By Caitlin Aquino
Beginning in early August, the Atlantic Coast experienced various hurricanes and tropical storms.
Hurricane Harvey, the first of the three consecutive named storms, can be traced back to tropical waves near the African Coast. On Aug. 17, it finally formed into Tropical Storm Harvey in the Caribbean Islands, with heavy rain and gusty winds. On Aug. 23, it quickly reformed into a tropical depression with winds below 39 mph after moving back in the southwest Gulf of Mexico. In just 56 hours, Harvey evolved into a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds as it neared the Texas Gulf Coast. Its center of circulation stalled over south Texas near Rockport on Aug. 26, slowly winding east into the Gulf of Mexico before making a final landfall in Cameron, Louisiana on Aug. 30.
According to Colorado State University tropical scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Harvey was the longest named storm of the nation since Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. In Texas coastal towns of Rockport and Port Aransas, Harvey collapsed buildings, launched boats into the streets, destroyed RV parks and left at least one person dead. Corpus Christi, Texas experienced fragmented trees and separated power lines, broken signs, debris in the roadway, power outages and partially disintegrated roofs. Houston was also overwhelmed with about 20 inches of rain, affecting thousands of residents and forcing them to stay in temporary homes. Over the next few days, Harvey continued to move east, spawning several tornadoes in southeast Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina.
As of September 14, 2017, Harvey damaged 203,000 homes and killed at least 82 people. So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have assisted 738,000 registered people and have paid $378 million to them.
Directly after Harvey came Irma. Hurricane Irma also began as a tropical wave off the African coast. On August 30, it became a tropical storm and intensified to a Category 3 hurricane with winds ranging from 111-130 mph. Irma plowed through the Caribbean Islands as a Category 5 with greater than 155 mph winds, passing over Barbuda, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, near Anguilla, the Virgin Islands, and Cuba. It struck Barbuda the worst, leaving the island with 95% of its structures destroyed and all 1,800 residents evacuated.
On Sunday, September 10, Irma made two landfalls in southwest Florida. According to the National Hurricane Center, the eye of Irma crossed Cudjoe Key around 9:10 a.m. with estimated 130 mph winds. Irma then passed Key West, the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale metro, Marco Island, Naples, and many other cities with winds ranging from 59-142 mph.
Among the hardest-hit areas on Monday, September 11 was the Jacksonville, Florida metro area. With severe flooding, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flash flood emergency for the St. Johns River Basin, including Jacksonville. Georgia and South Carolina were also affected by Irma with 60 mph winds, cutting off power lines and causing widespread flooding. Few were injured in both areas; shelter and food were offered to victims of the disaster.
Still recovering from the damages caused by Irma, the Caribbean Islands- specifically Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands- experienced yet another storm recognized as Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Sept. 18. Maria scourged Puerto Rico with Irma-level winds, left many areas with Harvey-level flooding, severed communication lines, demolished buildings and damaged the Guajataca Dam, putting an estimated 70,000 people at risk.
In the Virgin Islands, many residents have already been told to expect hospitals being torn down and rebuilt, schools remaining closed, and roads staying blocked. Communication and power lines were cut since Maria hit on Wed., Sept. 20, leaving many people unable to request for help from close family members or local officials. On St. Croix, one of the few working cell towers went down due to a stolen generator.
The 103,000 people who reside on these islands were soon unable to provide for themselves after an end to their supplies. Across the islands, Maria stripped many areas of their vegetation and properties. “I’m so at a loss right now and really trying to hold it together because we were on the brink before this, in terms of our finances,” Representative Stacey Plaskett, the Virgin Islands delegate to Congress, said in an interview.
Where you can donate to help with hurricane relief and recovery:
- Hurricane Harvey:
- All Hands: assists in response and recovery
- Americares: provides emergency medical supplies and other basic resources
- Blood donations (Carter BloodCare and/or the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center)
- Foundation Beyond Relief: evaluates how best to use funds they collect
- Global Giving: is attempting to raise $2 million for local relief and recovery efforts
- Greater Houston Community Fund: broad-based relief fund
- Houston Humane Society: helps assemble care and shelter for pets
- Local food banks
- Portlight: seeks to specifically aid people with disabilities
- SBP: plans to eventually help rebuild damaged or destroyed homes
- Hurricanes Irma and Maria:
- All Hands
- Brigid’s Crossing Foundation: animal shelter in Naples, Florida
- ConPRmetidos: Puerto Rican organization that aims to raise $150,000 for recovery and relief
- Convoy of Hope: hunger-focused group
- Global Giving
- Oxfam: focuses its efforts on the Caribbean Islands
- South Florida Wildlife Center: centers its efforts on animals affected by the storm
- United Way of Miami-Dade: works on Irma recovery
- Volunteer Florida: accepts volunteers and donations