Natural disasters are devastating. People lose their possessions, their homes, and even their whole livelihoods. It can be hard to see the silver lining when all we see on television are the dilapidated remains of neighborhoods.
Hurricane season is upon us, and, only halfway through the season, we have had thirteen named storms. Since 1995, only four other seasons have had that many. Experts are expecting more storms this season, putting 2017 high on the list of most active years for Atlantic hurricanes. Within a month, two Category 4 and two Category 5 storms have developed, and three major hurricanes – Jose, Irma, and Maria – have passed through the same region in three weeks. The affected northern Leeward Island haven’t even seen two major hurricanes in the same season since 1899.
In late August Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas, and in early September Hurricane Irma hit Florida. AccuWeather estimated the two storms may have caused a combined $290 billion in damage, double the $143.5 billion caused by Hurricane Katrina and three other major hurricanes in 2005.
Right now, Florida and Texas are in ruins. Homes have been ripped off their foundations and families are displaced. It’s only logical that communities have been ripped apart, except they haven’t been. It is in natural disasters like this that people come together and face the tragedy untied.
Amid the torrential downpours and winds, people banded together. Those of all different skin tones, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds linked hands to form human chains and help survivors out of the flood waters. Business owners opened their stores to be used as shelters. Hairstylists visited shelters and offered free haircuts. Private boat owners came together and formed the “Cajun navy.” Over 750 different civilian boats and 1500 volunteers went in the floodwaters to rescue flood survivors, especially the elderly in nursing homes.
Volunteers were eager to help with aftermath. Nuns wielded chainsaws and Girl Scouts collected food cans. Parishes and schools, like IHA, collected gift-cards for the victims. Even Mexico, despite all the current tensions with the United States, sent its Red Cross with food, supplies, and generators to aid its northern neighbor.
In trying times like this, our differences don’t matter. Neighbors don’t discriminate during disasters, but instead come together and help those in need. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, there were no Christians or Muslims, no blacks or whites, only people. There were people who suffered through the disaster and people who wanted to help. This banding together demonstrates what humanity is all about: we are meant to care for those of us in need. So, while it is devastating to see all the destruction, it also hopeful to see how people put their differences aside and come together during this intense hurricane season. I know experts predict more storms, maybe even more than the current naming system can handle, but I also know that for every storm there will be a group of people ready to offer a helping hand. So, as we brace the second half of the 2017 season, and we prepare for more destruction, I have hope that no matter how terrible the storms are, we will come out of it united and strong.
By: Heather Farrell’18, Executive Editor-in-Chief