The World

The prolonged aftermath of Hurricane Dorian

It’s been two months since Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas on September 1 in the worst natural disaster in the country’s history, according to the Guardian. Even though the Bahamas is 1247 miles away, students in the Dana Hall community have been affected. “The hurricane grew really quickly, and it was really scary,” commented Rachael Chandley ’21, who lives in Jamaica, 770 km south of the Bahamas. “We had some flooding but nothing major,” she added. However, Rachael’s favourite places in the Bahamas — the Grand Bahamas and Abaco Island — have been destroyed. “They have such a cool and rich culture and life there. It is really sad to see the whole island flattened,” she remarked.

Hurricane Dorian began on August 24, 2019, as a small tropical depression southeast of the Lesser Antilles and grew to a Category 5 hurricane, according to Dale Dominey-Howes, a professor at University of Sydney. Houses were flooded, land was flattened, and at least 50 people were killed. There are still around 1,300 people missing. More than 5,000 people have been evacuated from the two islands to New Providence, the island where the country’s capital Nassau is located. About 15,000 people are still in need of shelter or food, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency says. “It was so bad that researchers want to create a new category for this and call it Category six,” Rachael added.

Jeff Nesbit, executive director of Climate Nexus, suggests that climate change is strongly associated with Hurricane Dorian. As global warming intensifies, the ocean also starts to get warmer. Heat in the ocean is a hurricane’s primary source of fuel for the hurricane to grow. The warm and wet air also provides further fuel to a growing storm. Because warm air can hold more moisture, climate change has increased the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, leading to hurricanes that unleash extreme rainfall. “When that water vapor condenses into cloud droplets, it releases a lot of heat into the atmosphere and that’s what a hurricane feeds off of,”  Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric scientist at Woods Hole Research Center said. Hurricane Dorian was particularly devastating because of the way it lingered over the Bahamas. The longer the stalling event lasts, the more wind builds up the wall of water for the surge, and there will be more and more accumulated rain on the same region. According to many scientists, in order to prevent another hurricane of this magnitude from happening, the problem of  climate change and global warming need to be tackled. 

Rachael suggests that the best way to help the victims of the hurricane is to raise awareness and donate. “It is really sad because people will think about it for a few days. Even if you look at the news, maybe they will talk about it for a week and it’s just gone. But it’s still a real issue that people are still fighting every day, and there are thousands of people that are homeless, fighting for their lives, and they have to rebuild everything from nothing. I think [it’s important to keep] just kind of remembering how lucky we are,” Rachael said. She also said that the Sandals Foundation is a reliable nonprofit organization that collects donations and raise funds to restore the Bahamas. “They have hotels around the Bohemian islands. They have resources and people to go and help there and they have the means to aid people,” Rachael added.

Image credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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