by Alexander O. Onukwue
Less than a week after it witnessed its first total Eclipse of the sun in a long time, America was hit by another natural occurrence of great magnitude, only this time it has brought nothing of the joy that accompanied the celestial.
Hurricane Harvey, the category 4 tropical cyclone that has belted through Texas, has left much wreckage and displacement in its wake. Hundreds and up to thousands of families have had to move themselves and some salvageable properties away from the path of the storms and resultant floods, as insurance companies tally up the numbers on the expected costs. The least evaluation at the moment puts the level of damage done at a cost of $20 billion.
While the dates of the occurrence of Eclipses are perfectly calculated and preparations made before hand, natural disasters like landslides and hurricanes do not give much by a way of a warning before they hit. There was a six hour warning period before the Hurricane developed late in the evening of August 17. The total Solar Eclipse that took place on the 21st of August occurred in a small town of a few thousand persons but attracted people from many parts of the world as tourists. But in contrast, this Hurricane has sent residents of affected communities on panic evacuations away from their homes; the only international aspect is the sympathy and solidarity from around the world.
Compared to other parts of the world, Americans are quite used to the occurrence of Hurricanes, though Harvey is now “the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the contiguous United States”, according to a description on Wikipedia. As at the last day of August, 38 fatalities have been recorded.
There could possibly be no connection between the occurrence of an Eclipse and a Hurricane. The Americans are an advanced scientific society, so there will be no chance of blaming the disaster on the defiance of President Trump in looking at the Eclipse with his bare eyes, would there? He has paid a visit to the affected areas in Texas, pledging to support the Governor of the State in providing support for their relief. His visit was not without criticism from those who felt he did not show the kind of compassion shown by predecessors in previous such disasters by hugging victims. First Lady Melania also had jibes thrown at her for going to the floods rocking her stilettos.
But those are minor details of what has truly been a harrowing experience for many families, some of which have children who have had their schooling interrupted temporarily. It brings back a cloud of gloom over the country, one which, unlike the brief darkness of the eclipse, has not elicited any kind of joy or pride.