“The entire coast of Massachusetts has been compromised and needs to be refortified,” he said. “We keep being told we need to wait for studies. We’re out of time.” – Bob Connors, Storm devastating to Plum Island – The Boston Globe
Every time that I see hurricane or major other storm damage, it hits me like a sharp punch right in the stomach. The reason is that I have already gone through this kind of stressful devastation. So it is a reopening of a raw wound that will never fully heal.
Unless you’ve gone through the utter loss, you can’t imagine its impact on your life and the associated pain, which never ever completely goes away. Here’s the sort of trauma that you have to endure:
In shock, I am standing in the shell of a house on Water Island, near St Thomas. It is my mother’s home and was built to stand approximately 200 miles an hour of hurricane force. It was built by my father and a work crew to withstand, approximately, twenty-five miles an hour above any maximum storm thrust.
In order to be so, it was built with a venting roof to handle changes in air pressure and wind, as well as had three 3″ thick rebars running one yard down into the earth while, also, embedded in each of the building’s 2′ X 2′ X 12′ concrete support columns. In addition, the structure contained other well thought out, protective features. All the same, I am cleaning up the mess left from Hurricane Marilyn (1995) — the second time for such a going-over on account of Hurricane Hugo (1989) having created similar, although less thorough, ruin.
Unfortunately, not much was left of the home this succeeding time. Most of the columns are lying on their sides split in pieces like chopped sticks of butter. My mother’s dresser drawers and clothes were found strew more than a mile away and were even in palm trees. Our refrigerator held its place, but our neighbor’s refrigerator flew through a foot thick concrete wall so as to leave a gaping new window the exact size and shape of its outline (due to winds clocking in at 220 mph in the near vicinity). At the same time, the inner walls held in our home, but the roof, windows and most household items lay spread out everywhere. Even some broken plumbing pipes, ripped from the interior of walls, lay scattered here and there, along with everything else.
Meanwhile, my mother’s grief over this trouble was only superceded by the torment created by the deaths of her husband, firstborn child and parents. At the same time, we wondered that the hurricanes could be so much more powerful than the US Weather Service set as the standard for maximum force. (My father had enquired of the agency about the standards that he should have in advance of building the home, and its members had grossly misjudged them to be at 170 mph.)
Now the fact is that 5 percent of the world’s population (USA population) uses 15 percent of energy resources and creates 20 percent of pollution. Terrible as that is, the desire for energy in my country, and in any other one, is not going to end any time soon. … Yeah, yeah — people can wring their hands about climate change, but it is not going to change the behavior of most people in terms of energy use, especially in the use of fossil fuels.
After the days and days of cleanup wherein I collected mounds upon mounds of garbage to haul in run after run to the dump, the few items that I could salvage from the dilapidated home I put in my mother’s car. I turned the keys over to one of her neighbors and arranged to get the car lashed with heavy metal chains onto a barge that would dock at the island to get the car so as to bring it to NJ, USA.
My neighbor drove it to the docking point when the barge arrived (days after I’d left) for the pick-up. This car (which I used to haul everything on which I could lay my hands except for the few salvageable items in seemingly endless run after run to the dump) and the few items in the car were all that was left except the cisterns and my memories, which had held steady. .
Day after day after day of grimy painstaking clean-up. Unreal! What a distressing mess for more than a week’s worth of time for hours upon hours on end! Emotionally sickening!
I so very strongly wish that I could convince people to curtail fossil fuel use! (It’s not going to happen! So I grieve. … Nobody should go through the sort of hell and ruin that I did with this shocking mess.)
In the end, people need constant reminders to “wake Up” and change ways with ff use. Otherwise, only worsening devastating conditions are coming. It is just a matter of time.
So the benchmark or baseline for climate change is going to keep ramping upward into worse and then more worse scenarios. So if anyone thinks that the way that everything is going now with climate change horrors is bad, well … brace yourself for much harder times to come as hurricanes worsen, oceans rise, shellfish animals diminish due to ocean acidification and large parts of the globe become uninhabitable as the human population continues to simultaneously climb and climb.
Ocean acidification – Wikipedia
The majority of people around me where I live in MA, USA want more and more — not less — energy. They will not stop using ever more. Likewise they will not delimit economic growth by destroying the natural world for development and financial opportunity until forced to do so.
At some point due to increasing energy use and development, it will be an ugly world not able to support the human numbers trying to eek out a living on it, especially as human numbers keep climbing. So I grieve for Puerto Rico … but for so much more at the same time. It’s because I see the hell that is coming and there is no way that I, alarmed at the coming scene ahead, can stop it from happening.
Sally Dugman is a writer from MA, USA.