Year after year, hurricanes have consistently struck the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean with ferocity, evoking indiscriminate destruction. An article written by Jill Disis was featured on the CNN Money website on August 28th about the top five most costly hurricanes to have ever hit the US, just before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. According to a chart she included originally created by NOAA, the top 5 costliest hurricanes that have ever hit the United States include Hurricane Katrina ($160 B), Hurricane Sandy ($70.2 B), Hurricane Andrew (47.8 B), Hurricane Ike (34.8 B), and Hurricane Ivan ($27.1 B).
After Hurricane Harvey made landfall with winds hitting well over 100 mph, dropping over 2 feet of rain with it and demolishing an entire region, an estimated $40 billion dollars in physical damage was incurred. What’s even more unfortunate is that the costs don’t stop there. Hidden costs are related to hurricanes and severe storms that also include nationwide cost increases, as well as losses to businesses. The worst part about these hidden costs is that some of them aren’t really understood until much later. Some examples of these hidden costs are the losses of historical artifacts, replacement and repair of infrastructure, inherently important social and historical structures, continued damage to personal and sentimental property, and environmental devastation. As these losses continue to be discovered in the wake of Harvey, we are left with almost no time to recover.
According to Fortune Finance and an article composed by Chris Morris on September 7th, Hurricane Irma might completely dwarf Harvey. In fact, according to the New York Times, Irma may have resulted in as much as $250 billion dollars of damages. I don’t know about you, but regardless of how many billion dollars it is, I find those numbers hard to get my head around. This season in particular has been extremely scary for the United States. These storms not only kill people and destroy entire regions of the county, they displace millions of people, causing wide-spread homelessness. In the wake of Harvey and Irma alone, government relief and financial assistance will become harder to obtain, and insurance companies may not cover damage caused by these storms.
What’s really scary about these circumstances is that two more hurricanes are already heading this way. Hurricane Jose is looking like the second punch from Irma and Hurricane Katina may be a second punch from Harvey. If both of these hurricanes develop into more significant threats, the entirety of the gulf regions may be left irreparably damaged. These hurricanes are both natural processes, but are also likely to be directly related to global climate change. As the next few weeks will tell, these natural processes, whether related to climate change or not, are going to force the world to rethink how powerful the earth’s natural systems can be.
For the time being, there are millions of people who will be hurting, lost, homeless, and feasibly left with nothing. As an entire culture, we must band together and intentionally focus on the needs of others. Around the world there are billions of people who need help. Sustainable thinking can help us understand what a big impact we can have for these people in need. Even though it may not seem like anything, one of the ways you can support these communities is by financing their economy through intelligent and intentional purchases. One purchase you make might make a bigger difference than you even know. Let’s come together and serve others. Think about those in need today. It means way more than we can fathom.