Anniversaries of big hurricanes keep on coming. It’s just the science of the oceans being at their warmest in September, allowing hurricanes to grow strong and last long. Hurricane Frederic was 40 years ago on Sept. 12, and Ivan was 15 years ago on Sept. 16. Where were you?
If you were anywhere near here for either landfall, you have a story to tell. For you, was it storm surge, intense wind and tornadoes, power loss, trees down, evacuation or being stranded, home damage or total destruction? Both storms struck at night making them even more scary.
Decades apart, both Frederic and Ivan were benchmarks for what a storm could do. Spoiled food. No air conditioning. Highway bridge destruction and the inconvenience of long alternate routes for months. Businesses close to never reopen. Insurance headaches. Contractor hassles. Uprooted families. Long-lasting emotional scars. On the other hand, both storms brought out the best in people, helping people.
We got caught in the midst of nature balancing air, moisture and heat via whirling monsters. When we live on the edge of the tropical arena, natural occurrences like those become natural disasters. I call them human disasters because we do have some control over the impact. Personal and community planning and building to mitigate the perils of a storm is an investment that pays dividends in life, stress and dollar savings.
The next big hurricane here will surely produce a similar impact, but the next generation of survivors will also experience loss of satellite TV, internet and cell phone service. What will we do without social media?! Our interconnected digital world will remind us how some of us have lost basic survival skills like knowing your neighbors, who will become first responders when you are in trouble, and vice versa.
The next big one will also be more costly than similar storms in the past simply because population and development on the coast are so much higher than ever before, and because we are a fairly rich society. Look at the size and cost of a beach home on Dauphin Island compared to what it was 40 years ago! We have more stuff compared to decades ago; we have multiple vehicles and multiple TVs in our homes. Many of us carry a phone that costs over $500. Could your grandparents have conceived of that when they were young?!
Even for a medium-sized hurricane or a strong tropical storm, inconvenience and disruption will grow because we all try to cram so much into a day and week, basing our lives on a digital clock, not an analog atmosphere.
When the next big one comes, you’ll be reminded of the value of your life, your health and your comfort. That goes for family, friends and pets, too. Hurricane season runs through the end of November. While we can hope there are no threats here, you’d better have a plan!
For historical recaps of Frederic and Ivan, visit my YouTube channel: AlanSeallsWeather.
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