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Rise of the Super Storms

  • PBS
  • /
  • July 2, 2018

In just one devastating month, Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean were changed forever. In summer 2017, three monster hurricanes swept in from the Atlantic one after another, shattering storm records and killing hundreds of people. First, Harvey brought catastrophic rain and flooding to Houston, causing $125 billion in damage.

Less than two weeks later, Irma lashed the Caribbean with 180 mile per hour winds—and left the island of Barbuda uninhabitable. Hot on Irma’s heels, Maria intensified from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane in just 30 hours, then ravaged Puerto Rico and left millions of people without power.

As the planet warms, are these superstorms the new normal? How well can we predict them? And as the U.S. faces the next hurricane season, does it need to prepare for the reality of climate refugees? NOVA takes you inside the 2017 superstorms and the cutting-edge research that will determine how well equipped we are to deal with hurricanes in the future.

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Understanding the Basics:

Every Hurricane is different.  Some move slowly, some fast. Some have high winds spawning tornadoes. Others have a great storm surge causing much flooding like Katrina. Last year of the three major storms, Harvey & Irma set new precedents.

  • Katrina and Andrew, category 5, hit one city hard causing enormous damage and loss of life.

  • Harvey moved slowly and stalled as it hit Texas pumping an enormous amount of water from the Gulf of Mexico on one city.

  • Irma, one of the largest storms on record, devastated the Caribbean and Cuba before turning north destroying much of the keys and SW Florida before continuing north ravaging the Florida peninsula spawning many tornadoes and flooding into GA, SC & NC.

  • Florence, category 1, caused widespread flooding across North and South Carolina with little wind damage except along the coast.

  • Michael wiped out homes and towns across an 80 mile stretch of the panhandle spawning tornadoes as far north as VA.

When a hurricane hits everyone within its scope is affected well after it is downgraded to a tropical storm.  Even if your family evacuated, when you return you may suffer emotional trauma plus any physical damage to your house, property and vehicles.  The physical can often be repaired or replaced faster than dealing with the long term affects of emotional trauma.

SHDR is concerned for the overall well-being of all victims and families, not just Christians or members of a particular church. We minister to emotional as well as physical needs. In addition, we offer many ongoing services throughout the rebuilding phase that can often take 2-4 years to complete.

What will our team be doing?

Mission teams often ask - What will we be doing?  While we have a list of what to bring and the present forms of relief offered in a given area the best answer is we will use your team where they are needed most.  Most of our needs can be placed into three categories including:

  1. Initial Relief (Phase 1): After a storm tensions are high, most including emergency responders are in a state of panic or crisis mode. We start by covering damaged roofs with tarps. Clean-up is the main focus and moving emergency supplies to where they are needed most. Our first teams to respond will be sent an Outreach Guide for Team Leaders with answers to many questions. Our thrust will be to help everyone cope through prayer and helping minister to emotional stress. We mobilize tree and debris removal teams, Flood damage teams, Prayer and counseling teams and our Care Bag ministry. Care Bags include emergency items, cleaning supplies, two meals for a family of 4, two gallons of water for cooking and cleaning plus 1-2 cases for drinking and in invitation card to a local church or congregation.

  2. Intermediate, (Phase 2): Essential services are restored, e.g., lights and water. We realize many have suffered emotional stress and perhaps PTSD if they sat out the storm in their home.  This phase includes ministering to emotional needs, completing any remaining emergency needs from Phase 1 and the beginning phases of reconstruction or restoration.

  3. Long-term relief, (Phase 3):  This phase concentrates on the reconstruction phase and may run from one year to three depending upon the severity of the storm.  We continue to use our Care Bag ministry as needed especially to help determine additional needs in a community.

How can we pray?

Prayer:  In a major storm loss of life is common. Pray for safety of all victims and families affected by the hurricane. It may be weeks, even months before cell-phone towers and power is reestablished. Pray for all teams and staff of this ministry and all going into harm’s way.  Pray for safety, for health, for no additional trauma, accidents or complications. Pray for wisdom and anointing on all prayer teams, emotional counseling and care bag distribution teams, indeed every team sent into the aftermath; for God to touch many lives as victims try to rebuild their lives and homes. Pray for God’s provision for those suffering and for every agency, program and ministry helping those in need.

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