What would have been welcomed with excitement turned sour as the highest natural disaster ever recorded in the history of the US was experienced. The heavy downpour (storm) which caused a lot of disaster is the most serious ever witnessed in the United States of America as over 80% of Texas is on water, leaving so many people fleeing for their dear life.
encomium.ng highlights the casualty figures and damages caused by Hurricane Harvey and Irma respectively.
Harvey which was a category 4 storm that hit Texas on August 25, 2017, threw Port Aransas and Port O’Connor near Corpus Christi with 130 m.p.h. winds. The category 4 hurricane left 250,000 people without power. Harvey moved on to Houston. It remained there for four days.
Meanwhile, two reservoirs overflowed. The highways became waterways, while between 25 and 30 percent of Houston’s Harris County was flooded. That is an area as large as New York City and Chicago combined. It was home to 4.5 million people.
Harvey made landfall for a third time as it hit the coastal cities of Port Arthur and Beaumont Texas on the border of Louisiana. It dumped 26 inches of rain in 24 hours. It flooded Port Arthur, a city of 55,000 people. Water entered one-third of the city’s building, including the shelter. As a result, Beaumont has been without drinking water since the storm. However, an Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, ignited. The chemicals required refrigeration to stay inert. When the storm disabled the cooling equipment, temperatures rose and the chemicals ignited.
Hurricane Harvey damaged 203,000 homes, of which 12,700 were destroyed. There were 507,000 people who registered for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency delivered 80 tractor-trailer loads of emergency supplies.These included cots, blankets and meals. There were 37,000 people in shelters in Texas and 2,000 in Louisiana. Almost 7,000 people were in the George R. Brown Convention Center, where 1,700 received medical treatment. FEMA moved 14,900 in temporary housing. As of September 1, 8000 families had moved into 9000 hotels rooms.
Federal forces rescued 10,000 people who were trapped in their homes and on flooded highways. A flotilla of private boats rescued an unknown number of additional victims. The Houston Police Department’s Dive Team rescued 3,000 people in four days and 40 people were saved in less than 24 hours.
Houston’s school district said 75 of its 275 schools were closed due to flood damage. In the Gulf area, 1 million vehicles were ruined beyond repair, that includes 300,000 to 500,000 vehicles owned by individuals. Harvey flooded 800 wastewater treatment facilities and 13 Superfund sites. That spread sewage and toxic chemicals into the flooded areas.
Harvey’s impact spread across the country as gas prices rise, forcing about 25 percent of oil and gas production to shut down in the region. That affects 5 percent of nationwide output. U.S. average gas prices rose from $2.35 a gallon before Harvey hit to $2.49 a gallon.
A few weeks after Harvey, Hurricane Irma began heading toward Miami, Florida. It is a Category 5 storm that’s the largest Atlantic storm ever. Its 185 mph winds lasted for 37 hours. Hurricane Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. It made landfall on Barbuda on September 6, 2017. Its winds were 185 miles per hour for 37 hours. That’s longer than any storm ever recorded. It beat Super Typhoon Haiyan, which maintained winds at that level for 24 hours in 2013.
Irma held 7 trillion watts of energy. That’s twice as much as all bombs used in World War II. Its force was so powerful that earthquake seismometers recorded it. It generated the most accumulated cyclone energy in a 24-hour period. Irma’s attack was the first time in 100 years that two storms Category 4 or larger hit the U.S. mainland in the same year.
Irma hit the Leeward Islands with winds over 180 mph, leaving hundreds in Puerto Rico without power. It hit the northern part of Haiti and the Dominican Republic with 15 inches of rain. It affected the Turks and Caicos Islands and eastern Bahamas. The storm passed over waters warmer than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), that’s warm enough to feed a Category 5 storm.
Irma affected the north coast of Cuba flooding Havana. Winds at 150 mph and waves at 29 feet. Wind gusts of 55 mph hit southeast Florida. Storm was downgraded to a Category 3 but was projected to regain strength before hitting Florida. Irma was upgraded to a Category 4 but veered westward. Though Miami didn’t get the core of Irma, it still received life-threatening conditions. The Florida Keys received 12 inches of rain and a 10-foot storm surge. Rainfall averaged 10-15 inches.
Irma downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it headed to Tampa leaving almost 6 million people without electricity. Irma later downgraded to a tropical storm.
On September 11, 2017, the death toll is 31 people, including 4 in Florida. It damaged 90 percent of the buildings on Barbuda. It destroyed almost all communication, and left 60 percent of the population homeless. However, the government evacuated 300 citizens to Antigua. Meanwhile, Florida officials ordered 6.5 million people to evacuate. There were 77,000 people in 450 shelters.
The most rain in the state fell on Fort Pierce, receiving 15.9 inches.Irma hit Miami with winds of 90 mph. Three cranes collapsed and streets flooded.
According to insurance company, Swiss Re, the damage could be $100 billion to $300 billion. It calculated that insured losses from a Category 5 storm would cost between $60 billion to $100 billion. But only 60 percent of buildings are insured for such a large hurricane.
– Chika Okorie for encomium.ng