Hurricane Maria claimed its first fatality as it passed through Guadeloupe this past Tuesday. The category 5 storm wrecked the local communities and left almost 40 percent of the island without power. Hurricane Maria is expected to only do more damage over the next couple days. Almost immediately after Hurricane Irma devastated communities in the Caribbean, Maria seems to be following a similar path towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
For those of us in Humboldt, situated along the Pacific, it may be easy to overlook the disasters occurring elsewhere in the world. But after a series of five hurricanes over the last few months and the recent earthquake originating near Mexico City, we have to get involved. Natural disasters that don’t hit us still affect us.
Thomas Perez, a Business Marketing major here at Humboldt State, believes that anyone and everyone can make a beneficial impact.
“As simple as it is, donating money to relief efforts would be great,” said Thomas Perez. “If we could donate, whether it’s our time, our money, or even ourselves promoting them, I’m sure that awareness could be a great help [to areas impacted].”
While Hurricane Harvey made its way through Texas, Perez had a personal investment to stay updated on the storm.
“I have some long standing friends that went to the University of Texas and also to Houston, they had to be evacuated from their homes and I don’t know if they will be able to return anytime soon,” said Perez.
Perez has been keeping in contact with his friends in Texas, so he wasn’t too worried about how they were doing physically. They were all evacuated before the worst of the storm hit and are currently safe, but Perez was able to hear first hand accounts of what was happening.
“It’s terrible that they are going to lose so much of what they’ve had,” said Perez.
Perez is not the only one who knows someone who was impacted by the storms.
Cassandra Wages, a freshman starting her first semester at HSU, also has family and friends hit by the hurricanes.
“In Florida, my great-aunt has family there, and all those people had to be evacuated, and she’s losing her property that’s there,” said Wages.
Like Perez, Wages says that donations are helpful to rehabilitate people. While not everyone can physically help the communities hit by natural disasters, donations are a simple aid.
Kianna Rodriguez, a Communications major, strongly believes that donations are the way to help if you can’t physically set aside the time.
“As much as people want to help and want to be doing things for people that are suffering because of these natural disasters, sometimes our resources aren’t enough,” said Kianna Rodriguez.
“One of the biggest things is staying on top of what people actually need, that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve been concerned about,” said Rodriguez. “If there is something I can do, I’m a college student I obviously can’t do a whole bunch, but donating money [could help], not necessarily clothes or blankets, cause maybe they don’t need that stuff.”
Craig Mitchell, an Environmental Science and Management major, says that donations can help, but there are other ways to benefit recovering areas.
“I’m actually in the Coast Guard reserve and I almost got deployed to Harvey,” said Craig Mitchell. “I spent six years on active duty in the Coast Guard and I have friends that are now stationed down their.”
Luckily, Mitchell was not deployed and was able to transfer to HSU this semester. Mitchell believes that small changes, driving less when possible, choosing sustainable products, and other everyday decisions we make, influence the devastation the storms are causing.
“I feel like global warming has something to do with it,” said Wages.
Hurricanes are caused by low-pressure weather systems and sustained winds of above 74 mph according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An increase in the global temperature, resulting in an increase in the ocean’s temperature would influence the size and number of tropical storms in a given area. While there has not been any confirmation relating these recent natural disasters to climate change, the general belief on campus seems to be that climate change is impacting the storms.
“It would be natural if there weren’t so many, it’s just that three to four hurricanes in one season is a little ridiculous,” said Perez. “Normally this is the time for hurricane season, but just one and not that big, it all seems a little unnatural”
Whether or not we are influencing the intensity of the hurricanes through climate change, this is still a worldwide issue. If one area is hit by a devastating disaster it is up to us, all of us, to help them.
“Seeing the people that are going out with boats and stuff helping families is so incredible,” said Rodriguez. “It’s been nice to see unity when it comes to these situations, because there hasn’t been in the past. Its nice to see that people are stepping up now, and even going out of their own state to travel to these places to help other people.”
Some natural disasters can not something be planned for. We can prepare, with prepared supplies and plans for various disasters, but we never really know when, where, or how the next natural disaster will occur.
“It’s time for everyone to step up and try help each other, even when times of crisis are happening,” said Rodriguez.
What if a hurricane hit where someone you love lives. Or if an earthquake, like the one that just hit outside of Mexico City, shook Humboldt instead. A natural disaster is bigger than one individual’s story or one communities hardship. A hurricane does not target people for a reason, the environment doesn’t care where you’re from, what you look like, or how much money you have.
“I have family in Texas, and it’s kind of scary knowing that someone you know, possibly might not be here any more,” said Rodriguez.
Hurricanes have done immense damage this year, and thousands of people have been displaced because of the series of storms. Many others have lost their lives. This is not a small issue, if natural disasters are increasing in strength and frequency, the worldwide effects will only get worse.