From the Editor: Help where you can after disaster strikes

We sit in front of the television almost everyday, turn on the news and listen to reports of criminal acts we hope to work toward preventing to make distressed communities a safer place. One thing that we have no control over are natural disasters that are already on the path of hitting our beloved cities and neighboring countries.

While professionals can try to predict the strength of natural disasters, we do not know their true power until they finally reach land. With the recent tragedies of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, it is hard not to wonder how these storms could have been prepared for.

Although both Harvey and Irma are still being assessed, Irma broke records of hitting a Category 5 hurricane for three consecutive days, longer than any other Atlantic hurricane. Harvey reached a Category 4 while touching down on American soil, keeping it in the running for the top 5 strongest wind-speed hurricanes at landfall, according to Geology.com.

With unpredictable storm surges and possible hurricanes on the way, we seem to always be on the edge of our seats waiting for the next disaster to strike. What can we do to ease our minds of natural catastrophes?

According to a report by CBS, while it is hurricane season from June 1 to Nov. 30, it is extremely rare for these large hurricanes to occur back-to-back within the same proximity and location. Hurricanes are fueled by warm water, which is why these hurricanes have been so aggressive. Recently the water has been getting warmer, deeper in the ocean. The recent, more aggressive hurricanes fed off water that was up to 2 degrees warmer than usual.

Global warming is definitely a serious factor in Mother Nature’s recent ruthlessness. While the sole reason for these storms isn’t just climate change, it is certainly a reason as to why they are popping up more frequently and having worse effects at landfall.

The big picture is we are not realizing the effects of climate change until it is too late. The smallest steps we take can make an unbelievable impact, especially if we speak out about the issues our world is facing.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if every American kept their tires properly inflated in their cars, we could save 1.2 billion gallons of gas per year. Spending less money on fuel, taking advantage of public transportation and walking in our cities is an efficient way to help our climate. Rethinking our air travel by taking fewer flights can also lessen the amount of fuel that contaminates our air.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters impact a lot more than we think, unless we’ve experienced them first hand. In high school, many of us from the tri-state area faced Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. Schools closed down, houses were flooded and beloved places of childhood memories were changed forever. With the amount of damage done at just a Category 1 hurricane, it is hard to imagine how Texas and Florida dealt with a storm significantly stronger.

Schools in the Houston area were closed down and could not continue with their normal class schedule. According to an article from The Washington Post, Houston apartment buildings, which included approximately 200 students from the University of Houston, were stranded and without power, with rising flood waters reaching their cars. Moving into a new year of college should be a thrilling time, but the effects of a storm this powerful could dampen that.

Because we lack control over natural disasters, all we can do is prepare for the worst in the best ways we can. The bright side of situations like these is looking for ways to help those affected. On Sept. 11, College Board announced that they are giving free SAT registration and CSS Profile fee waivers to students who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. With rates for SAT registration at $46 and CSS Profile fees up to $25, it is a big way to ease the pressure from students after possibly losing assets from the hurricane.

No, we cannot stop natural disasters from occurring or change what we see on the news, but there are always ways to help. Whether it is using more energy-efficient lightbulbs or sending groceries to a family impacted, every small act of kindness makes a difference.

For more information on how to donate or help the victims of both Hurricane Harvey or Irma visit www.redcross.org

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the opinion editor, Hayley Fahey.

Published in the 9/20/17 issue.

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