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  • Hurricane Hermine Strikes Florida Following a Decade-Long Drought

    Hurricane Hermine Flood Hurricane Hermine - via BBC

    It happened. After a decade of relative calm, Florida was hit by a hurricane.

    Despite only being classified as a Category 1, Hurricane Hermine did some big damage, cutting off power for over 250,000 people in Florida. Despite the widespread power loss, NBC reported nothing was life threatening as far as damage was concerned.

    Flooding in Florida has turned the roads into dangers. One region received more than 9 inches of rain from Tuesday before Hermine even made landfall. After Hurricane Hermine has since weakened into a tropical storm, but major flooding – including flash floods and river floods – threaten parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

     

     

    Even though Hurricane Hermine has been downgraded into a tropical storm, it’s still dangerous with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour. CNN thinks it could even stall off the East Coast for days once it passes the Carolinas.

    According to Rick Knabb, hurricane center Director, “the most frequent cause of life…is from inland flooding due to heavy rainfall.” So just because there is no longer a hurricane doesn’t mean the threat is over. Be aware of the watches and warnings issued for your region. And if there is flooding, stay away. “Turn around, don’t drown” is NOAA’s slogan when it comes to floods. Remember, even just 6 inches of moving water can knock an adult off his feet, and 12 inches can carry away a car.

    Hurricane Hermine is expected to continue travelling up the coast and should reach Boston by Monday, if it makes it that far. This will increase the flood risk of all coastal states due to rain and storm surges. If you live along that route, make sure you have the necessary gear and supplies in case you need to weather the storm. If you’re not in that area, then now’s a great time to prepare for another disaster that could come your way without warning.

     

    Hurricane_Blog_Banner hurricane hermine

    Learn all about hurricanes here: Everything You Need to Know About Hurricanes

  • Comparing Hurricane Katrina with the Louisiana Flood

    Hurricane Katrina - Flooding in Venice, LA - Louisiana Flood Flooding in Venice, LA from Hurricane Katrina

    Today, exactly 11 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast, Louisiana residents are cleaning up from another storm that was far worse than everyone expected.

    At least 100,000 homes were affected in a once-in-1,000-year flood. At least 13 people were killed. Emergency managers said it was the most devastating natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    The Louisiana floods have many parallels with Hurricane Katrina.

    First, both were worse than expected.

    Hurricane Katrina was expected to be dangerous. The day before it hit, August 28, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered the city’s first-ever mandatory evacuation. An estimated 80 percent of the New Orleans metro area evacuated. However, no one, including the Army Corps of Engineers who built the city’s levee system, expected nearly every levee to fail.

    The storm that slammed southeast Louisiana was an easterly wave, a “hurricane without the winds,” as Barry Keim, Louisiana State Climatologist, told Popular Science.

    The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for the area on August 10, saying up to 10 inches was possible.

    That was a slight understatement. In two days, NWS gauges measured 21.86 inches of rain.

    Louisiana Flood - via NPR Louisiana Flood, 2016 - via NPR

    “If this was a tropical storm or a hurricane that actually had a National Hurricane Center name attached to it, it probably would have gotten a whole lot more attention as it approached over here," Keim told Popular Science.

    In fact, the New York Times later apologized for its delayed interest in the flooding.

    Second, not that many people had flood insurance. Flooding is usually not covered by regular homeowner’s insurance but must be bought separately.

    Before Hurricane Katrina, there were about 360,000 flood insurance policies in Louisiana, according to Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon in a story by the Shreveport Times. After Katrina, the number of policies jumped to 490,000 in 2008. It’s at 450,000 now, which only represents about 21 percent of homes.

    About 75 percent of the people whose homes were damaged in the flood didn’t have flood insurance.  Almost half of the people who live in a high risk area in Louisiana have flood insurance, according to FEMA, but only 12 percent outside the high risk zone have it. A high risk zone is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program as an area with at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. About a third of homes that flood in Louisiana every year are outside the high risk flood zone, David LaCombe of UDB Insurance in Alexandria told the Shreveport Times.

    When the president declares a major disaster, as he did for Louisiana, the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a maximum of $33,000 per household for disaster relief.

    “Even if you only have 3 or 4 inches of water in your home, it could still cost you $40,000 to $50,000 to replace the sheet rock, replace the flooring and all that sort of stuff,” LaCombe told the Shreveport Times.

    Louisiana Flood Only 25% of flood-damaged homes were covered by flood insurance - Image via Insurance Journal

    “I think everyone in Louisiana should have flood insurance,” Melissa Becker, assistant director and flood-plain manager for the Rapides Area Planning Commission, told the Shreveport Times.

    After Hurricane Katrina, many businesses and government entities struggled to reach evacuated and missing employees. The hurricane displaced more than a million people, the largest such migration in U.S. history. Infrastructure was destroyed. Total damage cost $108 billion.

    In Louisiana’s flooded area, 22 school districts closed, according to the Washington Post. Some schools are flooded, but the greater problem is finding school personnel. One district superintendent was living in a shelter on August 21, and an estimated 4,000 employees were displaced by the flooding. As of August 22, 2,800 people were still living in shelters in the Baton Rouge area alone.

    We’re just entering the height of Atlantic hurricane season. Right now, Hurricane Gaston is churning about 575 miles east southeast of Bermuda, but is expected to weaken without making landfall anywhere.

    However, two tropical depressions, which could possibly organize into tropical storms, formed Sunday. One is about 60 miles south of Key West, Fla., and is expected to hit Florida and move into the Gulf of Mexico. Another, which meteorologists have been following for several days, formed in the Atlantic west of Bermuda and is on track to bring heavy rain to North Carolina.

    The best thing anyone can do before a hurricane is prepare emergency kits and financial information, have flood insurance and be able to evacuate.

    “You’re still going to have the homes under water," Keim told Popular Science. "You can’t move the homes, but you can move the people.”

     

    Hurricane_Blog_Banner - Louisiana Flood

  • Top 5 Hurricanes to Make U.S. Landfall

    Hurricanes have been a prevalent part of the history of this country. Every year, hurricanes blow through and cause damage. Depending on the hurricane, the damage could be astronomical, or actually fairly mild (all things considered). While we’re in the middle of hurricane season, we thought it would only be natural to discuss some of the worst hurricanes to reach the U.S. mainland. Without further ado, here are the top 5 hurricanes to reach our shores.

     

    1. Hurricane Camille (1969)
    Hurricane Camille Beached Boats - Top 5 hurricanes Beached ships in Mississippi from Hurricane Camille

    Starting things off at number five is Camille, the hurricane that blasted Mississippi’s gulf coast in August, 1969. According to The Weather Channel, Hurricane Camille created a record-breaking storm surge of 24 feet in Mississippi. This record was only broken by Hurricane Katrina.

    Flash flooding in Virginia killed 113 people, and the storm itself killed over 140 people as it made landfall. Hurricane Camille’s wind speeds have never been known, due to the instrument that measures wind speed being destroyed by the storm. However, there are estimations that wind speeds reached 175 miles per hour. Hurricane Camille caused $1.42 billion in damages.

     

    1. Hurricane Andrew (1992)
    Damages from Hurricane Andrew - top 5 hurricanes Damages from Hurricane Andrew

    As far as size goes, Hurricane Andrew wasn’t very large. But, as the wise and wizened Jedi Master Yoda taught, “Size matters not.” With wind speeds reaching a sustained velocity of 175 miles per hour, Hurricane Andrew showed us that a hurricane should not be judged on size alone.

    This category 5 hurricane destroyed around 127,000 homes, marking its landfall with a price tag of $26.5 billion in damages. No previous hurricane – or other natural disaster, for that matter – had cost so much.

     

    1. The 1926 Miami Hurricane

    The Storm That Must Not Be Named crashed its way over Miami on September 18, 1926. Unfortunately, people weren’t as savvy in the ways of hurricanes back then, and as the eye of the hurricane passed over parts of Miami and Coconut Grove, people thought the storm was over. Just over a half an hour later, the eye passed and the hurricane picked back up while people were still outside.

    Around 150 people died due to flood waters, and over 370 died from the storm. The damages are thought to come out around $105 million. Convert $105 million from 1926 to what it’s worth now, and it’s up past $100 billion in today’s funds.

    1926_Miami_Hurricane Panoramic view of Miami after the hurricane - Top 5 hurricanes Panorama of Miami after the hurricane

     

     

    1. Galveston Hurricane (1900)
    Floating_wreckage near Texas City_Galveston_hurricane,_1900 - Top 5 hurricanes Wreckage near Texas City

    Flash back even farther to the dawn of the 20th century. Wind gusted at 120 miles per hour – weaker than many of the other deadly hurricanes mentioned – and yet the death toll was around 10,000 – possibly more. To date, this is the deadliest hurricane that has ever hit the United States.

    Interestingly, the storm continued northward – still blowing furiously in tropical strength through Kansas – and then weakened as it traveled up past the Great Lakes until finally it left the mainland over the North Atlantic Ocean. It doesn’t happen often, but apparently even Kansas can feel the effects of a hurricane.

     

    1. Hurricane Katrina (2005)
    Katrina - Flooding in New Orleans - Top 5 hurricanes Flooding in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina

    Coming in on top as the worst hurricane to ever reach the U.S. mainland is Hurricane Katrina. Still fairly recent, Katrina was a category 3 upon landfall, but its massive size made for widespread devastation as it passed through.

    Hurricane Katrina’s strong, onshore winds created a massive storm surge along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At 28 feet, this was the highest storm surge ever recorded in the United States. It traveled 6 miles inland, killing more than 200 people in Mississippi.

    Another storm surge raised water levels in the canals around New Orleans, making it overflow the levees and flood walls to flood the vast majority of New Orleans. Only 20% of the city was left unflooded. The cleanup process was extensive, taking six weeks to drain the flooded city. Over 1,500 people were killed in Louisiana.

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Top 5 Hurricanes

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