This hurricane season has been extremely tough, both for those who were in harm’s way and those who had to watch with helpless anxiety. Between family, friends, and friend’s families, each major Atlantic storm had left me and millions of others watching catastrophe after catastrophe unfold. The worst part for me was knowing this was going to happen, talking about how climate change would eventually intensify our hurricanes and having to watch it as if I was an unheard prophet of doom. To be fair, I’m far from the only person who’s been anticipating destruction at this level, but we are certainly few.
I’m no stranger to rain, but watching those in Lake Charles, LA evacuate was heart wrenching; for me the same city was my refuge after Hurricane Gustav in 2008. The families of more than one friend were trapped for days on their farms in East Texas and with over 50” of rain over the course of a long weekend and two landfalls, the impact was felt well beyond the coast.
Irma came barreling though the Caribbean next quickly becoming a category 5 with such intensity that many questioned the need for the scale to be extended to a 6 or 7. A colleague whose second home is Barbuda lost her dog and horse. St. John (STJ) and St. Thomas (STT) were decimated along with most of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). I haven’t heard from my friends there since before the storm. My only indication of their survival is was a random Facebook post indicating that one of them was “alive”.
And what Irma left, Maria stole. All Barbudans evacuated to Antigua. Evacuees from STJ and STX were hit again, on their island of refuge, St. Croix. A friend and colleague weathered both there- two weeks out she’s still working and living on a generator under a curfew with the current estimate of power restoration being 8- 12mos away. And Puerto Rico, the home to other friends and family- torn apart. My helpless anxiety bubbling over.
I organized a small pet supplies drive for the shelter animals that were evacuated from the USVI, and wait impatiently -ticket in hand- for a trip to St. Croix not knowing if my vacation *turned aid trip* is even useful. Considering I may be one more mouth to feed on an island receiving MRE’s, even bringing secondary supplies seems not enough. And that’s because it’s not. My mind spins with the desire to do more, be more, find a better way, almost as if I’m trying to make up for the silence in response to my years of warnings, concern, and publishing. Knowing the enormity of potential damage is nothing compared to watching it happen.
We are not yet prepared for the future to be upon us. And TS/Hurricane Nate is on its way. More friends in its path, more helpless anxiety while I again- wait.