On August 30, weather forecasters predicted that Hurricane Irma would be a Category 5 storm -- more intense than Tropical Storm Harvey, which caused massive destruction in Houston, TX and surrounding areas. Irma crossed the Caribbean, wiping out several areas in Cuba, the US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. On September 10, the storm made landfall in Southern Florida as a Category 4 storm, bringing high winds and flooding to coastal communities.
Florida Governor, Rick Scott issued an evacuation of 6.3 million residents to find shelter during the storm, which was the largest such evacuation in US history. Certain cities have already been hit hard.
In Fort Lauderdale, Mayor Jack Seiler told residents that power lines were down and the roads flooded. Tampa, FL mayor Bob Buckhorn said of his city: "We are about to get punched in the face' by Hurricane Irma." While the storm rages on at least 1 million people have been left without power. As Irma continues up the east coast, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina are expected to feel the wrath of the storm.
What you can do:
On Monday, Irma was downgraded from a hurricane to tropical storm, but the recovery from the devastation is going to require a lot of work. Here's how you can help in relief efforts.
- If you feel sympathy for these survivors then support local communities in grassroots recovery efforts in the wake of this tragedy by donating to the Hurricane Irma Community Recovery Fund.
- The New Florida Majority says go local and support Florida grassroots organizations.
- Donate to GlobalGiving. This international crowdfunding community connects people to support charitable causes. Their organization is collecting donations to aid survivors in both the US and Caribbean with emergency supplies and long term recovery efforts. Take action now.
- Save the Children is an international non-profit delivering relief aid to families and children in the areas affected by Hurricane Irma's devastation. Show your support today.
- Donate to GoFundMe's Irma Relief Efforts. Several local organizations in the Caribbean and Florida as well as individuals are using the crowdfunding site to directly assist people in need of help after the storm.
Be sure to check out Charity Navigator's Hurricane Irma page if you want more options.
And then some:
The utter destruction and human toll brought about by Harvey and Irma are unequivocal tragedies when the country must drop politics to mobilize and save lives. But given that Harvey and Irma surely won't be the last natural disasters to bring massive pain and suffering, the debateis on whether it's 'insensitive' to bring up the connection between climate change and recent natural disasters of late.
The policy positions of influential elected officials cannot be disregarded when it comes to the effect the climate has on so many people's health and wellbeing. So, it's no small detail that according to a Miami Herald story back in March of 2015, the current Governor of Florida Rick Scott has "repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary."
Maybe because of Harvey and Irma, the conversation will start to change.
Consider what your city or town's leadership is doing to fight climate change, which scientists say is a cause of this type of destructive weather. The Sierra Club's Ready for 100 campaign encourages mayors to stop using fossil fuel energy and switch to renewables, which will reduce the effects of climate change. Get your mayor to join more than 25 cities in committing to renewable power sources and protecting the planet from future superstorms.