Hurricane Michael, the strongest on record in the U.S. since 2004 hit the Florida coastline this afternoon. It’s too late to evacuate. If you’re there - you’re there. Michael is a Category 4 hurricane with winds at 155 mph. But that makes it that top end of Category 4 because as soon as winds hit 157 it will officially be a Category 5. Not that there is much difference between 155 and 157 mph winds other than the rating system because, either way, enormous damage is about to rain down on Florida.
Not even one month after Florence flooded Georgia & the Carolinas and caused $1.5 billion in damages, the E coast is getting hammered again. This time by Hurricane Michael, which meteorologists have rated a Category 4.
Folks in Georgia and the Carolinas still have flooded areas in large portions of the coastline and in a few more days will receive more rainstorms as Michael hits Florida today but will move N further inland by Friday. Michael is actually the opposite of Florence which went from a Category 4 down to a Category 1 by landfall while Michael increased in strength as it came closer to the SE coastline. In fact, meteorologists believe that Michael will still be a Category 2 Hurricane when it hits Alabama and southern Georgia.
If that’s not bad enough Hurricane Michael, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, could spawn tornadoes anywhere from 50-100 miles outside the hurricane eye. That’s all those folks need, right? Tornadoes to go along with their Category 4 hurricane.
Last month, our very own Dr. Daliah wrote a “How You Can Help” column for Hurricane Florence and all of her information is relevant for Michael as well. You can read her column here. Her column also has plenty of links to the Red Cross, the Army Emergency Relief and other sources if you want to donate assistance. The American Red Cross is accepting monetary and blood donations. Financial donations can be given here or on their website at redcross.org. Moreover one can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. More relief numbers in her column.
The forecast cone is expected to stretch Michael all the way north to Maryland, which is a lot of damage, and a lot of danger.
This is a developing story.
The Category 1 hurricane that hit the Carolinas on Friday is expected to cause “widespread devastation” to multiple states.
Five people, including an infant, have been reportedly killed within the first 12 hours of Hurricane Florence’s landfall.
Torrential downpours are expected to continue and power outages, floods, raging waters, and the potential for tornadoes threaten coastal and inland residents.
Risks of drowning, crush injuries, infection, malnourishment, chemical exposure, hypothermia are just a few of the grave issues residents are facing.
Many of those who did prepare for the storm may not have stored plenty of food, especially healthy fresh food. Those trapped in their homes may find the food they did store contaminated by flood water.
The World Health Organization states that floods bring water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and Hepatitis A. Vector-borne diseases include Zika, malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and West Nile.
Mosquitos initially get washed away during the storm, but the resulting puddles of water take weeks to dry and make ideal breeding grounds for insects.
The water gets dirty pretty quickly. People touching the flood water need to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food.
Moreover due to the moisture that seeped into walls and floors of houses, mold can grow and cause a variety of respiratory issues among other physical ailments. Massive disinfecting needs to take place before coming home to flood water contaminated residencies.
Chemicals from garages and fuel seeping into flood water expose victims to many compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene that can cause a multitude of health effects including those that affect breathing, skin, the gut, balance, thought, and memory.
Multiple looters in North Carolina have already been arrested. During Hurricane Harvey, a Cajun Navy rescuer told CNN that looters fired shots at him and his comrades, trying to take their rescue boat, which had actually broken down.
Panic fuels dangerous behavior and those without resources may try to take from those who prepared.
Sexual assault crimes can rise as predators find the chaos and lack of video surveillance ideal conditions to find victims who can’t yell for help.
When one loses their home, neighborhood, income, treasured belongings and more, its devastating. Post-traumatic stress disorder may ensue.
To combat these risks, medical personnel and the CDC are preparing. Among food, shelter and clothes, paper products, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, tetanus vaccinations and counselors will be needed is mass quantities.
Hurricane Florence, although weakening, is expected to hover over the next few days bringing more deadly conditions.
Army Emergency Relief is taking donations here to help victims of natural disasters.
Save the Children‘s Hurricane Florence Children’s Relief Fund site can be found here.
Blood supplies will be needed as residents who routinely donate have evacuated the area. Donating blood at your local blood bank may be shipped to the area in need.
United Blood Services have locations throughout the country that can accept your blood Donation. Contact UBS here.
The American Red Cross is accepting monetary and blood donations. Financial donations can be given here or on their website at redcross.org. Moreover one can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army is also accepting donations online here and by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).
The Red Cross and Salvation Army may also need local volunteers to help set up shelters. Contact the above numbers.
Local volunteers are asked to donate supplies to nearby recreation centers for housing evacuees.
Supply drives in out-of-state locations may not be accepted directly but could help local charities who need to ship supplies to the affected area.
Hurricane Florence begins its long assault on the Georgia, Carolina(s) coastline. My understanding of Florence is that it is an anomaly amongst storms, the main reason being - it’s both wide and slow. Florence is much wider than a typical hurricane and is only travelling at about 2-3 miles per hour. Which isn’t even as fast as a regular person can walk.
What this means is that the force of the storm will linger twice or three times as long as a typical hurricane. And, perhaps obviously - the longer your area is battered with 100 mile an hour winds, the more damage the storm will potentially inflict.
Now, it’s true that in the last several days the storm has dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 3 and now hits the shores as a Category 2. (Go here for a breakdown on the differences between categories of hurricanes) But just because Florence has been downgraded to a C2 doesn’t mean that everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief. The danger is far from over. A C2 hurricane can and will cause significant damage. Again, because the storm is slow it will affect your area much, much longer than a typical storm.
Plus, one hundred mile an hour winds aside, there will still be 30 to 40 inches of rain in a large part of the Carolinas and the coastline is expected to have massive flooding of - get this - anywhere from 6-13 feet of water.
If you can’t imagine what 100 mph wind feels like, think of this - Hurricane Floyd, which also hit the Carolinas in 1999 brought 60 hours of rain (in some areas), massive flooding, caused 74 deaths and approx. $6 billion in damage. And since $100 in 1999 is equal to $147 today (adjusted for inflation) - that would be approx. $9 billion in damage today.
Okay. But Florence is so wide and so damn slow - it’s possible that some areas can expect to be affected by the hurricane twice or three times as long as what happened in Floyd. Imagine that - 120-180 hours of rain! That’s six to seven and a half days of pouring rain!
But that’s not all! Meteorologists have tracked waves 20 feet high and up to 80 feet long heading toward the coastline. Earlier reports suggested the waves were 80 feet high but weathermen (and women) around the country quickly corrected them. I mean, an 80 foot tall wave is 2004 Indonesia Tsunami high and that wiped out entire cities and swept a quarter of a million people into the ocean. Thankfully, Florence does not have 8o foot high waves.
But still, an 80 foot long wave has tremendous force and once it hits the shore will push inland for a very long time. That, coupled with the rain means - massive flooding. Probably, unlike the Carolinas (and Georgia) have ever experienced.
Florence is expected to be full force from late Thursday until early Sunday. Approx. 36 hours of hurricane gale hitting affected areas. And then - additional rain (for days). I certainly hope most folks heeded their Governor’s warnings to evacuate the area.
Of course, I say that and I am not trying to sound glib. There are plenty of reasons where one might not evacuate. Living in poverty with nowhere else to go comes to mind. I understand there are people who might not be able to evacuate and there are always folks who chose to stay for various reasons. I understand.
But man, if I had the means I would be so out of there.
So, what happens after the storm? Well, as usual the best way that you or I can help is to donate to the American Red Cross. From the Fed side of things there is the Disaster Relief Fund. Of course, President Trump has recently made news because - during the height of Hurricane Florence worry - the President transferred almost $10 million from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).
Now, thankfully, the money President Trump transferred out of FEMA wasn’t part of the Disaster Relief Fund as some have reported. Of course, as reported by Vox.com, this still complicates things. From their Is Trump Using Hurricane Relief Money to fund ICE? Not exactly:
“The Trump administration points out that the $9.8 million transferred from FEMA didn’t come out of the Disaster Relief Fund that is specifically appropriated for major disasters. Instead, it came out of the agency’s “operations and support” fund. DHS (Dept. Homeland Security) characterizes that fund as used for administrative expenses: Examples listed by a DHS official included “employee travel expenses, training, basic purchase cards, office supplies, HQ overhead support.”
What complicates this slightly is that one of the things funded by FEMA “operations and support” is the agency’s Office of Response and Recovery, which organizes the agency’s emergency operations and rebuilding efforts. About $2.5 million of the transferred funds came out of the response and recovery budgets.”
Lovely! So the exact office that organizes the Disaster Relief Fund just had a budget cut of $2.5 million - all during the Florence build up! Think about it this way - what happens in your office when you suddenly lose a significant percentage of your work force and / or work support? You know what happens. Suddenly lots of people double up on jobs that they don’t have any experience in and things are more expensive to process and take twice as long to figure out! Which, is totally what we want to happen when people need the Disaster Relief Fund, right? We all want to make it as hard as possible for people to receive assistance! Right? (Please, note the sarcasm).
*sigh* It’s almost like we have a President who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about people.
Anyway, all that being said. I wish the best for the folks of the Carolinas and Georgia.
This is an updating story. We will publish more about disaster relief, where to find it and how best to help, ASAP.