As of early this morning, over 1,400 fires were burning in California with no relief in sight. Many of these fires have been burning for over a week with new ones starting daily. With the weather forecast calling for a chance of more dry lightning, there is a crisis of epic proportions brewing in paradise. Even now, there are air quality warnings in effect for much of the Bay area as the smoke from fires settles over the area. The fire near Big Sur may prove to be especially devastating due to the loss of tourism during the normally busy summer.
Every tanker used to fight wildfires in the United States is currently in use in California. This is very troubling since the fire season usually doesn’t peak until the end of July and first of August. This summer could end up being one of the most physically and financially taxing in many years. President Bush has already declared California a disaster area and thus eligible for federal help.
Now that the levee has broken at Winfield, Missouri, the flood of ‘08 will be hard pressed to keep its position at the top of the headlines. As the rivers slowly fall and the extent of the devastation in Iowa, Indiana and Illinois (along with Missouri) begins to be apparent; the full scope of this disaster will shock anyone with eyes to see. Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes; flooding generally does not physically destroy buildings. Floods creep in, do their dirty work and sneak out. The damage done by floods is not seen looking at a dwelling from the outside. The damage is internal.
Not only does furniture and other personal effects need to be replaced after a flood; of much greater importance is the replacing of ruined carpet and drywall. If said items are not replaced, there is almost a dead certainty of black mold growing. One of the problems with a major flood along a river a wide as the Mississippi is how long it takes for the flood waters to recede. In flash flooding, the water comes up and goes down quickly. In major river flooding it take a long time for both the water to rise above flood stage as well as to drop below it.
FEARS OF HURRICANES
The hurricane season has completed its first month with only one very minor named storm. Is this unusual? Not at all would be the correct answer. Although not unheard of to have a hurricane in June, it is very rare. The components needed to develop and grow a storm into hurricane strength are usually not there in June. July is when the various pieces of the hurricane development puzzle start coming together and August through September is usually when the greatest threat of hurricanes striking the United States exists.
Those entrusted with trying to see what the next few months hold are very concerned about the potential for at least one major hurricane hitting the East Coast of the United States. Most experts are expecting at least one direct hit and possibly two or three by the time the season winds down in October. Areas from Texas to Florida should be ready to deal with potential development by mid-July and North Carolina and points north by August. This is NOT a year to take the hurricane threat lightly.
This has been an exceptionally difficult year for states such as Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Many of these states have been hit with repeated disasters starting with ice in December and continuing to the present flooding and violent storm damage. Missouri saw horrific flooding in the southern part of the state this spring and now has seen disastrous flooding along the Mississippi River in the northeast part of the state. So far, the only silver lining has been that the Missouri River has not reached levels anywhere near the floods of 1993 and 1995.
Iowa was buried with record snows this past winter and then inundated with incredible storms this spring and early summer. It is no wonder that when areas were hit with a half foot of rain a few weeks ago, the inevitable result would be massive flooding. Earlier this year Arkansas was hit repeatedly with deadly tornadoes which claimed many lives and caused extraordinary damage. Also this spring the major rivers in Arkansas reached historic levels and caused extensive damage.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
It has been a rough year for middle America and the year is only half over. Although the emphasis now switches to the western fires and potential hurricanes in the southern and eastern United States; I pray all remember the all those who will still be suffering in middle America when the rest of country sits down to Thanksgiving dinner. It takes time to recover from tornadoes and floods even when on a small scale. It takes “forever” to recover from repeated disasters impacting thousands upon thousands of people covering almost one third of this country.
I am sure those who have lost everything to storms and floods would greatly appreciate your prayers and any help that you could send via your favorite charity. Many groups are working as hard as they can to help as many as possible. They are all spread very thin and have pretty much exhausted their resources. If you want to help, please contact the American Red Cross, Salvation Army or numerous small independent charities working I disaster areas.