The Leopard

Disaster Strikes

Hurricane Irma swept through Florida and Cuba, along with many other regions, leaving destruction in its path.

Claire Donohoe, Hard News Writer

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The residents of Florida and Cuba faced one of largest natural disasters in years last month. Hurricane Irma has proven to be a devastating storm in more ways than one, leaving families without power, running water, or food, and destroying homes through flooding and intense wind.


Off the lower Eastern Coast of the United States, the massive hurricane threatened the lives of thousands of people living in that area. 132 lives were lost in the storm, as of September 30, and the death toll may still be rising from injury and illness left over. The Florida Keys are still suffering through the hardship, with an estimation of 25 percent of the homes left destroyed, and nearly all the rest severely damaged.


The cleanup will approximately take weeks, whereas the total recovery, months. The cost in damage is expected to be over fifty billion dollars for Florida alone. Irma reached the Florida Keys on September 11 as a class-four hurricane, and didn’t desist until much later that week. Residents of the Keys were encouraged to evacuate as soon as they could, though some chose to stay and wait out the storm.


“If you didn’t evacuate the Keys, you’re on your own until we can actually get in there and it’s safe,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long told CNN on September 9, “The message has been clear: The Keys are going to be impacted. There is no safe area within the Keys. And you put your life in your own hands by not evacuating.”


Hurricane Irma formed on August 30, 2017, only around a month ago, when winds near the surface of the water weakened, and the higher altitude winds remained strong. With its extraordinarily strong winds extending nearly eighty miles out from its center, Irma has brought enormous and life-threatening impacts to Florida and Cuba, regardless of its direct pathway.


“[In the 1950’s and 60’s] South Florida was hit by five category 4 or 5 hurricanes in six years,” said Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University. “Just what’s happened in the past should be scary enough to realize that this stuff can be bad.”


Most hurricanes start out over warm tropical waters, and are technically the most violent storms on earth. They typically form near the equator, in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They’re extremely dangerous, and cause the most damage to civilization and nature when they hit land. Hurricane Irma lasted from August 30 to September 16, amounting to a total of 18 days before the winds finally began to die down.


Several response teams are in the Florida Keys, still passing out food, clothes, and other necessities to residents still in need. Florida is slowly making its recovery, though the cleanup is expected to take months.



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Disaster Strikes