Disasterology: September 2022
This newsletter is a compilation of recent disaster ~things~ that I think are cool, important, or otherwise of interest to people who are intrigued with disaster (broadly defined).
There’s a little something for everyone!
What a day to send out a disaster newsletter.
In my fifteen years of working, studying, and teaching disasters I have learned that there are some moments when the best way to help is by simply being quiet. These are the times when the noise is so loud, your voice won’t break through anyway. It is those moments when everyone on the internet becomes a disaster expert, when people’s own disaster trauma resurfaces and they lash out in pain, when someone sees an opportunity to get attention, and when some people think being right is more important than being empathetic. Today, it’s too loud.
Today I’m going to look for the power in being quiet… before we have to be loud again to fight for the most basic resources that people across the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and the rest of the country need to simply survive.
If you also want to be quiet today, to listen rather than speak, I’ve pulled together some articles written in the 10 days since Hurricane Fiona crossed Puerto Rico. The storm brought as much as 30 inches of rain and left the entire island, once again, without power. Today there are still over a quarter of a million Puerto Ricans in the dark. As readers of this newsletter, it will not be a surprise to you that obviously Puerto Rico had not yet recovered from Hurricane Maria, that vulnerabilities of all kinds compound on one another, that the relationship between Puerto Rico and the federal government prevents change, that emergency management agencies don’t have the resources to do what we need them to do, that the national media is failing Puerto Rico, and that people are very, very tired.
On Anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Storm Leaves Puerto Rico in the Dark by Laura N. Pérez Sánchez & Patricia Mazzei and photographs by Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times.
Five Years After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans Face the Nightmare All Over Again by Angely Mercado for Gizmodo.
Solar Power Is Helping Some Puerto Ricans Avoid Hurricane Fiona Blackout by Mariah Espada for Time.
“Hurricane Maria never finished leaving us”: The Aftermath of Fiona in a Puerto Rican Town by Alana Casanova-Burgess for The New Yorker.
The river roared into their homes: A town in Puerto Rico struggles after Hurricane Fiona by Syra Ortiz-Blanes for the Miami Herald.
Climate disaster isn’t a game. When will the U.S. stop pretending it is? By Ricia Anne Chansky Sancinito for The Washington Post.
Puerto Rico’s electricity problems go beyond Maria and Fiona by Fernando Tormos-Aponte, Mary Angelica Painter, and Sameer H. Shah for The Washington Post.
I know that for many of you Hurricane Season is an anxiety-ridden time of year. The reprieve earlier in the season was much needed after five years of hurricane hell. As I say every year, “It only takes one”… or two…and hopefully not three. For those of you in disaster’s path and those working today’s disasters – stay safe.
A Weird Disaster Thing
I’m going to try really hard to leave us with something to laugh about.
Whenever there is a hurricane (and sometimes other hazards too) this photoshopped picture of a shark on a highway resurfaces.
The photo is paired with a tweet that says something like “sharks are roaming the streets of Houston”. This can, understandably, bring concern to the people who are unfamiliar with the hoax (which is bad) but it also brings comedic relief to the weather/ disaster folks who are in on the joke. Look, we really need something to laugh about so let us have this.
Anyway, it popped up again a couple of weeks ago and, because I’m in the midst of reading a book on the history of the Red Cross, it occurred to me that we should name the shark Clara Sharkton (as in Clara Barton). This is very silly but this is disproportionately funny to me and it would warm my heart to see it catch on. So, if in your travels you see the Hurricane Shark, feel free to call them by their new name.
The End Bits
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In case you signed up for this newsletter without knowing who I am (a bold choice!) you can read my book Disasterology: Dispatches From The Frontlines of The Climate Crisis to catch up! You can read a USA Today review here, order it here, or get it as an audiobook here. You can also find more from me on my blog, listen to this episode of Ologies, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram where I impulsively narrate my every thought.
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