Friday, September 5, 2008

Hurricane Havoc Continues as Hanna & Ike Move In

(AP Photo Mississippi during Gustav)
Fay flooded Florida after making landfall four different times, each visit filled with water wrung out of the the sky as if it were a sopping dish cloth. It was enough that Fay as a Category 1 hurricane made people move with a bit more alacrity to protect life, limbs and property when Gustav roared into the Gulf after wreaking havoc throughout the Caribbean. Over 600,000 people are in need of help with just over 200,000 still trapped by floodwaters in Haiti.

Haiti and Cuba took a lashing and up came Gustav, devastating Haiti in ways most cannot appreciate. The poorest nation in the western hemisphere has no trees to stop the erosion of hillsides as mud tumbled onto the meager amount of arable land burying their food supply. The people of Haiti are slowly starving to death while water borne diseases could reach epidemic levels. Bodies are floating Katrina style in the rivers created from the floods. The Red Cross & Red Crescent are moving in with some supplies but it is nowhere near enough for the amount of people in need. It is heartbreaking as even children are going days without food or fresh water, especially as the floods remain and Ike could cause more catastrophic damage to the flooded port city of Gonaives. (AP Photo above, American Red Cross just below)

"I am worried because the soil is completely impregnated with water and there is no way for the rivers to take more water," said Max Cocsi, who directs Belgium's mission in Haiti of Doctors Without Borders. "We don't need a hurricane -- a storm would be enough."

Cocsi, who arrived in Gonaives on Thursday, told The Associated Press that no one knows how many have been killed. The focus now is on reaching the living, not recovering bodies.

Late Thursday, a few blocks from where U.N. peacekeeping troops stopped to dish out cooked rice from their own food supplies to a small crowd of hungry orphans, a woman's corpse in a floral dress was floating in a submerged intersection.

Hanna is going to blow into South Carolina and leisurely make her way up the eastern seaboard sprinkling buckets of rain over the weekend. Hanna is being taken a little more innocuously, much like rainmaker Fay that tied Florida in flood insurance knots. Maryland upgraded from a Storm Watch to a Tropical Storm Warning with expectations of beach erosion and flash flooding along Chesapeake Bay.

In Charleston, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said there was no reason to flee, but urged residents to stay inside when Hanna blows through with wind gusts that could reach 65 mph.

"Stay home, protect yourself, look out for your neighbors and we will get through this just fine," he said.

Several counties in both North and South Carolina opened shelters, and hotels further inland offered discounts to those fleeing Hanna's path. But on the thin barrier islands that make up North Carolina's Outer Banks,
vacation home owner Joe DiStefano checked out the forecast early Friday and said Hanna appears to be moving too quickly to cause much damage.

Ike blew up to a category 4 monster then shrunk to a major category 3 hurricane with winds sustained at 125 mph as it chases Hanna across the ocean seas. Ike looks like it won't mess with an already drenched and miserable Haiti, but just drying out Florida residents will be a bit more uneasy. Ike means no respite for the hurricane weary over the next week.

Chris Mooney gives insight into the links between global warming and the scope and scale of storms in Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle Over Global Warming. This book is a bargain at Amazon in hardback chock full of storm research and

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