Hurricanes do not discriminate when it comes to where they to hit or the amount destruction they cause. In some cases, hurricanes do more damage in one area than another for several reason. This can be due to the intensity of the storm or in many cases the preparedness of a country or region to resist damages from a storm. There have been cases where a category three storm does more damage to location X than a category five hurricane does to location Y. The reason for this in many cases is infrastructure and the resources available to the people for recovery.
I interviewed an old classmate of mine named Phil Lukach on Thursday October the 31st. Phil and his family live on Staten Island and lived through hurricane sandy. I figured interviewing someone who lived through hurricane Sandy would be a great way to compare different aspects between what happened in United States with Sandy and in Puerto Rico with hurricane Maria.
From the interview I noticed there were many similarities and differences between the two. In both case people lost access to electricity. The difference was that people on Staten Island where able to get their power back within several hours or days if you live up North. Some people in Southshore had to wait one or two months and these were the extreme case. As mentioned by Phil “The power went out for a couple hours. Most people around me did not get power back for several days. People in the South of the Island had it the worse some people did not get their power back for several weeks”. In Puerto Rico I know it took people months and even years in many cases before people received electricity again. Phil said his family was lucky that they only had to wait a few hours before getting power back his neighbors across the street had to wait two days. Phil Spoke on how the very next day he saw electric companies working on the grid, the same cannot be said by people in Puerto Rico who had to wait weeks.
In terms of damages his home suffered some damages inside and in the backyard. A substantially large tree branch from the tree in his backyard fell on the deck and destroyed the table and parts of the deck. Wind damaged several of the shingles on the roof. Some flooding occurred in his basement and damaged some items they had stored there. He also spoke on how some homes were destroyed and had much more damages for friends and relatives who lived in Southshore. He said “I felt so bad seeing the destruction the storm caused in Staten Island and Brooklyn. Couple of my friends who lived in SouthShore had to evacuate and homes had to rebuild because they suffered heavy damages”. He spoke on how after few months people fixed their homes with help from the government.
Phil spoke on how several people he knew received help from FEMA and that is why they were able to repair issues quickly. This reminds me of Puerto Rico and how horrible of a job FEMA did when it came to helping people. This is also evident from the fact that within first ten days of hurricane Harvey and Irma FEMA sent 100 million dollars to help regions effected but within the same time frame only sent 6 million dollars to Puerto Rico to help with hurricane Maria. This is shown in the figure from below. The discrepancy in money allotted only got worse as time passed.
From the interview I notice that Phil and his family went through similar troubles during hurricane sandy has people did in Puerto Rico during hurricane Maria. A few significant differences were the infrastructure in place and the help received after the hurricane. Many homes in Puerto Rico were destroyed due to strong winds. The homes were not built strong enough to withstand these winds speed usually because of funds and materials available to build homes in the first place. The electric grid is one of the main differences. As we studied in class the electric grid in Puerto Rico is in bad shape and faces corruption often instead of repairs. This alone cause thousands of people to surfer and many to die. In Staten Island most people received energy back within a few days and for some extreme case a month. This shows us that when it comes to hurricanes what causes most damage is not having proper infrastructure and not having enough resources.