Survival in Houston from Harvey, credit David J. Phillip/AP Photo

Puerto Rico crushed by Maria, credit New York Daily News

HISTORY

Linda and I have lived in Florida for seventeen years. During that time we have seen Charlie, Frances, Jeanne, Mathew, Wilma, Ivan, and Irma. In 2004 Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne landed exactly two weeks apart to the day. They hit landfall exactly two miles apart from each other with the eye going over our home. Both hurricanes were category 2. And now, we see “Devastation After Harvey, Irma And Now Maria.”

Reflecting back, tornadic warnings from Frances and Jeanne were a common occurrence . After Jeanne I clearly remember the affects of seeing a diesel locomotive with ten cars lying on their sides under the Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, Florida.. Since that time I have so much empathy for the good folks lying in the wake of tornadoes particularly over the last six years. People from Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, and Tennessee I feel your pain. I apologize for all of the people I have left out from areas adversely affected from tornadoes.

The one thing I can say about officials in Florida regarding impending hurricanes, and tornadic conditions, THEY ARE SPOT ON. Days in advance citizens of Florida were given constant updates on the status of the impending hurricane, how to prepare, and giving evacuation details. We were not caught off guard.

So what is it about Harvey? Call it a feeling, or instincts, I was just frightened! I do not live near Houston or Beaumont Texas. However, a good friend of mine lives in Houston and I was fearful for him and his family. I have lectured in Houston and I can tell you that when I looked out to the golf it appeared that I was looking up to the water, I have since had bad feelings of that experience.

So what is it about Irma? This one frightened me as well with a bad feeling. A category 3 hurricane coming at us…… and now Maria. The devastation caused by Harvey, Irma and Maria is overwhelming.

 

Satellite view Hurricane Harvey Courtesy of NOAA

Satellite view Hurricane Irma courtesy of NOAA

ABOUT HURRICANE HARVEY, IRMA, AND MARIA

  • Harvey is the wettest hurricane on record in the United States, with peak water accumulation at 64 inches. It made landfall as a category 4 with winds at 132 mph. As with Hurricane Irma, constant tornado warnings existed throughout each day. Harvey displaced more than 30,000 people from Houston and the surrounding areas. There were more than 17,000 rescues and in its wake it caused 83 deaths. Texas Department of Public Safety stated, “185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 destroyed.” At this time the economic loss is too staggering to mention, estimates are over 150 BILLION dollars. This was a cyclone that just did not go away and continued to punish the Texas Golf Coast as it stalled for 4 days before slowly moving northward.
  • Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded reaching winds of 185 mph. This storm stretched 650 miles east to west covering the entire state of Florida. Its eye hit directly over the island of Barbuda causing total destruction. Irma approached the Florida Keys as a category 4 hurricane with winds at 140mph leaving a constant wake of tornado warnings behind. The lower keys looked like a war zone. Unlike Harvey, Irma was a storm of violent wind destruction. Irma resulted in the largest land mass evacuation in the United states as over 5.6 million people made their crippling way north out of Florida.
  • Maria finished what Hurricane Irma started. Marie delivered the fatal blow to the islands of Puerto Rico, Saint Thomas, Saint Johns, Saint Croix, Dominica, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos. Recorded sustained winds of 140 mph, a category 4 cyclone, dumped as much as 40 inches of rain on Puerto Rico. The aftermath left no power, no communication, no gas, no shelter and a plea, “Don’t forget us.”
  • Between Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria the death tools are reported at 170 people. Untold despair, heartache, loss, and catastrophic devastation remains unimaginable never to be forgotten by us who experienced this nightmare.

Despair, credit Nick Oza/USA Today

Escape and rescue, credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Beaumont, credit Staff Sargent Daniel Martinez

Escaping Beaumont credit Jonathan Backman/Reuters

5.6 million on the move, credit Sun Sentinel

Florida Keys credit Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Cudjoe Key destroyed, credit Matt McCaine/Wash. Post

First Responders credit Gerald Herbert/ AP

DEVASTATION AFTER HARVEY IRMA AND MARIA ~ BRINGS THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE

  • On a personal note in a time when our country is so divided from politics, race, ethnicity, health coverage, etc. there was a coming together during the catastrophic hurricanes. Strangers helping strangers, white and black coming together placing personal survival at risk, helping perfect strangers with a buck, on and on it goes. Self governing during tragedy, something Washington knows little about…..
  • Allow me to paraphrase the story of Hurricane Harvey, as told by 28 Texans who helped their state through its darkest hour. I encourage you to click the link Voices From The Storm, by the staff of Texas monthly.
  • Moments of human chains to rescue strangers trying to survive floodwaters and a woman about to give birth.
  • Mabry Campbell, a dear friend living in Houston tells a story of a Kentucky man who drove to Houston with his pickup and boat. When he could go no further he and his boat slipped into the murky floodwaters and started helping stricken victims having no clue where he was. Upon seeing this local residents gave food and shelter to his aid.
  • Sgt. Steve Perez, and off duty Houston police officer in a selfless moment of service died when he drove his vehicle into floodwaters.
  • People were risking their lives to save others in the polluted waters of Houston and Beaumont Texas while alligators, venomous snakes and  huge mounds of fire ants building barges upon themselves were also in the same floodwaters.
  • What I’m about to relate to you is a story that pales in comparison  to those who were devastated by Harvey, Irma and Maria. It is meant to be a thumbnail look at the Florida evacuation. We left Thursday morning before Irma’s eye, a category 3, was due to go over us in Stuart, Florida. Without understanding why, Irma for the next two days moved slightly west, thereby creating a buffer moving us further away from a direct hit. I promise to try and never complain about local traffic grid lock, during season, after experiencing bumper to bumper traffic for 500 miles taking 18 hours.
  • Evacuees stalled without gas were given a lift to a gas station, hopefully with gas.
  • Less fortunate people with desperation in their eyes far from home were given a buck so they might eat.
  • Staff at the Quality Inn in Eufaula, Alabama working 18 hour shifts were calling other hotels so other evacuees without reservations might have a place to stay. Churches in the town provided pot luck meals for us. The local newspaper asking its citizens to be empathetic, charitable and supportive while we invaded their tiny town.
  • I had the pleasure of meeting James L. Thomas Sr., a retired Master Sergeant from the United States Army with over 20 years of service. James is the National Treasurer of the Buffalo Soldiers. His chapter from Eufaula, Alabama led two convoys with water, food, clothing for the folks of Beaumont. He followed this up with a another convoy containing the same needs for the people of Houston. The day we left to return to Florida he and his contingent were leaving for the Tampa area with more supplies. I have mixed feelings about mentioning this but I feel it necessary for those not familiar with the Buffalo Soldiers. You see, these proud men and woman are Afican Americans from the deep south helping humanity without prejudice, in a time where race division continues surface in America.
  • The Islands……I cannot imagine what you are going through! No power, no food, no water, no gas, no communications and no shelter while living in an existence with heat and humidity. People helping each other on an isolated island hoping not to be forgotten. I hope some of the images below will move folks not affected or less affected by the hurricanes to give more of themselves for the survival of the people struggling on the islands.

 

 

Puerto Rico with no water, credit Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Saint Thomas Destroyed, credit Virgin Islands Free Press

Overwhelmed in Puerto Rico, credit to Wall Street Journal

Don’t forget me to Puerto Rico, credit Daily Express