I am a rock. I am an island.
Two weeks ago researchers from Colorado State University boosted their prediction for named tropical storms in the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Perhaps they were not aware of the fact that we are just now starting to come out from under COVID and we are all dealing with the Delta variant, crazy people on airplanes and an over-run border. We really do not have time to deal with hurricanes right now, let alone more than originally predicted. Don’t these people watch the news? These researchers have now upped the number of potential problems in our near future from 17 named storms to 20. They also increased the number of expected hurricanes from eight to nine. While this is a bit depressing, the good news is that they did not change the number of expected major hurricanes which remains at only four. ONLY four... I know that 17 and 20 seem like almost the same amount. If I had twenty M&M’s and you took three, I would probably not care much, but when you factor in the damage done by tropical storms, this is three more times we will experience flooding, closed businesses, rescues, deaths, wind damage, tornadoes and more. Three more times. The average Atlantic storm will produce between 6 and 12 inches of rain. On the lesser side of the threat, this means 18 more inches of rain. With five storms already under our belts, we should probably consider a few things. The first to be considered is that this is only July. The hurricane season began on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. The second thing we might consider is how distracted the public is at the moment with everything else peppering us like COVID, Delta, politics, riots, the border and everything else. The total number of forecast named storms includes the five named storms so far in 2021. The season's first hurricane, Elsa came ashore on the west coast of Florida on Wednesday. This year is forecast to be the sixth straight above-average U.S. Atlantic hurricane season. The record 2020 season had 30 named storms. The war over climate change continues to rage and so I prefer to sit on the sidelines, observant yet silent when it comes to the issue. If you want to argue that greenhouse gases caused Harvey, Irma and Maria, then you will have to find much more proof that what has presented, yet if you want to ignore the cyclical nature of earth where climates change and threats shift around the globe, I will also leave you to yourself and your ignorance. The truth is, something has been changing, and we paid the price for it that dismal, frightening August in 2017. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded several years ago, “There is evidence that some extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.” Astrophysicist Adam Frank succinctly explained: “greater warmth means more moisture in the air which means stronger precipitation.” As I am more of a “mud on my boots” responder and less of a “politically activated” astrophysicist, you will have to decide for yourself as to the root causes of all of this upheaval, but the change, whether it be global shifts that occur constantly or the fault of rednecks with fire-breathing over-sized pick-up trucks, water temps have risen, water has risen and storms are once again tearing at our coastlines. Now we have a forecast that is worse and few are even paying attention. The population of Texas has changed since the Issac’s storm struck in 1900, so logically Harvey was worse; more people, more businesses and more homes were in its path. A majority of Miami’s residents have now settled within 20 miles of the coastline despite Andrew’s devastation in 1992. Key West is hit every 6.04 years yet continues to be a top destination for those wishing to build high-end homes 16 and dock expensive boats next to expensive restaurants. 347,645 people reside along Tampa’s coast while New Orleans rebuilt after Katrina despite being almost 30 feet below the water level of the Mississippi River. All that to say, something is changing, storms are indeed getting worse, but we are just downright stupid at times, developing and populating land that historically does not want to be developed or populated. Unfortunately, what I am discovering as I write is that many in America watched the happenings in the southern states, the Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico in 2017 and failed to make the connection to their homes, businesses and agencies throughout the rest of the country. Few have realized that this was just an example of what can be knocking on the door at any given time in any location. We grew weary of the pandemic; it did not end, we just got tired of it so we stopped paying attention to it. It is what we do and we do it well. After 2017’s catastrophes I wrote a book about the true definition of the word “unprecedented” and the sad state of affairs we live in because we have ceased to be a country that even knows the definitions of the words in our own language. It is not just the disasters that have changed. We have changed as a people. I present you with a nation that was founded less than three hundred years ago and has already slumped into a populace of those that would rather preserve their comfort for a short time than invest in longevity of existence. We have become soft, lazy and now have even abandoned our own language as we have ceased to even put together small home disaster kits or make continuity plans for our businesses. Hurricanes or COVID, our reaction is just that – REACTION. We are a reactionary people because we abhor planning. Planning is uncomfortable. We actually prefer the drama of racing to Home Depot for plywood the same way we prefer chasing through Walmart in search of toilet paper. In my book I wrote about the word “Island”. If you live anywhere in the Midwest, you are aware that the New Madrid fault lies just beneath the surface of your earth as if it was an evil spirit lurking in the darkness waiting for the right moment to disrupt life in over a dozen states. If you watched the 2017 hurricane season and never tied its lessons to your own predicament, you will, and I guarantee it… you will repeat the mistakes of those in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands because the New Madrid will turn your world into an island. I’m not going to speak any differently than I always have, so here is the un-coated truth: these hurricanes were a lesson for each and every one of us; a class on survival if you will, and it has already been four years… I want to point out the definition of the word “island”. You might find it interesting that when I opened the dictionary, what jumped out at me was the fact that the word “island” can be a verb! Go ahead and look it up. Google: ISLAND DEFINITION You better think that one through if you are employed as an emergency manager, involved in disaster response or work in homeland security. Hell, you better think that one through if you just live in your mom’s basement and are an out of work gamer! Something can ISLAND you! A mistake can ISLAND you! A lack of planning can ISLAND you! “To make into or like an island to place or enclose on or as on an island; to isolate.” The question we must ask ourselves is “Can we island ourselves?” Could your hospital island itself? Your school? Your church? Your agency? Your community? Could it be that this definition has you suddenly rethinking your position and influence? How do we island ourselves? Can we really do that? You can bet the backside of your uniform pants you can. I witnessed us do it in 2017 and we are dealing with a lot more threats today.