Friday, September 8, 2017

Placing Hurricane Irma in historical context

"Sic orate ac si totum a Deo dependeret, et sic laborate ac si totum dependeret a vobis." - St. Ignatius Loyola

Source: National Hurricane Center

Waiting and praying that Hurricane Irma do the unexpected and veer away from South Florida hopefully to dissipate away from population centers in the North Atlantic.  However at the same time  preparing for the worse. Hurricane shutters put up, food and water set aside, and supplies for the storm and the messy aftermath. Also thinking of those already impacted and the lives lost. This is a terrible storm.

Hurricane Irma
 If, as it appears now, Miami will be heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma then we must be prepared.  We must be our best and do our best at this time of crisis. We will all be tested in a variety of ways. Let us rise to the occasion.

Hurricane Irma will mark a before and after in the history not only of Miami, but of Florida.

Aftermath of the Great Miami hurricane of 1926
Let us remember that Miami has been marked and shaped by prior hurricanes. On September 18-20, 1926 the Great Miami hurricane struck the Magic City with a storm surge of 14–15 feet that caused $7.2 billion in 2016 dollars worth of damage. The storm was a category four on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

24 years later on October 18, 1950 a strong category three storm, Hurricane King, would strike Miami causing lots of damage, but was not as severe as the 1926 storm. Nevertheless it is still remembered today.

Forty two years later on August 24, 2017 Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida with winds of 165 mph and forever changed Miami, Homestead and Florida City. It was a category five storm and the hurricane was the fourth most intense to make landfall on the United States mainland in the recorded history of the country. I lived through this storm and still remember its ominous arrival. The geography of South Florida was changed by the storm and natural environments altered and invader species such as the Burmese python became a greater problem following the storm.

Now South Florida is braced for another major hurricane. This time it maybe a category four or five but the size and scope of the storm makes it, on paper at least, more powerful then Hurricane Andrew and potentially more deadly.  This means that Hurricane Irma will be a key moment in the history of Miami and the rest of Florida.

There has been a massive evacuation underway in Florida and a state of emergency declared. Flights have been cancelled and tourists evacuated. This contrasts dramatically with Cuba where reports have emerged in the British press that travel agencies have not alerted tourists that four of the island's provinces, like South Florida, is presently under a hurricane warning.

No comments:

Post a Comment