27 Dec 2017: The Year That Taught Us Resilience
How a Hurricane Taught Us So Much in 2017
2017 was a whirlwind of a year with Mother Nature being a top headline across the country. Here at AWS, we are fully aware of how unpredictable Mother Nature is. Severe weather puts us at risk of losing what we hold dear. Although it’s not a pretty picture, reflecting back on 2017 has one important lesson buried beneath its dark surface.
Tornado in New Orleans East
A powerful EF3 tornado ripped through New Orleans East in February – the strongest in New Orleans history. This tornado tore across Chef Menteur Highway and went into nearby neighborhoods. This tornado wrecked hundreds of homes and injured 33 people. If that wasn’t scary enough, five other twisters formed and spun across four other parishes. This prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pledge financial assistance for residents in Orleans and Livingston Parishes. This exposed a significant flaw: uninsured homes. Nearly a third of all homeowners whose houses were damaged were under- or uninsured. This was mainly because most of the residents were trying to prevent themselves against a more common occurrence in New Orleans: flooding.
On August 5th, New Orleans was hit unexpectedly by thunderstorms. Summer thunderstorms are extremely common, but the aftermath of this day was anything but ordinary. Around 25 centimeters of rain fell in just over three hours, flooding several neighborhoods. Many residents lost their cars and basements, while others had to deal with sweeping water out of their house and to take preventative measures against mold and mildew. Days after the flooding, more rain was called for in the forecast and prompted the mayor, Mitch Landrieu, to prepare for a similar outcome and close schools and declare a state of emergency. The culprit to the mysterious rising flood water was eventually pinpointed on the pumping system of New Orleans which led to an investigation and a plan of action to make sure this wasn’t to happen again. Without flood insurance, many businesses and locals were left to reach into their pockets and pay for damages.
Pump station fires
In the height of hurricane season and after the August 5th flooding, New Orleans was bracing for more heavy rain. In the weeks prior, a drainage pump had undergone repairs and was crucial to getting water out of the city. That’s when the unthinkable happened: the pump caught on fire. This sparked more concern across the city as well as caused residents to scrutinize the entire month of August.
Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was a hyperactive, deadly, and extremely destructive season that featured 17 named storms. This made 2017 ranked as the fifth-most active season since records began in 1851, and the most active since 2010. Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, being the first major hurricane to make landfall in the US in more than a decade. It hit Texas as a category four storm, destroying homes, overturning vehicles, sinking boats, severing power lines and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. This hurricane was immediately followed by Hurricane Maria that ravaged several parts of Bermuda, Lesser Antilles, and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was left crippled, and without power, as residents struggled to pick up the pieces with the majority of homes, roads and vegetation were severely damaged or destroyed.
As we reflect back on 2017, it’s hard to see the light through all of the darkness that these disasters caused for many of us. If there is one thing that it proves for humanity: we are incredibly resilient. The power of people coming together to help and lend a hand has been a highlight to show that we are unbreakable in spirit. From all of us at AWS, we hope that you can take this positive sentiment away from 2017 and move forward into the new year. No matter what 2018 brings our way, we are here for you, and we hope you have a happy New Year.