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Volume 31, Issue 2

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Friday, 08 June 2018 15:07

This Time Last Year: A Look Back at the 2017 Hurricane Season

The 2017 hurricane season was one for the record books, with four major storms and three more minor ones impacting the U.S. and the Caribbean.

What’s worse, several of them hit land in more than one location — causing additional devastation. There were hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and over 100 deaths attributed to the four main storms alone, making 2017 the costliest hurricane season on record for the United States. Ten of the total 17 named storms for the year reached what is considered hurricane force. When you consider the amount of damage and loss of life, you have to consider: is there any way that businesses and individuals could have been more prepared?

The Major Hurricanes of 2017

The four major hurricanes of 2017 were named Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate. Starting life as tropical cyclones off the shoreline of the U.S. and the Caribbean, they devastated locations such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Louisiana and South Texas. Hurricane Harvey lingered over Texas and Louisiana, making landfall multiples times and causing over $180 billion in damages. More than 30,000 support personnel at the federal level were mobilized to help with cleanup and support efforts. Hurricane Irma came next, with serious storm damage occurring in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean, specifically on the island of Barbuda where more than 90% of buildings were damaged. Irma was “only” a Category 4 storm, but she left behind nearly $200 billion in damages, killed 129 people and caused 40,000 federal personnel to be mobilized.

Hurricane Maria had a catastrophic impact on Puerto Rico, where the Category 4 hurricane stripped the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants of power and basic necessities. While the small country continues to rebuild, it will take years to restore everything that was damaged. Nineteen thousand federal personnel were dispatched to help support the area, where an estimated $95 billion in damages were caused by the storm. Hurricane Nate was the weakest of the four, barely reaching a Category 1 with limited power to cause widespread devastation. Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were hardest hit by the 90 mph winds. Damage was worse in South America where Nate was strongest — causing extensive flooding, landslides and 45 deaths.