Responding to Hurricane Irma
By: Sean Declet
2017 GPFL Ast. Treasurer
Photo Credit: The NOAA satellite GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Hurricane Irma passing the eastern end of Cuba at about 8:00 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8, 2017. https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/geocolor-image-of-hurricane-irma
Hurricane Irma is both a challenge and an opportunity for us as the Green Party of Florida. Let us also not forget that Hurricane Season does not end until the end of November two and a half months from now. The conditions that spawned Harvey and then Irma have already spun out 3 more Tropical Storms or Hurricanes. Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 5 this morning in Puerto Rico requiring the mobilization of another 3,700 FEMA responders as the 3rd U.S. State or Territory to become a Major Hurricane Disaster zone in less than a month.
Hurricane Irma has laid bare to all of us in Florida what it means to be on the front lines of the climate crises. The Green Party of Florida along with the United States Green Party has a platform to address the climate crises. We live in a moment where the question before Humanity is not what kind of world we will leave future generations but weather we will have a planet for future generations to even live on.
Hurricane Irma was a devastating storm to the entire State of Florida. Irma sustained Category 5 winds of 185mph for a record breaking 37 hours as she grew in the latest in a growing list of Super Storms to attack the United States. Over 7 Million Americans in Florida and Georgia were ordered to evacuate ahead of Irma. Over 6 Million homes and business lost power. A week and a half latter 100,000s across Florida remain without power, and some still without water. Evacuation Shelters were opened in 66 or 67 Florida counties. Florida’s entire retail business community did not have enough Hurricane supplies (Food, Water, Ply Wood, Gas, ect.) to meet the demand of the entire State bracing for a direct hit from a Major Hurricane (Cat 3 or more) all at once.
Forecasting Hurricane paths is not an exact science. Even the best computer models have a margin of error of 50-100 miles in their projections. When you put that in the context of Florida it meant the entire State was always in Irma path. Irma covered 300-400 miles and maintained an unexpected unpredictable path across the State.
In the days and weeks ahead, the recovery from Irma will bring forth more issues and concerns. Parts of Florida’s power grid will be offline for days or weeks to come still, affecting people’s homes and jobs. Floridians are concerned that FEMA is not adequately equipped to respond to the three disasters that are Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
In raising the reality of Hurricane Irma and her impact the Green Party of Florida in no way seeks to down play the real ongoing suffering of our brothers and sisters across Texas and Louisiana still reeling from the assault of Hurricane Harvey, or those whose lives are threated today and tonight by Hurricane Maria.
When you take Harvey, Irma, and Maria together our climate is demanding our urgent attention now. The time for discussion is over. The Green Party seeks a Green New Deal where we work as one community to save our State and our planet from the devastating effects of climate change. We seek a 100% renewably powered economy by the 2030s. We must rebuild and transition all of Florida’s power plants to Wind, Water, and Solar. We must decentralize our power grid so that when hurricanes come through millions of us don’t all lose power.
We need to be clear that what we are seeing is the Oceans starting to Boil! These are like the early bubbles in a pot of water that is about to explode into a full boil. As the Earths supply of ice continues to diminish we can expect that the planet will increasingly turn to these mega storms as a means to release the heat from the oceans and attempt to cool the planet back down. We need to be equally as clear that even Super Powers like the United States are not adequately prepared to deal with these sorts of global climate conditions. If Maria (or the next Hurricane behind her) threatens highly populated areas of Florida before we are able to restore ourselves and replenish our supplies we will be even less prepared to weather her and to recover from her.
We must also realize that some effects of climate change are now irreversible and others will take decades to subside just as they took decades to build up. We must seek to better prepare our society for the growing magnitudes of natural disasters we must now confront. Florida needs State or Regional stockpiles of hurricane survival supplies. We need to maintain the ability through government programs or regulations to store millions of gallons of drinking water and millions of pounds of ice, canned meats, vegetables, and fruit’s that can be released into the retail economy when tropical or hurricane watches and warnings are issued. Floridians had the monetary resources to be much better prepared to confront Irma and her after effects but we didn’t have access to the supplies we needed.