“As daylight slowly returned and the wind eased during the morning of Tuesday, August 25, survivors emerged, stunned, from the debris. Some wept, some were stoic, and many were so dazed they did not recognize their profoundly altered surroundings. In many places, little but rubble stretched as far as the eye could see. What few trees remained standing were completely stripped of foliage, painting a bleak, wintry scene at stark odds with the searing heat of the storm’s aftermath. There was no power, no water, and no vehicles on the roads, and a profound silence replaced the howling of the previous night. For most, there was no place to go and no way to get there, with fallen trees and other debris blocking almost every road…Help was slow to arrive.
This quote from Divine Wine: The History and Science of Hurricanes could easily be a description of the morning after Hurricane Katrina. But believe it or not, the author Kerry Emanuel is describing Hurricane Andrew, which devastated Florida in 1992. Check out the conclusion to his chapter on Hurricane Andrew.
“No natural catastrophe is entirely natural. For a hurricane to be regarded as a catastrophe at all, we human beings and our belongings must be in harm’s way…The ancient Mayans learned to build their cities away from the coast, an adaptation that largely spared them the ravages of hurricanes. One might have thought that we, too, would adapt to experience and learn to deal with a fact of nature. Yet we seem content to suffer again and again the same calamity….”
On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Emanuel’s point resonates. Oxford University Press commends the victims of the storm for surviving the first year and hopes they will have the fortitude to weather the second.