Hurricane Ida

>> Thursday, November 5, 2009

There's a tropical storm down by Central America, right now, called Ida, born just yesterday. For most of the nation, battling snow and cold, the attitude will likely be a shrug unless it restrengthens later and heads for, say, New Orleans.

But, before we all shrug and go back to dinner, I'd like to remind you of some things. First, the people underneath this storm (that hit as a minimal hurricane with little/no warning today since it was just born yesterday) were the same ones devastated by Hurricane Mitch eleven years ago (almost to the day). Mitch, for those of you who forgot or never knew, is the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since the Great Hurricane of 1780. (For those of you who thought it was Hurricane Katrina, Katrina doesn't even make the top ten). Even though Hurricane Mitch (which reached Cat 5 in the Caribbean before dropping precipitously before landfall) impacted as a minimal hurricane, it did one of the most destructive things a hurricane can do. It parked itself over the mountains of Central America for several days and dropped ungodly amounts of rain. The unrelenting rain flooded cities and towns and triggered mudslides that buried whole villages.

To this day, my throat closes up when I remember reading about people trying to dig through thirty feet of mud to try to reach schools and homes where their families were buried. Death estimates were uncertain with whole towns erased by mudslides and rescue attempts stymied by entire road systems washed away. Deaths undoubtedly increased because of the inability to get to isolated areas with water and food. In this country, we barely heard about it (and I was scouring the news agencies to try to track it as the death toll mounted).

Mitch killed 11,000-18,000 people.

What does that have to do with Ida? Nothing except that same area is currently under a slow-moving storm that hit as a minimal hurricane, much as Mitch hit.

So, if you have a good thought to spare, why not send it down south to some people who are likely going through some level of nightmare they never had the slightest chance to escape.


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