeds as powerful as 185 mph. Irma claimed the lives of 27 people.
Jose grazed the East Coast, and took a long path through the Atlantic, but never truly became a powerfully threatening hurricane. Maria, on the other hand, forged a path of destruction through the Caribbean, and may hit the Eastern Seaboard in the middle of this week. Puerto Rico was particularly affected. The entire island was without power when the hurricane swept through on the Wednesday, Sept. 20, and most of its buildings were damaged or completely destroyed by the massive floods and 115 mph winds which the hurricane brought with it. The resident commissioner of the island territory said that the damage from the hurricane “set us back nearly 20 to 30 years.”
Pundits in many major news outlets have been calling for President Trump to acknowledge the role climate change had in producing these disasters, but so far the administration has been silent on this topic.
Simultaneously with these storms has been an increase in tectonic plate activity. Mexico in particular has been affected by this. The city of Ayutla was hit with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 20, and the city of Matias Romero experienced a 6.1 magnitude earthquake on Saturday, Sept. 23. Although several major events are now passed, there may be more meteorological and geological gauntlets for North and South Americans before the year is out.