September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma is currently making its way to Puerto Rico after wreaking havoc the Caribbean Islands. According to CNN, Irma boasts winds of around 185 miles per hour and is rated as a category five on the hurricane scale, the highest storm rating possible. Barbuda, a small island in the Caribbean, was hit hard on Tuesday and Wednesday leaving what Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of the island, called “total devastation.” According to Browne, over 90 percent of the small island was destroyed and an estimated 60 percent of the population is now homeless.

Irma is predicted to continue towards Florida and the southeastern United States within the next few days and is predicted to make landfall as soon as Sunday. If the storm does make landfall in the U.S., it is on track to break records. Ranked as a category five, Irma currently stands as one of the most powerful hurricanes to date. Irma has already broken records for wind speed, holding winds for over 24 hours at 185 mph. One of the most powerful storms to make landfall, many officials are apprehensive as it grows and nears the Florida Coast. According to CNN, the chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated that “No community is prepared to be hit by a category four or five hurricane.” Florida officials have urged residents to listen closely for orders of evacuation over the next 48 hours.

As Irma approaches, many officials are worried what damage the storm may cause as the many are still recovering in Texas and Louisiana. Harvey made landfall Friday night near Rockport, Tx. The storm continued up the coast of Texas, concentrating most of the property damage in Harris County. After six days, the storm made landfall west of Cameron, La. at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. The storm then dissipated into a tropical depression after moving off into the coast by the end of Thursday.

According to CNN, “Harvey is the first category four hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Charley in 2004.” Although the hurricane’s 130 mph winds caused a significant amount of damage, officials watch as Irma is sure to continue breaking records with winds that currently are more dangerous than those seen during Harvey’s landfall last week.

Jamie Aten, founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton, said that Harvey is “possibly the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. since Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005.”

According to CNN reporter Jackie Wattles, “between $25 billion and $37 billion worth of flood loss has hit homes across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. Only about $6.5 billion to $9.5 billion of those costs will be covered by insurer.”

According to Jeffrey Linder, the meteorologist for Harris County flood district, 25 percent to 30 percent of the 1,800 square miles are flooded. The Harris Police Department reported to have rescued over 3,500 from flooding early this week. The county’s fire department reported that they had rescued another 400 and the Harris county sheriff reported rescuing roughly 2,200.

Although the death toll for Harvey is 70 — less than Hurricane Katrina — The New York Times cautions that these numbers may still rise in the aftermath of the flood.The Harris Police Department reported to have rescued over 3,500 people from flooding by early this week. The fire department reported rescuing 400 people and the Harris county sheriff reported rescuing roughly 2,200. Shelters have been opened all over the state in response to the overwhelming amount of victims seeking relief, with the majority of shelters centered in Houston.

According to Belle Bryant, a Wheaton College Junior and Florida native, evacuations have begun in Southern Florida in anticipation of similar damage seen along the Texas coast. Bryant’s father, a member of the Army National Guard told The Record that they are prepared for the storm and are planning accordingly for possible flooding and damage. Water and food rationing at local stores has been enacted so that communities are able to get the supplies needed. The National Guard also has a supply of MREs and water for residents and shelters as Florida prepares for the second record-breaking storm to hit the United States in the past few weeks.