Remnant Of Tropical Storm To Hit Wisconsin In Hours, Recalls Another Frightening Storm

Later today Madison and much of Wisconsin will be impacted—only for the 4th time since weather records have been kept– with the remnants of a tropical storm raining down on us. We are expecting up to 3 inches of rain in the state.

Among the tropical systems which have made their way into Wisconsin were the remnants of our country’s deadliest natural disaster–The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, believed to have been responsible for 8,000 deaths in Galveston, TX—though the precise number will never be known.

Eric Larson wrote a book about that massive storm which I read years ago and very much enjoyed. September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed thousands of people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history–and Isaac Cline found himself the victim of a devastating personal tragedy.

Using Cline’s own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man’s heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Riveting, powerful, and unbearably suspenseful, Isaac’s Storm is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets the great uncontrollable force of nature.


Doctoring Weather Maps, Another New Low From Donald Trump

Being a weather geek, and one who wanted for many years to be a meteorologist means the following story caught my attention.  Caring about facts, and also not wishing to see cynicism projected from every aspect of Donald Trump’s White House, means the following story just makes me sad.

It is most appropriate that prominent meteorologists gave no leeway to Trump for giving out incorrect information on the path of Hurricane Dorian.  Even after being taken to the verbal woodshed by many professionals Trump actually–and without any hint of embarrassment–doubled down on his assertion that the storm was at one point headed for Alabama.   In fact, Dorian was never headed to Alabama.  (Does anyone–or anything–go there on purpose?)

Trump claimed those meteorologists who pointed out his lunacy about doctoring a National Hurricane Center map with a Sharpie was meant to “demean” him.”  No, Mr. Trump.  They did not demean you.  You did that to yourself.

In this time when so many under-educated people follow Trump’s every verbal absurdity and think it to be true–and many of them live in the South in trailer parks–the best way Trump could be of assistance would be to convey accurate information.  Those most susceptible to foul weather should have the best information possible.

There is no way to not feel national shame when we witnessed the following events play out this past weekend.

When the hurricane’s path was projected Sunday to go up the East Coast, avoiding Alabama, Trump tweeted: “In addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

About 20 minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian” because the storm “will remain too far east.”

If only the story had ended there.  If only.

But then Trump displayed a doctored map in the Oval Office that showed Alabama to be within Dorian’s path. The map Trump displayed was the same as a model produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week–well before its path along the East Coast had materialized– showing the hurricane’s projected path cutting through central Florida.  But there was one key difference:.  Where the original projection ended, a smaller, black circle that appeared to be hand-drawn with a Sharpie included Alabama in the model.

Asked later that day about the discrepancy with the original map, Trump said: “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Well, Mr. Trimp, the rest of the nation knows.

This is one more glaring example of Trump not being able to admit he was wrong.  It shows that he will go to absurd lengths to lie and convince his base that he is right–even when he is WRONG.  It also shows that he is not capable of acting presidential even when the lives of Americans are in the potential path of a powerful hurricane.

And so it goes.

Nora O’Donnell Goes To The Story

I have been very impressed with the Hurricane Dorian coverage that CBS Evening News anchor Nora O’Donnell has delivered to her viewers.  That has been my view since Monday evening when she started anchoring coverage from Flordia as storm squalls were lashing at the news crew.

But this evening, as NBC’s Lester Holt again sat behind a desk in New York,  it was O’Donnell who reported while hanging on at the back of a coast guard plane, with its tail section open, while capturing images of the devastated regions of the Bahamas.  

I am sure the CBS reporter would not think it proper to be placed in a blog post alongside journalists such as Ernie Pyle and Edward Murrow when it comes to covering stories.  But going to where the events are happening, and allowing for the best effort at conveying facts to a news audience, is the job O’Donnell signed up for.  And she has delivered, just like Pyle did with his writing and Murrow for his live reports from war theatres in World War II. 

Anderson Cooper may look better in a wet T-shirt but when it comes to professional doggedness for getting a story this blogger is mighty impressed with the work of the news anchor for CBS.

Ugly Side Of Partisan Politics Shows Over Disaster Relief For Puerto Rico

There must be no place in our governing process where disaster aid can be limited due to the color of the skin of the victims.  Yet, that is what is taking place when it comes to disaster relief for  hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

The Senate on Monday blocked billions of dollars in disaster aid for states across the country as Republicans and Democrats clashed over Donald Trump’s opposition to sending more food and infrastructure help to Puerto Rico.

When it comes to Trump, and his relationship to Puerto Rico, it is painfully clear there is a lack of understanding.  He stated at the time of the hurricane that the territory was “an island sitting in the middle of an ocean — and it’s a big ocean, a really, really big ocean.”

Well, let us give Trump credit for knowing that the Atlantic Ocean is a thing and it is quite large, but Puerto Rico is by no means “in the middle” of it”.  Actually, the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t technically begin until the “eastern edge” of the Caribbean, which is roughly 550 miles east of Puerto Rico.  Trump never allows facts to deter him from talking.

When it comes to the needed aid package there should be only one concern.  How fast can we take action?

Our citizens deserve to know our government will be there when we need them, not pawns in a political quagmire.  Yes, Puerto Rico has undergone enormous devastation from one of the worst hurricanes it has ever confronted, and that is costly.  But that cost is not where we draw the line when dealing with our own.

And yes, our own! If these victims were in southern Texas or Alabama and lily white the aid would have poured in so fast that it would have appeared to be a green rain storm.

Trump tweeted that “Puerto Ricans “are great but their government can’t do anything right, the place is a mess – nothing works.”   Had he thought about it longer while gazing in a mirror he very well could have added that their federal government certainly is rife with executive incompetence, too.

Along with nasty racism, too, as evidenced by the excruciatingly slow pace of making that territory whole.

Front Pages Of Newspapers In North And South Carolina Show Destruction Of Hurricane Florence

I do enjoy seeing how major events are reported in the morning newspapers. The front pages of newspapers across both North Carolina, and South Carolina show the power and savage nature of Hurricane Florence.  The first front page below–without doubt–was the best front page of about 20 choices. I suspect a photo-journalism award awaits the one who took the picture.

FEMA Paid For Only 75 Funerals In Puerto Rico–2,432 Asked For Assistance

This is simply dreadful.

Think of how you would feel, and be impacted, if this had been your family.

FEMA approved just 3% of applications for funeral assistance from more than 2,000 Puerto Rican families who lost loved ones after Hurricane Maria, according to a letter the agency head wrote to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In response to an earlier letter from Warren, Brock Long, director of FEMA, wrote on Aug. 14 that as of July 30, his agency had received 2,431 requests for funeral assistance from Puerto Ricans related to the hurricane — they approved just 75 of them, meaning 97% have either been rejected or have not received a decision almost a year after Maria hit the island. FEMA’s funeral assistance is intended to help people who have lost loved ones in disaster situations pay for funeral costs, including caskets, mortuary services, burial plots, and cremations.

Although Long did not give a specific reason in his letter for the rejections, he pointed to FEMA’s requirements for funeral assistance. To qualify, Puerto Ricans had to provide a death certificate or letter from a government official “that clearly indicates the death was attributed to the emergency or disaster, either directly or indirectly,”

But getting that information was impossible for many families because, as the Puerto Rican government recently admitted, officials were not counting hurricane-related deaths correctly. Two weeks ago Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló admitted that authorities vastly undercounted how many people were dying because of the hurricane, partly because they failed to provide clear instructions to doctors and funeral homes on how death certificates should be filled out. He updated the official death count from 64 to an estimated 2,975 people, after months of insistence in the immediate aftermath of the storm that there were no errors

Donald Trump Thinks 3,000 Dead Is “Incredible Unsung Success”

Trump said Tuesday that his administration is “totally prepared” as Hurricane Florence barrels toward the Carolinas and Virginia.

Asked what lessons he had learned from the federal response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico, Trump said that his administration’s handling of that effort was an “incredible unsung success.”

However, a Government Accountability Office report released last week found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was stretched thin and faced “numerous challenges” and “complications” in its response to Hurricane Maria. Nearly 3,000 people are estimated to have died in five months after that storm.

Children In Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria With Stuffed Toy Animals

Every year, we collect toys to give to the kids at the local children’s hospital.  But last year the hospital stopped accepting the stuffed ones.  As such, I saved what we had for another worthy cause. When our friend, Laura, became a Facebook friend with a mother in Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria, we found some other children who needed something to hold on to in tough times.  Laura helped us mail these toys to her new friends on the island.  Here then is the spirit of Thanksgiving!   The video was sent to us today and it fills my heart.