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Hurricanes And U.S. Territories In The Caribbean

Sep 4, 2019
Originally published on September 6, 2019 1:25 pm

The approach of Hurricane Dorian sounded alarm bells in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico last weekend. Both U.S. territories are still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria two years ago.

Dorian’s impact on the U.S. Virgin Islands was not as severe as had been feared.The hurricane struck Wednesday and caused island-wide blackouts in St. Thomas and St. John and downed some trees. There were no reports of major flooding, according to local government officials.

Journalist Peter Bailey, who’s also known for hosting NiteCap Live, a talk show for youths in the U.S. and Caribbean, was visiting his native St. Thomas when Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the islands.

Bailey wrote about the experience in The New York Times:

Once again, our house was flooded. The blue tarpaulin that we had put up on our roof after Irma lay shredded on the ground. Once again, I looked up through the rafters and beheld blue sky. My fear of heights now somehow cured, I grabbed a ladder and headed back onto the roof, balancing myself on rafters while draping the torn tarpaulin back over the open spaces and nailing it to the wood.

Bailey recently released a film about the resilience of Virgin Islanders.

After striking the Virgin Islands, Dorian moved in the direction of Puerto Rico. Still in recovery after Hurricane Maria’s visit in 2017, Puerto Rico was spared the brunt of the storm. The areas most affected were the islands of Vieques and Culebra off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast. Culebra Mayor William Solís said only one community on his island lost power.

Another person paying close attention to Hurricane Dorian is Miguel Román, director of the Universities Space Research Association’s Earth from Space Institute. He has worked to develop space technology that can help people all over the world deal with disaster preparation and recovery. His grandmother lives in the coffee-growing region of Puerto Rico.

He says that climate change is morphing the way organizations like his are approaching their work:

People want our space agencies to study and focus more on climate change impacts. And so if you have an organization that has been in the space community for 50 years, the writing is on the wall: We really need to change the way we do business in the Earth sciences.

As Hurricane Dorian slowly moved along the coast of Florida on Wednesday as a Category 2 storm, meteorologists predicted it could cause flooding and wind damage along the coast from Georgia to southeast Virginia.

And The New York Times reports: “Aid experts say there will be immediate emergency needs before the long, arduous task of rebuilding begins,” and assembled a group of reliable aid organizations that are helping hurricane survivors.

How should we help regions where hurricanes and tropical storms are becoming more common? How much is climate change a factor in their severity and frequency?

Produced by Morgan Givens.

GUESTS

Miguel O. Román, Founding director, Earth from Space Institute, University Space Research Association; @usra_roman

Peter Bailey, Journalist; director, “Paradise Discovered: The Unbreakable Virgin Islanders,” a documentary film; @iampeterbailey

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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