By Anessa V. Cohen
I think that most of us watching the unfolding news of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey these last two weeks have a feeling of déjà vu. Those of us who went through Superstorm Sandy can well sympathize with what folks in these areas are going through with these storms. The aftermath can seem worse than what we experienced during our havoc, bad though it was.
The Caribbean Islands are used to bearing hurricanes year after year, but this time they really got clobbered. The damage is so extensive; with damage exceeding 80% or 90% of an entire island, it makes one wonder if they will really be able to make a comeback.
The news we are hearing from places like St. Martin and Barbuda is that the islands were nearly completely mowed down with damage and flooding. Food and water is scarce, and assistance is slow in coming to these areas to help with search-and-rescue. It will probably be a while until all the residents are accounted for and each island’s damage determined before repair and rebuilding can commence.
Here in the United States, when have we ever had a hurricane that required an evacuation of millions of Florida residents prior to the storm hitting? Hurricane Irma was 300 miles wide—an unheard-of size in the history of that area. This created side effects that most of us have never witnessed before—for example, on the perimeters of the hurricane or even in the path prior to the hurricane’s arrival. Huge retractions of water from the beaches were seen—a sight previously seen only prior to a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean! Yet we were hearing about this phenomenon happening over and over throughout the Bahamas and Florida as the hurricane approached.
Flooding? We thought we had flooding during Sandy, but the surges flowing everywhere during this massive hurricane were mind-boggling! Water levels in some places went higher than first floors or even over the rooftops of single-level homes.
Texas experiencing Hurricane Harvey was not much better, although the hurricane swath was not the 300 miles that Hurricane Irma was. Those people suffering from Hurricane Harvey could not care less how wide it was since its destruction was just as deadly!
The additional problem experienced by those in Houston was due to overbuilding in areas once naturally grassed for absorbing floodwaters. The surging waters had no place to go, with concrete or clay lining the streets and yards of Houston. High floodwaters literally demolished homes in their wake. Nearby dams in the reservoirs had to be opened so they would not break and cascade everywhere. This caused even more flooding misery to Houston residents, lasting more than a week before finally receding.
There are still those who don’t believe that the intensity of these hurricanes is being inflamed by climate change. I think we will start to see a rethinking on this subject in the future—even by the staunchest climate-change skeptics! It is time for climate change to be dealt with if we are going to have any chance of lessening the intensity of future weather conditions around the world.
Shanah Tovah to everyone!
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.