Hurricanes wreak havoc in North America
Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Fiona wreaked havoc in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, over the past two weeks. In the US, the death toll from Hurricane Ian has now climbed to 125 people, while thousands more were displaced. Strong winds destroyed buildings and infrastructure, most significantly in Fort Myers, Arcadia, Sanibel Island and Peace River, FL. The Hurricane ranked as the 24th deadliest storm in US history and is now proving to be one of the 10 most expensive in terms of recovery. Additionally, five people died in North Carolina as a result of flooding and infrastructure damage. According to reports, some 2.8 million people were left without power after the storm passed; 130,00 remain offline. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden made a trip down to the Floridian peninsula to announce funds for recovery efforts.
In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona caused around 30 inches of rainfall and more than 60 people had to be rescued by the National Guard due to flooding. The country’s power grid, which had not been brought back to full capability after Hurricane Maria in 2017, is still undergoing repair, leaving around one million people without power as of 5 October. Moreover, damage to pipelines has left around 760,000 people without access to water. Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi pressed US President Joe Biden to expand federal assistance, saying: “All US citizens deserve the same amount of help, wherever they live”. The federal government is now paying for 30 days’ worth of recovery operations, including debris removal, search-and-rescue efforts, emergency food and shelter, and power and water restoration. Due to the extent of the damage, Governor Pierluisi asked President Biden for an additional 180 days of funding, to which President Biden responded with a $60 million grant from an infrastructure package approved last year. The money will be used for shoring up levees, strengthening flood walls and creating a new flood warning system.
In Cuba, Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 3 storm and destroyed some of the islands most important farms, left at least 8 people dead and 11 million people without electricity as the grid, which was already vulnerable from the devastating fire in Matanzas, collapsed. According to reports, thousands were displaced as the storm dropped 20 inches of rain on the Caribbean nation. As a result, the Cuban government made a rare request to the US for aid, as logistics and supply strains left millions of Cubans without food, water and electricity.
In Canada, Hurricane Fiona killed at least two people, flattened dozens of homes, washed land into the ocean, and left hundreds of thousands in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island without power. Moreover, important agricultural land which produces potatoes, soybeans and apples - the main economic crops of Prince Edward Island - was destroyed. “Unfortunately, the reality with climate change is that there’s going to be more extreme weather events. We’re going to have to think about how to make sure we’re ready for whatever comes at us,” PM Justin Trudeau said as he witnessed the destruction in Nova Scotia. The federal government has dispatched nearly 600 Canadian Armed Forces soldiers to help with the cleanup and pledged immediate aid to residents.