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Natural Disasters

    2017 has been a year of disasters. From intense flooding across the globe to massive earthquakes in Mexico, our planet seems to be fed up with the parasitic human race. But how the media covers these tragedies greatly impacts not only the people affected by them, but also how they will repair their lives. When I joined Blog Whatever I decided to research three recent natural disasters: a monsoon in Southern Asia (India, Nepal, and Bangladesh); Hurricane Irma, which affected the Virgin Islands and parts of Florida in the US; and, Hurricane Harvey, which did some damage to the Virgin Islands but mainly wreaked havoc across southeastern Texas in the US. I started to notice that I could find hundreds of articles about damage done to the United States, but when it came to less powerful countries such as Barbuda in the Virgin Islands or India, the articles were scarce, and hard to come by. So I asked myself, why aren’t these nations being covered by the media?
    The Monsoon caused the heaviest rains in south Asia in 20 years and killed at least 1,200 people. Forty-one million people were displaced from their homes due to flood damages and the intense rains led to landslides that damaged homes, farms, and electrical towers. On top of all this, the floodwaters carried rubbish from the street into places like King Edward Memorial Hospital in Central Mumbai, who had to evacuate their children’s ward for fear of infection. In Bangladesh alone, 7.4 million people were affected by this storm and over 697,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Across the region people waded through waist-deep water to catch the bus, to go to work, get groceries, to pick their kids up from school. Speaking of schools, more than 18,000 were damaged, preventing 1.8 million kids from receiving education. Here’s a quote from Afay Hussain, Save the Children’s general manager in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, “We haven’t seen flooding on this scale in years and it’s putting the long-term education of an enormous number of children at great risk. From our experience, the importance of education is often undervalued in humanitarian crises and we simply cannot let this happen again. We cannot go backwards.” Despite being thousands of miles away from the part of the world affected by this I can’t help but feel incredibly sad. Millions without education, thousands without a home, and what are Americans doing? Certainly not starting GoFundMe’s or posting #prayforBangladesh. I could find very few articles on the storm, and there was virtually no media buzz about the intense rain. Why oh why in this media-centered world are we so uneducated about what’s happening globally?

    Hurricane Irma, on the other hand was easy to research, but it was much harder to find articles focusing on the storm’s first target: the Virgin Islands. One of these islands, Barbuda, population 1,800, is one of these islands, and in preparation for Irma, the entire island was evacuated, and for good reason. Irma hit Barbuda on September 6th as a category 5 storm with 185 mph winds. Ninety-five percent of all structures on the island were completely destroyed and it will take an estimated $300 million to rebuild the nation. Ronald Sanders, Barbuda’s Ambassador to America, told PRI’s The Takeaway “ The damage is complete. For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda---a civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished.” Ambassador Sanders is calling on other nations for help, as Barbuda with a GDP of a mere $1.4 billion (a mere fraction of the U.S.’s $18.57 trillion GDP), simply doesn’t have the resources to rebuild on their own. “We have declared a state of emergency in Barbuda because it is a complete disaster and uninhabitable,” said Sanders “We cannot cope with our own resources alone.” Later that same day the storm moved through the rest of the Virgin Islands, maintaining her category 5 status and 185 mph winds. Unfortunately I had some trouble finding articles reporting the damage the storm did here. By September 10th, the storm had reached the Florida Keys (a grouping of islands off the southern coast of Florida). Irma had grown to the size of Texas, and slowed to a category 4, with wind speeds of 140 mph. Next hit was the city of Naples, FL later that same day. By this time the storm had downsized yet again, now a category 3 with wind speeds of 130 mph. Irma moved north across florida, covering the entire state as it went. Thankfully the time over dry land wore Irma out, and by the time she reached Jacksonville, the storm couldn’t even be categorized as a hurricane anymore. The once-terrifying Irma’s wind speeds had been reduced to a measly 70 mph and Jacksonville met the beast as a mere tropical storm. Why didn’t we talk about the damage done to Barbuda? It felt like everywhere I looked I could see some article or video about “Floridians shoot at Irma” “everyone in Florida turn on your fans to blow irma away” but where were the serious articles talking about the serious amounts of damage done to the U.S. and Virgin Islands?

`I could talk about Hurricane Harvey, but honestly I feel like it would be a waste of time. There are so many articles out there about Harvey and the point of this article was to talk about the destruction nobody’s talking about. Yes Harvey caused immense damage, yes we should provide the victims with support and resources to rebuild, but we should also be talking about disasters in other countries. If you want to learn about the devastation Harvey caused, I’ve included some links below to articles I used for research (sorted by disaster).

    I think that because the U.S. is so powerful and wealthy, we owe it to smaller countries to help them in their time of need; and the first step to helping these people is talking about the devastation that has occurred. If nobody knows what’s going on how can anybody help anybody? In this day and age news stories are exactly that: stories. They are based in truth but everything from word choice, to select information being included or excluded are choices made by the writer (and news networks) to manipulate the populus. They work us into a rage over sports, or celeb mishaps, distracting us from the actual issues in the world. I think the news should be reporting NEWS: humanitarian crises, local events, the weather, traffic, FACTS about political elections. Things that the people need to be educated about to be productive members of society.


Hurricane Irma:

Hurricane Harvey: