Hell and High Wa­ter


Power & Motor Yacht - - SPECIAL REPORT -

The scene was eerily fa­mil­iar: Flat­tened trees. Ris­ing wa­ters. Splin­tery rub­ble where there used to be houses. Peo­ple am­bling through waisthigh wa­ter. Boats stacked on top of each other like mis­placed toys. He­li­copters survery­ing the wreck­age, pulling peo­ple to safety.

Un­like nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in re­cent mem­ory— in­clud­ing the pow­er­ful earth­quake that struck Mex­ico City in Septem­ber—this hur­ri­cane sea­son didn’t feel like an iso­lated in­ci­dent. It had the feeling of an un­end­ing event, a mul­ti­week suc­ces­sion of de­struc­tion. But most of all, it re­minded ev­ery­one of the pre­dictable un­pre­dictabil­ity of Mother Na­ture.

The U.S. Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA) es­ti­mated that this year we would see more hur­ri­canes de­vel­op­ing in the At­lantic Ocean. Con­di­tions were ripe, with warmer -than-usual sur­face sea tem­per­a­tures. Fore­casts called for 14 to 19 named storms. But no one could have pre­dicted the sever­ity, the quick suc­ces­sion, and com­bined dev­as­ta­tion of what was to come.

And come they did, march­ing their way into his­tory. Har­vey. Irma. Jose. Maria. They were like car­bon copies, with some re­vis­it­ing the same ground tram­pled by their pre­de­ces­sors. (At press time, Maria, a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane with winds of 135 knots, is trac­ing Irma’s deadly path in the Caribbean.)

In times like these, it can be easy to fall into de­spair, es­pe­cially if you were af­fected by this sum­mer of de­struc­tion (like those in Key West, pic­tured here). But in the wake of ev­ery storm, na­ture’s wrath was an­swered by steely hu­man re­solve. Both cit­i­zens and the brave men and women of the U.S. mil­i­tary came to lend a help­ing hand with dis­as­ter re­lief, while search-an­dres­cue teams pulled peo­ple up to safety, from Hous­ton to Key West to the Caribbean.

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