31 Days of Hurricanes, Earthquakes, You, and Me
Looking back at the past 31 days as we write this, the following has happened:
Hurricane Harvey; 25th August, landfall at Corpus Christi, then backtracked into the Gulf and hovered in the Gulf for days off of Houston before moving east to Louisiana and then north.
Hurricane Irma; 6th September, passed by Antigua, plowed into St Maarten on through the northern Caribbean before crossing over Key West and up Florida’s West coast.
8.1Earthquake Southeast Mexico; 7th September offshore state of Chiapas, north of Guatemala.
Hurricane Maria; 18th September, hitting Dominica hard then on to devastate Puerto Rico. Fortunately predicted to head north and east avoiding a direct hit on the US, but is expected to still skirt the Carolinas.
7.1 Earthquake Southern Mexico; 19th September, state of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City
6.1 Earthquake Southern Baha; 22nd September, peninsula Mexico offshore in the Gulf of California —
Heck, Mexico has had 4 (FOUR) earthquakes in the last 24 hours (as of 25 Sept) registering over 4.1 in magnitude, and they continue. If you want to watch the count, follow Earthquake Track.
I can’t imagine how many people have lost their lives, lost their homes, lost their friends and families, lost their way of life as they knew it. It’s overwhelming and for us that are on the outside looking in, while we try, we cannot even imagine what millions of people are going through today – and for months and years to come. Not only their world, but our world also, has changed. How can it not?
By now, 31 days of media coverage, one terrible catastrophe after another, we can get desensitized to the magnitude of what has happened. In Mexico’s case, what continues to happen.
Let’s not get used to these tragedies. Don’t let this be our “new normal”. Like a marriage or other commitment that takes discipline and effort, let’s not lose the empathy and compassion that swept over us when we saw that first, unimaginable picture of devastation. We can’t do it all. But we can all do it – whether we think 60 is old or not.
What Moves You?
Please, if you were not impacted by these disasters, please choose an organization which best meets your personal values and give what you can to the location of your choice. Perhaps you honeymooned in St. Maarten; or chartered a sailboat from the now decimated fleet in the BVI; maybe Dominica drew you to her lush mountain hikes and waterfalls; or maybe you enjoyed a luxury hotel or cruise ship stop in the USVI. Perhaps you have family in Houston, take great pride in Texas, or have also experienced a massive flood. Perhaps you have a photo next to the Mile One Mark in Key West, or enjoyed a rather wild week there in your youth (or last year). Perhaps your favorite vacation ever was in Mexico where you enjoyed the city, the beaches, and a lush resort.
Just like in your town and mine, in all of these locations there people who help, people who hurt, people who need help, and people who would destroy our faith in humankind. There are kids, babies, the elderly, and parents who are trying to care for everyone; there are heroic doctors, nurses, police officers, and neighbors helping neighbors. There are roughly 3 million people, in the US and US territories alone, who have lost basic needs such as power, part or all of their homes, their jobs, and some or all of their possessions and—most wrenching—beloved family members. They are taxi drivers, health care workers, writers, cleaners, gardeners, bankers, store owners and store clerks, teachers, the clergy, and engineers. All of them need our help.
Where to Donate?
Charity Navigator http://bit.ly/2y2gmBz, a nonprofit that has independently rated over 8,000 charities, compiled a list of some of the best organizations to donate to in the wake of these disasters. Its team considers several factors when giving a charity a score out of 100. Please know that Charity Navigator is, itself, a nonprofit and the site will give you popups for donations as well. Do or don’t sign up with them. We believe their reviews and information they provide about the organizations is valid.
Specific to Harvey – Michael and Susan Dell Foundation have launched the Rebuild Texas Fund – https://www.rebuildtx.org. The Heels Diva (aka: Lynnelle) was lucky enough to attend the live telecast on Friday (22 Sept). At the end of the evening the fund had already collected over $2 million. As we write this on the morning of the 25th, the collections are over $68 million.
Be generous, but be smart. If you have any doubts about a fundraising request, check the Better Business Bureau, in the US. Tribe, please let us know if there is a Canadian, UK, Australian, or other equivalent to our BBB in your countries.
Special Note from the Teva Diva
EW and I love the Caribbean. We spent over four years there on our boat, visiting all but a very few islands. As sailors, we see the Caribbean differently than most tourists do. Cruisers generally stay longer on each island (sometimes months) and get involved in the local communities by volunteering and most of us willingly and with great sprit enjoy local community events, from a sunrise Christmas celebration to the Carnival to the monthly Hash. We were in St. Augustine for Irma and I know that millions lost power and many hundreds or thousands lost everything in that hurricane. And I know that people here in Florida need assistance. Here is a photo gallery of destruction in the Keys by the Palm Beach Post.
However, my heart and attention are in the islands—not simply because I’ve been there, but because, having been there, I know the challenges they will face and that vast majority of citizens will have no other choice but to stay and face them. For example, after Irma there were over 70,000 power outages in Florida and over 99% of them were restored in 4 days. On island after island there is no power at all, no safe drinking water, and no food stores. Some parts of some of these islands can expect to be without power for months. Months. Total population on the heavily impacted islands is over 3 million people. After Irma, other islands helped their neighbors: the people of Puerto Rico helped St. John, the people of St. Croix helped St. Thomas, and the people of Dominica pledged over 2 million to help neighboring islands (including St. Thomas). Each of those three islands were decimated by Maria.
These islands rely on tourism, yet—depending on the island—there will be no tourism jobs for a few months up to a year. And yes, you may have heard chilling accounts of looting on some of the islands. I’ve verified many as true. Some people may be desperate for food for their families, others are simply criminals able to roam with weapons while the authorities provide what aid they can. With all my heart, I hope that island authorities receive professional military or police help to restore order.
The needs and the challenges vary by island. Some, like Dominica, are fully independent and have no affiliation with a “parent” country. Others, like the BVI, the USVI, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten are part of larger, wealthier countries. First and foremost, I ask each of you to encourage your respective government to provide the needed assistance to your fellow citizens on distant shores. While I understand this will be expensive and create great challenges, our governments have a responsibility to the people on every island that flies their flag. Period. Full stop. No exceptions.