October 16, 2019 update
Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan as an equivalent Category 1 hurricane over the weekend. It is the worst storm to hit the country in decades and was exceptionally large and exceptionally late in the season. Search and rescue is underway today as many places remain flooded because of torrential rains, overflowing rivers, and landslides. One town received 36 inches in one day. At least 72 people have died. Almost 10,000 homes have been flooded. Several one-ton bags of radioactive debris that was collected following the tsunami that hit the Fukushima nuclear plant washed into a nearby river. The government says that there is no immediate danger to the public as they work to recover them.
Remarkably, despite a direct hit, Tokyo remains relatively unscathed. Tokyo spent billions of dollars to build an underground flood control system that includes pipes big enough for an airplane to pass through. Outside Tokyo, the infrastructure is not as well prepared for flooding and that is where we are seeing the most destruction and loss of life. The government has announced $6.5 million from its reserves to cover food and other necessities for evacuees and will pledge more funds as the extent of the damage becomes clear.
FBB is continuing to monitor the situation and will post updates as needed.
September 23, 2019 update
Over the weekend, another named storm, Karen, formed in the Caribbean and has quickly caused damage, flooding, power outages and trapped several people in their homes in Trinidad and Tobago. Though not expected to strengthen, Karen is expected to bring heavy rain and winds in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is too early to know if the Bahamas or mainland US will be affected.
September 21, 2019 update
Tying the record, this week there were six named storms combined in the Atlantic and Pacific: Humberto, Imelda, and Jerry in the Atlantic and Kiko, Mario, and Lorena in the Pacific. Three of the storms formed at roughly the same time on Tuesday morning.
One of those storms, Tropical Storm Imelda began to make landfall in east Texas within hours of forming Tuesday afternoon. Water rescues are still underway today, two deaths have been attributed to the storm, and parts of I-10 are closed due to flooding and damage. The Texas towns of Winnie and Beaumont, where 30 to 35 inches of rain has been reported, are still experiencing dangerous flood levels and several hospitals are evacuated or cut off due to flood waters. Waters are not expected to significantly recede until this weekend.
Hurricane Humberto passed by Bermuda on Wednesday as a Category 3 storm knocking out power to 80% of the island, which has since been restored. There was minor damage and injuries, but nothing catastrophic. Bermuda is however bracing for Hurricane Jerry, which will likely pass by the island next week. It is still too early to know what impacts they may experience from this storm.
In the Pacific, Hurricane Kiko strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane, but did not threaten land. Tropical Storm Mario and Hurricane Lorena were both named Tuesday. Lorena intensified to a hurricane off the coast of the Mexican state of Colima. As it made landfall is weakened to a tropical storm, but regained strength as it approached the Baja California peninsula. Heavy rain, strong winds, dangerous swells, and flooding are expected as Lorena approaches today, with expected landfall again as a Category 1 hurricane Saturday.
September is historically the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic and we can expect more storms and activity into at least early October. We will continue to monitor these and any other storms that develop this hurricane season.
September 3, 2019 update
After more than 48 hours since reaching the northwest Bahamas, Dorian is finally moving away from the islands. Dorian is still hitting some of the northwest islands, but conditions are expected to start improving Tuesday night. Moving an average of just 1 to 2 mph over 24 hours, Dorian is the slowest moving major hurricane (category 3 or higher) in the Atlantic basin on record and is the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Bahamas.
It’s too early to know just how devastating Dorian has been in the Bahamas, but early reports leave no doubt that rebuilding from Dorian will take many years, a lot of work, and a lot of money. An estimated 13,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, which is about 45% of the homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco. Rescue personnel are struggling to reach people who are trapped in their attics. Currently there are 5 confirmed deaths, but that number is expected to rise. The main hospital in Grand Bahama is currently unusable. The hospital in Marsh Harbor in Abaco is operating, but is in need of food, clean water, and medical supplies. The airport in Grand Bahama is currently under 6 feet of water, which will hamper rescue and immediate response efforts. At least 60,000 people are expected to need food and clean water in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Parts of Florida are already feeling the affects of Dorian, currently a category 2 hurricane. Rain, hurricane-force winds, and coastal flooding is expected Tuesday in parts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Dorian is expected to pass the coasts of North and South Carolina on Thursday and could make landfall in that area on its way northeast. The track and timing remains difficult to determine and will significantly affect the amount of impact to the US mainland. Whether or not it makes landfall again, there will be significant impacts from wind, storm surge flooding, and rainfall flooding.
Publish date Sept. 1, 2019
Foundation Beyond Belief is launching its Hurricane Recovery 2019 Appeal as Hurricane Dorian makes landfall on the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas as a Category 5. With sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts over 220 mph, experts are predicting heavy rainfall and storm surge over 20 feet. Since 1950 only one Atlantic storm—Hurricane Allen— has had stronger winds than Dorian. The hurricane’s impact in the Bahamas is nothing short of catastrophic.
Dorian is expected to move towards the Florida Peninsula as a Category 5. According to a story on NPR, “...[National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham] described how the storm is strengthening...Graham said parts of the Florida coast could experience four to seven feet of storm surge, and that historically 50% of fatalities during tropical storms are from storm surge.”
The storm will continue to move northwest along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, bringing with it a serious risk of hurricane-force winds and storm surge.
Please note: All donated dollars will be used exclusively to support recovery efforts for this disaster, either in the form of grant(s) to vetted nonprofits or a combination of grants and FBB volunteer deployments. No donated dollars will be used to support FBB’s operating expenses: 100% of contributions will go to recovery efforts (after credit card processing fees). In the earliest stages of a disaster, it may be too soon to select a beneficiary organization or organizations. When one has been selected, FBB will post information and any additional updates here.
The Humanist Disaster Recovery program is sustained through a partnership between Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association (AHA).
We thank AHA for their generous support of our efforts.