Stranded Canadians must share the blame
Re Battered Keys struggle to assess damage, Sept. 13 There are two things about the coverage of the terrible destruction of hurricane Irma and the aftermath that I find disturbing.
The first is that nothing is being written about the wildfires in Western Canada and the refugees from those fires who are still out of their homes. This is not to downplay the awful results of Irma, but we seem to have forgotten about our own disasters.
Second, much is being made of the Canadians caught in the hurricane and the worry of their families. While these vacationers had their holidays cut short and were depending on the Canadian government to get them out of the disaster zone, we don’t seem to share those concerns with the millions of residents of the islands we love to visit.
For the most part, these people are poor and now have nothing left. The Canadian vacationers knew that, at some point, they would return to their unscathed homes with electricity, water, sewage and other infrastructure. Their homes will still have roofs and walls. The residents of those islands do not have that comfort. Stephen Bloom, Toronto
Re Why Irma is so strong, and other storm questions answered, Sept. 11 Writer Seth Borenstein, while trying to link the strength of hurricane Irma to global warming, seems to have ignored some of the past hurricanes and their destructive power.
The Galveston hurricane, which hit the Texas coast 117 years ago, was a category 5 storm that killed more than 8,000 people and inflicted extensive damage on the town of Galveston. In October 1963, category 4 hurricane Flora hit the eastern Florida coast and killed more than 5,000. In July 1969, category 5 hurricane Camille hit the Gulf coast and killed more than 250.
The most destructive tropical storm ever was the Bhola cyclone in November 1970, which hit East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and killed more than 300,000 people.
Will future hurricanes and cyclones be stronger and more destructive? There is no definite answer so far. The best strategy to avoid fatalities is to take adaptive measures such as building shelters in residential areas.
Evacuating millions of people and forcing them to drive away from their homes on heavily clogged highways, as happens now, may not be the best way to cope with such disasters. M.L. Khandekar, former Environment Canada scientist, Markham
Re Lessons for Toronto from Harvey and Irma, Opinion, Sept. 12 Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance and a steering committee member of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, tells us that “severe weather events are getting more frequent and more severe.” He should know better.
Hurricane frequency in North America has been declining — hurricanes Irma and Harvey followed an unprecedented 12year drought in major hurricane activity. As for severity of U.S. storms, Irma ranked 7th and Harvey ranked 18th.
An Aug. 30 report from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states: “It is premature to conclude that human activities — and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming — have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.” Pav Penna, Georgetown
Re Ottawa blames ‘chaos’ for stranded tourists, Sept. 12 Although the folks stuck in the Caribbean were at much more risk than the people in Florida, it still does not give WestJet the right to gouge passengers trying to get out of Florida.
My sister and her husband received a mandatory evacuation notice to be out of Pinellas County by 8 a.m. Friday (Sept. 8).
The sheriff knocked on their door on Thursday night and told them if you stay we cannot save you.
They were able to get a last-minute WestJet flight out of Orlando on Friday. They made it to the gate with five minutes to spare. But what did it cost them for two tickets from Orlando to Pearson? $2,860 (U.S.), which works out to about $3,500.
At a Canadian’s greatest time of need, WestJet decides to take advantage of the situation. How disgraceful is that? Lynne Huard, Toronto
Since when is it the responsibility of the federal government to fly people who are stranded in the Caribbean home to Canada?
When you go on holiday during hurricane season, you should be aware of the risks. Tax dollars spent on rescuing people from glorious holidays gone wrong — really?
The federal officials cited in your articles are apologetic and falling all over themselves to explain why Canadian aircraft have not been deployed. It is absurd that anyone should expect this from their government.
I’m shocked at the entitlement attitude expressed in Star articles by Canadians in St. Martin and other resorts who expect to be flown home after a holiday gone sour. Margaret Mercer, Oakville
I am very frustrated by Canadians who take advantage of cheap holidays to the Caribbean in hurricane season and then blame the government for not bailing them out.
Everyone knows that late August and early September is hurricane season in the south. This is why resorts lower their prices. If you make the decision to fly south in hurricane season, you cannot expect the government to risk the safety of a flight crew to fly down and rescue you.
I care about the safety of Canadians, but individuals must take responsibility for their own actions and the decisions they make. Patty Daly, Toronto
“Writer Seth Borenstein, while trying to link the strength of hurricane Irma to global warming, seems to have ignored some of the past hurricanes and their destructive power.” M.L. KHANDEKAR MARKHAM
I’m very puzzled why so many Canadians are upset about not being rescued speedily by the government when they got stranded in the Caribbean.
We were all warned about the ferocity of this hurricane well in advance. That gave visitors the opportunity to get out of town as quick as possible.
Why is it the responsibility of the Canadian government to rescue these very silly people? Shouldn’t the silly people rescued now be asked to foot the bill?
Many of the residents of the Caribbean islands now have nothing. These are the people we should be focusing our attention on. Michael Fawson, Toronto
A week of inaction on Canada’s part following a local government directive to leave is typical of our government’s lack of concern. As an expat, I quickly learned the rule of thumb: Notify Canadian diplomats as a formality, then go to the French, the Americans or the Brits for real help.
If you are not a rich businessman with whom they want to swill cocktails, Canadian diplomats want nothing to do with you. Every expat knows this. N.G. Spencer, Montreal
I am tired of people who make stupid decisions blaming the government for not bailing them out when things go wrong.
Hurricane Irma did not happen overnight. People had been warned for days before the islands were hit. Yet some Canadians ignored all the warnings and chose to go into harm’s way for their vacations. Then when they got into trouble, they blame the government for not immediately rescuing them from their dumb choices.
The same holds for people who work or study in those areas. They had ample warning that they should leave, but they ignored them. George M. McCaig, Burlington
It is mind boggling to read that many Canadian medical students, teachers and tourists were stranded in St. Martin. This disaster made it extremely difficult for stranded Canadians to find simple necessities like food, accommodation and hydro — even their safety appeared to be compromised.
While citizens of other countries were helped by their consulates, many hapless Canadians became rightly annoyed with Global Affairs. This disgraceful negligence is very disconcerting. While we can boast of a fine track record of helping refugees and other needy migrants, it is un-Canadian to leave our own in the lurch. Rudy Fernandes, Mississauga