Once again, I am really feeling for the people in harm’s way due to a natural disaster that’s sure to render thousands homeless. Hurricane Florence could be a category 3 or 4 when it comes ashore on the central to southeast US coast in the next couple of days and a million people are under evacuation orders to avoid risking their lives in the storm which is expected to produce devastating winds, up to 13 feet or more of storm surge, and 25 inches of rain. After losing my apartment in Hurricane Sandy and having to swim out of my apartment building in chest deep water at midnight, and having to live through the aftermath on a devastated and destroyed island, I can attest to the extreme damage and long-term effects produced by hurricanes, tropical storms and widespread coastal flooding. And Hurricane Flo is shaping up to be, potentially, a hell of a storm with winds and rain far worse than what Sandy offered as a category 1 and then a “mere” tropical storm by the time it made landfall in the northeastern United States. The devastation that can reasonably be expected from Flo is, in a word, extreme.
Much like chronic illness it seems, unless and until someone has experienced this for themselves people are simply unable to imagine or comprehend the full effects of this kind of storm damage, like gasoline rationing and shortages (and outages), being rendered homeless or otherwise without power, clean water, heat or access to shopping, bathing, cooking and laundry facilities for weeks if not months at a time, and extreme widespread pollution and environmental contamination from the displaced contents of storm-damaged sewers, septic tanks and water treatment plants; gas stations and petroleum storage facilities; commercial and industrial parks; commercial agriculture and factory farms; hospitals and research facilities; cemeteries and bio-hazardous waste facilities; landfills and garbage dumps; hazardous including nuclear waste storage and disposal sites; and power plants including nuclear power plants and more. Literally everything you can imagine, and many things you can’t, will become airborne, will seep into the soil and groundwater, or will end up floating in/on the floodwaters, leaving a toxic slick covering the landscape for miles once the filthy water recedes.