The final part of a series on our first-hand experience with Hurricane Irma. Previous posts:
The crowd in the cafeteria erupted with an applause.
It was like someone had just scored the winning goal in the World Cup Final.
…We had electricity again!
After a very warm night sleep with no air conditioning, everyone was delighted to see the lights flash on at 7:15 AM this morning.
That wasn’t the only thing we were delighted with…
Unexpectedly, not long before Irma’s eyewall was due to hit us, they announced it had been downgraded to a category 2 hurricane and it was beginning to deviate slightly east of us. Originally it had been set to literally hit us head on (see below), but we were extremely fortunate.
Mind you, a hurricane is still a Hurricane (the most obvious thing I’ll ever say on this blog).
It was intense!
But the shelter was built to withstand a category 5 hurricane, or so I was told.
With Hurricane Irma losing a lot of intensity and deviating slightly East of us, we saw very little damage in North Port, Florida. With a forecasted category 4 or 5 hurricane (130 MPH or more sustained winds), we honestly were not sure if we’d have much of a house left to come home to. But at the very least, I expected flooding and trees down everywhere.
We saw several trees down on our short car journey back to the house and the occasional flooded front garden (yard) — but, all in all, our town appears to be lucky.
Now, I’m totally aware that many places were not so lucky. Millions of people across Florida have lost access to electricity, have seen massive flooding, and people have died in the likes of the Florida Keys, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale. And let’s not forget all of the Carribean islands and Cuba.
As awful as it has been for many places, it does, in fact, appear to be far less catastrophic than it was predicted to be last week.
Some 1,900 people, I was told this morning, stayed in the shelter with us this weekend. An experience I’ll never forget. We met many wonderful people, including Liny — a Phillipino/American lady who was kind enough to help other senior citizens (she used to be a nurse) with medical problems during her stay. She also gave Carly and I a lift home after we left the shelter today!
Kudos to North Port police, the Red Cross and Atwater Elementary School for the terrific work they did to support the community this weekend. What an undertaking!
By the way:
Are we allowed to talk about science now?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief said last week that now is not the time to talk about climate change.
Meteorologist, Eric Holthaus’ response to this was fantastic:
Trump EPA chief on the sinking of the Titanic: Now is not the time to talk about icebergs. https://t.co/Z0ewksu1CU
And as Joe Romm at ThinkProgress writes about speaking openly about natural disasters and climate change,
“if we can’t talk about what’s to come, and what’s driving it, then how can we plan for it? How can we rebuild wisely?”
We have to talk these things while it’s top of mind.
We rely on science to know when and where a natural disaster is due to strike. This allows resources to be allocated, plans to be put into place and countless lives to be saved. And understanding climate change (and actually doing something about it)
Recently, I’ve even heard some typically lucid people even say there’s no link between hurricanes and climate change. Make no mistake, hurricanes are definitely increasing in intensity.
(If you haven’t seen it, watch Merchants of Doubt on how special interest groups use doubt in the tobacco industry, public health and climate change)
Also, there was a fantastic podcast by Sam Harris with Joe Romm (mentioned above) systematically breaking down every climate change myth and bring up some consequences of climate change that I’d never thought about like mass migrations — something like we’ve recently seen with Syrian refugees.
Imagine the crisis we’ll see when South/Central America rises by 3.6 °F (2°C)! There will be more droughts, floods and major agriculture changes to name a few. People will HAVE to migrate North.
I try to avoid politics on my blog, but this is the irony of our current US administration that both denies climate change AND wants to prevent more immigrants from entering the US (this includes decreasing H1-B visas by the way and depending on whether you like me or not, this means if this would have been in effect when I needed an H1-B, I might not be here right now.)
As a final note while we’re on the topic of science:
Even though we’re seeing a decline of religion in the West, secularists are still a minority. This weekend I encountered a lot of the following, So I’m providing some responses to prompt critical thinking:
“Do you read the Bible? You know, these storms were predicted in the book of revelations!”
My answer: I have read a lot of the Bible. Let me ask you this: Are you familiar with Greek mythology? The Greeks believed Zeus and Poseidon cursed them with storms. Who’s right? Which God is it? Why is it so silly to bring up Zeus or Thor just because they’re not popular Gods in 2017? How broad are those predictions?
“Thank God the hurricane wasn’t too bad for us! He saved us”
My answer: Where was this omniscient being 2 weeks ago when Houston was in need? How about all of the floods in South Asia that have killed over 1,000 people just this year. And, please, please don’t say the Lord works in mysterious ways…
Everyone has the right to religious freedom, but I also have a right to criticize bad ideas.
In a nutshell: Science is the ONLY way we can solve the problems that endanger you and I each and everyday.
P.S. Thanks to everyone for the kind words about previous blog posts, hopes for our safety and offers to help 🙂