The Destructive 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season

The 2017 hurricane season is one for the record books. The National Hurricane Center has described it as an “extremely active season,” for it has produced more major hurricanes than any season since 2005. There have so far been 15 named storms – and the season doesn’t end until November 30.

A storm is a weather event in which the wind speed exceeds 39 miles per hour (mph). A storm becomes a hurricane when its wind speed exceeds 74 mph. Hurricanes, as many people now know, are further categorized by the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale that ranks hurricanes by their sustained wind speed from Category 1 to Category 5. A major hurricane is Category 3 or above.

So far, there have been ten hurricanes, with the first, Franklin, forming on August 7. Six of those ten, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Lee, Maria and Ophelia were major hurricanes.

Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, was the first major hurricane of the season, and it made landfall on August 25 near Corpus Christie, Texas. It then went back into the Gulf Coast, where it picked up a lot more moisture. Harvey then made a second landfall near Louisiana’s border and dumped over four feet of rain on Houston and the surrounding area. Harvey is thus the worst rainfall disaster in US history. Most of the 82 people who perished had died trying to escape the flooding.

Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia all developed in the Atlantic basin at more or less the same time. The last season to have three simultaneous hurricanes was 2010. The current season, however, stepped up its game by being the first recorded to have two Category 4+ hurricanes developing together. It set another record by having three major hurricanes (Harvey, Irma and Jose) in a row.

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, was one of the most powerful storms in history with a sustained windspeed of 185. After thrashing several Caribbean islands, it made landfall on Florida on September 10 as a Category 4 storm. It plowed through the entire state and did not dissipate until reaching Georgia. Roughly 95 of the buildings on the islands Barbuda and St. Martin were destroyed.

Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 storm, never made landfall. Instead, it tore up along the US East Coast bringing powerful winds, heavy rain and dangerous surf.

Hurricane Katia was the weakest of the trio of hurricanes and made landfall on Mexico as a Category 1 storm on September 8. Three people were still killed.

Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, demolished many of the same Caribbean islands that had been struck by Irma a few weeks earlier. It destroyed Puerto Rico’s electric grid leaving the entire island without power.

The most recent major hurricane, Ophelia, was a Category 3 storm that brushed by Spain, stirring up wildfires, before making landfall on Ireland on October 16. The last time an equally powerful hurricane hit Ireland was in 1961.

Why Facebook Dropped the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Relief

In times of global strife, especially stemming from natural disaster, all available agencies seem to step into place and offer easy, direct ways to donate and help make a difference; Facebook has always been at the forefront of connecting people with places where they can donate to aid relief efforts. Previously, the social network acted as a pipeline for donations to the American Red Cross, but in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Facebook has begun to steer donations and donators to a small, relatively unknown charity called the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP).

For many years, the Red Cross was the go-to charity when it comes to disaster relief efforts. In 2013 following Typhoon Haiyan and in 2015 during the Ebola outbreak, Facebook users were prompted by a button on their home feeds to donate money to the cause through the Red Cross. Even now, President Trump and former President Obama, alongside numerous other celebrities and corporations, are donating copious sums to the charity giant. So what prompted the largest social network in the world to break from the norm and reroute hopeful humanitarians to a much smaller nonprofit?

Plainly put, the Red Cross caught a lot of backlash and criticism for how it handled the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the subsequent millions of dollars it raised for relief. Following the devastating disaster, millions of people donated to the Red Cross which collected nearly half a billion dollars to help recovery efforts. It pledged to use the $500 million to help rebuild the devastated areas with new homes, roads, and schools.

However, we’re now seven years after the fact and, while the Red Cross claims to have provided housing to over 130,000 people with that money, only six permanent homes have actually been constructed. While the organization is vastly experienced in the realm of providing emergency disaster relief, it is woefully inexperienced when it comes to rebuilding after a disaster in a developing nation. It also appears to have grievously miscalculated the number of Haitians whom the relief efforts impacted, citing the number at 4.5 million Haitians: Jean Max Bellerive, prime minister of Haiti during the earthquake, notes that this simply cannot be possible as the number of Haitians affected by the crisis did not even come close to 4.5 million.

All of these discrepancies, a desire to get help where it’s needed in as timely a manner as possible, and a goal of changing how people view donations were what prompted Facebook to partner with CDP instead of the Red Cross. In less than four hours after announcing the partnership, CDP reached Facebook’s matching goal of $1 million.