An American Tragedy

I think it would be an understatement to say that over the last few weeks our eyes and ears have been tuned to the American devastation wrought in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. As the storms continued and grew much more fierce and deadly our hearts were broken and our wallets lightened… We watched. We cried. We prayed. We gave. Still today, we can’t believe the devastation wrought especially in Puerto Rico… It simply breaks our hearts.

I remember back in 1965, while in the Marine Corps, we went on (what they call) a Caribbean cruise to Vieques, PR, San Juan, and the ABC Islands. It was this same time of the year… September – December. It was very hot and very beautiful… as we ran around the island playing our little war games. I, to this very day remember the white beach sand and the crystal clear waters surrounding this paradise island.

Turn the page… look at this paradise today – post second hurricane. Not paradise today but a hell for those people. I know it seems that we have been slow in responding to this tragedy, but we must take into consideration all that has taken place this hurricane season.

On August 17, Tropical Storm Harvey formed east of the Windward Islands, before opening up into a wave over the central Caribbean three days later. Harvey then regenerated into a tropical depression over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on August 23, and rapidly strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall near Rockport, Texas, late on August 25. 

September featured copious activity. Irma formed in the Eastern Atlantic and rapidly intensified into a Category 5 hurricane east of the Leeward Islands. Irma is the strongest hurricane in terms of sustained winds since Wilma in 2005, and the strongest hurricane outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico on record. While Irma impacted the northern Leeward Islands, Hurricane Jose formed on September 5, peaking as a strong Category 4 before weakening and making an anti-cyclonic loop in the northern Atlantic Ocean. When Katia formed, 2017 became the first year since 1998 in which six hurricanes have formed in a row. On September 17, Maria became a Category 5 hurricane, threatening the same areas devastated by Hurricane Irma. When Tropical Storm Lee became a hurricane, the streak was extended to eight hurricanes in a row, which made 2017 the first hurricane season since 1893 to have eight hurricanes in a row. 

So, from August 17 to September 17 we have seen the effects of Harvey, Irma and Maria. That is a lot of response for the US to do. But even more than that, Puerto Rico was hit twice… within a few days. It seems what the first did not destroy, the second one just about finished them off. Over 40% of the people do not have electricity, running water, air conditioning and are now running out of food… and the banks are now running out of cash.

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We still shutter as we see the pictures and hear the reports of how the people are suffering… and we can’t begin to imagine what this must be like.

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And these pictures are not the bad ones. 

We all need to just stop our busy lives for a few moments and put ourselves in the place of these people: Walk at least an hour to get water for the day. Stand in line to get money from the bank…(while they still have cash) another hour. Stand in a three-mile line to get gas to run a generator… if you are fortunate enough to have one. All of this is in a heat index of 105 degrees. And it has to be done… completed before the curfew sets in for the evening. Your day is gone just getting a couple of gallons of gas and a couple of gallons of water. You have been in line with 40,000 of your closest friends. Oh, BTW you may be sick… but you must go. This is your only chance to survive. Some are wading through waist deep water to get there.

Today we didn’t go see our grandson play soccer at the high school because we would be sitting out on the bleachers in 90 degree heat. We don’t have a clue how these people feel… do we? We don’t really know nor can we imagine what they are going through just to survive. We would have to go back to the Great Depression to get a HINT.

Lord, help us to be the Samaritan and pray for them, and cry for them, and give to help them, keep them in our daily thoughts… in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Grace and Peace
Steve

 

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