Irma’s ‘Perfect Storm’

Hurricane Irma, described as the “perfect storm,” tore through Southern Florida and surrounding islands, devastating families and destroying homes

By Evelyn Maxey & BAILEY WELSHANS

 

Here is the destructive path of Hurricane Irma. Irma formed on Aug. 30 in the Atlantic Ocean and hit the Florida Keys on Sept. 10. Source: weather.com

Hurricane Irma wasted no time after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey to start her own path of destruction. On August 30, 2017, the monumental storm struck parts of Cuba, the Virgin Islands, and southwestern Florida. Victims of the storm in the United States stretch from Naples, Florida, all the way to Albany, Georgia. Irma hit Florida as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 MPH.

Death tolls have reached 40 in the Caribbean, 24 in Florida, 4 in South Carolina, and 3 in Georgia.  The high death toll and overall impact on the population was due to its 400 mile diameter. Hurricane Katrina had the same diameter, but the winds were not nearly as strong as Irma’s.

 

Squall staff member Isabella Franklin has  family that lives in Miami, Florida. She was worried about her family and hoped they would be able to evacuate.

Nearly 7 million people were warned to evacuate, with 6.4 million in Florida alone. However, not many were willing to leave their homes and possessions behind in fear of what they would come back to. For many, it would be nothing but rubble.

Two girls walking through the rubble on the French Caribbean on the island of Saint Martin after the devastation of Hurricane Irma. Source: Telegraph.co.uk

“The damage to their home includes complete electricity loss, water loss, and downed trees,” Franklin said. “They were quite afraid due to the fact they didn’t know what to expect.”

Not just humans were threatened by the storm, when it came to keeping animals safe, volunteers had to get creative. Shelters for abandoned animals included churches, jails, warehouses, and large rescue centers. The high capacity of these shelters reflects the number of animals that were estimated to have been saved from Irma. The number of total domestic animals and zoo animals rescued is not recorded officially, but is believed  to be in the high hundreds, possibly even thousands according to CNN.

The overall recovery process has begun slowly, with many shelters being set up for individuals and families displaced by the storm. Nearly 10,000 people’s homes were destroyed by Irma, and it will be a long recovery process. Health care professionals, volunteers, churches, and multiple other organizations have come to Florida from other states to help affected individuals, and have been successful in healing those harmed by Irma.

Power in Florida has mostly been restored, leaving only 12 thousand, out of the 4.5 million residents without power by the end of that week. However, these 12,000 people are without air conditioning in Florida’s blistering heat, without warm water, and without electricity. Florida’s Power and Light, a Florida-based utility company,  have been working around the clock to restore power to the remaining counties, and restore hope in Florida.

Junior Savanna Moody is an active participant in Dexter’s initiative to aid those impacted by the hurricanes. Moody is working with a group close to her heart: Hands of Light in Action, a non-profit organization from Canton, Mich. This organization’s purpose is to help people recover when natural disasters occur.

Hands of Light in Action logo, representing exactly what they stand for; helping those no matter what.

Hands of Light in Action assisted her family during the tornado in 2012 that devastated Dexter. When the hurricanes swept through the United States, Moody knew she wanted to help the organization that helped her.

“I wanted to help and give back because [they] helped us,” Moody said.

Moody has been collecting gift cards that will help people rebuild their lives and start a long recovery process. She will pass over these gift cards physically to the owner of the organization who is currently on her way, with her team, to areas impacted by the storms. She will be using the gift cards in any way needed for residents to recover. Currently, the biggest need are chainsaws for cutting up trees.

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