Are Natural Disasters the New Norm?


 © Yann Libessart/MSF


It’s undeniable that current events have many of us wondering how and why are catastrophic events so prevalent.  In the first three-quarters of 2017 , four major hurricanes have devastated the Caribbean, Central America, and Southern Regions  of the United States.  Making it difficult for disaster relief to reach the tens of thousands who’ve been left homeless, injured, and/or without food or water.  As one hurricane subsided and relief efforts began, another hurricane would commence its march toward land.  It’s incredible to witness the devastation what one natural disaster has on humans and the flora and fauna of the region impacted , but to witness one disaster after the other begs the question:  Are natural disasters the new norm?

Below is a list of natural disasters which have occurred to date in 2017.

First we’ll discuss the four major hurricanes that have made landfall.

This list does not include the typhoons and tropical storms that have had severe impact in Vietnam, Japan, and different regions of Central and North America.

Hurricane Harvey:  Making landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane in mid-August, Harvey swept through Texas and Louisiana destroying what some officials estimate as many as 50,000 homes.  It’s unclear what the overall damages will be once time has allowed for waters to recede and government agencies to tally loses but it certainly will be years before communities can return to their former state before Harvey.

Hurricane Irma:  Another Category 4 Hurricane, Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys and made its way up the western side of the Florida peninsula.  Irma would loom over Florida for weeks, although the 130 mph winds subsided before Irma made its second landfall near Naples, the storms intensity was enough to leave residents without power and struggling with flooding.

Hurricane Jose:  Jose reached the island of Barbuda as a Category 4 hurricane.  Luckily, most of Barbuda’s residents were evacuated prior to landfall but the devastation it left behind didn’t spare human suffering as many were left without a home to return to.

Hurricane Maria: Maria left the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in disarray as its power grid collapsed  leaving thousands without access  to electricity.   In addition, approximately 70,000 Puerto Rican’s have been ordered to evacuate their homes due to the predicted failure of the Guajataca dam.  The small island has suffered of late as Maria is and addition to its recent problems such as its economic crisis that saw the U.S. territory on the verge of bankruptcy.

Within one month, four major hurricanes have made landfall but they weren’t the only natural disasters making news.

On the heels of Hurricane Maria, news outlets from Mexico City confirmed it was victim of a second earthquake within weeks.  Images of collapsed buildings, downed power lines, and rubble filled streets made their way around the world as many questioned the proximity of catastrophic events.   Some seek their answers in divinity while others turn to science to explain what seems to be an unprecedented phenomena.

It can be said that technology is the reason why we’re constantly aware of every natural disaster that occurs worldwide.  With one or the other accompanying us at all times, our cellphones, tablets, and televisions assure us that we will know within hours of catastrophes.  It reasonable to assume that technology has affected our communication greatly but it is estimated that more Category 5 Hurricanes have made landfall in the last ten years that anytime in history.

Can it be that we must come to terms with the idea that natural disasters will be more prevalent than before?   Perhaps, but we must realize that we’ve been forewarned by scientists of the effects climate change can have on our planet.