If only these disturbing scenes of natural disasters’ fury were clips from last week or the week before. But no, the hits just keep coming:
Brigades of volunteer rescuers continue to claw through the rubble of Mexico City and surrounding towns in desperate hope of stemming the growing death toll of Tuesday’s powerful earthquake. The 7.1 magnitude killer rocked central Mexico just a week after an even bigger one struck to the south and just hours after the capital commemorated the anniversary of the 1985 quake that killed thousands.
As Mexico dealt with the earthshaking fallout of its unpredictable tectonic plates, residents of Puerto Rico and their Caribbean neighbors hunkered down in shelters to wait out the 155 mph winds of Hurricane Maria. The deadly Category 4 storm began its march across the U.S. territory early Wednesday after beating up a handful of nearby island nations.
The dire warnings around Maria have been eerie carbon copies of those delivered in recent weeks to Texas and Florida as predecessors Harvey and Irma pounded the regions and left many dead. Victims of those storms are only now beginning to pull their lives back together.
While at least Mexico also can begin to dig out, Hurricane Maria’s still-unpredictable path leaves thousands on the front edge of uncertainty. The storm, the first of this magnitude to sweep through Puerto Rico since 1932, is all the more dangerous because it is also slow-moving.
In coming days, Maria may well trace its destruction over the same islands struck by Hurricane Irma. It’s too early to know whether its course will eventually target the U.S. mainland.
Yes, it does feel like Mother Nature is just done with us. Even those at the always-sturdy National Hurricane Center acknowledge that they are “starting to run out of adjectives.” Forecaster Michael Brennan summed it up simply as “horrifying.”
As tempting as it is to try to create some overarching narrative out of all this churning of natural violence, scientists remind us of the facts: We are in hurricane season. Mexico is earthquake-prone. Nature is unpredictable.
That’s little solace amid the pileup of hurricane and earthquake devastation, not to mention the record-setting wildfires that have burned up more than 12,500 square miles of western America.
But the silver lining in this chaos is that time and time again, nature’s wrath is answered by steely human resolve.
You see it in southeast Texas, where — weeks after Hurricane Harvey is no longer at the top of the news — residents and volunteers from all over the state and nation work tirelessly to rebuild lives.
In Mexico, that spirit is fueling the makeshift bucket brigades that pass along not water but boulders and concrete as they seek to find survivors amid scores of collapsed schools and high rises.
And in Puerto Rico, still in the midst of a storm that its governor says has decimated parts of the island, also comes a message of perseverance. “Our only focus right now should be to make sure we save lives,” said Ricardo Rossello. “But we are going to rebuild.”
Those of us lucky enough to be spared from this summer of destruction can do more than marvel at the responses of courage and resolve. Let us each lend a hand in whatever way we best can.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS (TNS)