A Summer of Hurricanes: Context for Stories of those Affected

A Summer of Hurricanes: Context for Stories of those Affected

As storms raged throughout the United States and its surrounding territories, members of affected communities watched their houses flood and their hometowns be destroyed.  In this time of tragedy, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands are brought together by their need to survive.


Hurricane Harvey was officially given its name on Aug. 17 before hitting land, and quickly became a category 4 hurricane. The hurricane made landfall for the first time on Aug. 25 in Rockport, Texas. It soon moved up along the coast, leaving damage in its wake. The highest flooding was recorded in Port Lavaca at 6.71 feet of water. This flooding, coupled with the sustained 110 mph winds, led to mass destruction in many major cities, particularly Houston. But the effects of Harvey were felt by much of the Southwestern United States, with major flooding across Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.


Hurricane Irma struck Florida on Aug. 30 and lasted until Sept. 16. At the peak of the storm, winds averaged 180 mph, adding to the tumultuous conditions. Evacuation measures were taken, and those who chose to stay in their homes were urged to stockpile food and water in the event that they were trapped.


The United States territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were heavily affected by Hurricane Maria, the third hurricane to hit the United States within the span of a month. Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the British Virgin islands also suffered tremendous damage from the storm and are forced to cope with the consequential lack of power and resources.


Although President Trump acknowledged the effects of the storm on United States territories, he faced much backlash for his lack of effort. In a tweet, Trump stated that the leaders of the island, “want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”


Among many other critical statements and tweets, Trump’s thoughts and actions were called into question. Much of Puerto Rico’s population is outraged by the president’s response, but have come together to rebuild their homes and cities despite the lack of federal support they have received. In the mainland United States, donation drives have been setup to send supplies and resources to those who need it as well.


Around 82 people have died from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, approximately 69 people were reported dead due to Hurricane Irma, and 45 deaths are currently known in Puerto Rico. As much of Puerto Rico is still lacking water and power, the current death toll is not likely to be final.


The damage of each hurricane will continue to last as efforts are made to recover the cities and lives of those affected by the disasters. Many students at the University of Redlands were affected by the storms, and shared their stories. Continue to check the Redlands Bulldog for a series of profiles of U of R students who suffered from the effects of the hurricanes.


photo taken by David J. Phillip, NY Daily News of Hurricane Harvey