Reflecting on Disasters

Oct. 4, 2018

About the author:

Bob Crossen is managing editor for W&WD and iWWD. Crossen can be reached at [email protected].

As more news comes out about the damage and turmoil caused by Hurricane Florence along the eastern U.S. coast, I am reminded of the devastation Hurricane Harvey left in its wake in Houston last year. When Harvey made landfall, my colleagues and I scrambled to cover its effects in the next issue, going so far as to scrap several features we had planned to run so we could run articles on the storm.

However, I felt I had not done enough personally to cover were the effects of Hurricane Maria on Florida and, perhaps more importantly, Puerto Rico. The death toll in Puerto Rico resulting from last year’s hurricanes—the island was hit by both Maria and Irma—was recently increased to nearly 3,000 people. 

Now, not all those deaths are directly related to the wind and water from those storms, but rather, they are the result of toppled power lines, decimated infrastructure and poor water quality conditions in the months since the storms made landfall. Puerto Rico is not without its faults—a Puerto Rican senator, a mayor and two other officials were arrested on corruption charges in July—but that does not mean the people are any less deserving of aid.

Aid also should go to those affected by Hurricane Florence in early September. As Florence approached the East Coast, it downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane to a Category 1. What the categorization fails at highlighting, however, is the water. 

Projections showed that storm surges could rise up to 9 ft in some areas. Considering the standard ceiling height for most buildings is 8 ft, that kind of flooding would leave only the roofs of most houses above the water. Indeed, early photos of the flooding show just that. Homes have been lost, personal items have been destroyed, and life for those living in the storm’s path has been altered forever.

They need our aid just as much as they need federal resources to recover. And if you do send aid, make it a charitable donation of money rather than teddy bears, old clothes or items bought from a store. While those intentions are nice, many of those items end up rotting away before they can be properly issued to those who need them, as was the case with many donations for Puerto Rico. And if you’re feeling particularly giving, donate blood to the Red Cross; it has been suffering from blood shortages for these kinds of emergencies and could use your help. 

Correction: In the July 2018 issue of WWD in an article titled Flat Gasket Clamps, the references to photos in the body copy were incorrect and should have read “above.” In the Sept. 2018 issue of WWD in an article titled Adjust the System, the subheads should have read “Meeting urban growth challenges with effluent sewers.”

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