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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.