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Yachts International - - Contents -

It was a tough au­tumn for hur­ri­canes. For weeks in Au­gust and Septem­ber, those of us who weren’t in harm’s way watched on our screens as red, coun­ter­clock­wise-spin­ning spi­rals with the dots in the mid­dle plowed like saw blades through the Gulf of Mex­ico, Caribbean and U.S. main­land.

Har­vey’s flood­ing was heart­break­ing for the spec­tac­u­lar vol­ume of hu­man mis­ery it pro­duced in south­east Texas. Irma took over the news cov­er­age as if Har­vey, about two weeks ear­lier, had never hap­pened. Irma shred­ded the north­ern Caribbean’s Lee­ward Is­lands be­fore wreck­ing the Florida Keys and con­sum­ing the en­tire main­land penin­sula. Then, Maria de­stroyed Puerto Rico.

At this writ­ing, there was no re­li­able es­ti­mate of how many died or were in­jured, es­pe­cially in the is­lands, where res­i­dents had few op­tions for evac­u­a­tion. It’s cer­tain that many were killed and un­told thou­sands made home­less. Re­lief was slow in com­ing. Re­build­ing will take years and many bil­lions of dol­lars.

As al­ways in dis­as­ters, the best sto­ries are those of heroic first re­spon­ders and car­ing cit­i­zens help­ing neigh­bors and strangers. And as al­ways, po­lice of­fi­cers, fire­fight­ers, Na­tional Guards­men, U.S. Coast Guards­men and the U.S. Navy’s finest were on deck for all man­ner of res­cue and re­lief. Es­pe­cially mov­ing was Louisiana’s “Ca­jun Navy,” which swept into Texas with their jon boats and air­boats and saved hun­dreds from the ris­ing waters. Vol­un­teers with cen­ter con­soles, bowrid­ers and RIBs sup­ple­mented the ef­fort. Those were the bright spots in an oth­er­wise rough au­tumn.

ABOVE: The Bit­ter End Yacht Club on Vir­gin Gorda in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands is a mere skele­ton of its for­mer self post-Hur­ri­cane Irma.

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