Horrific Storms That Worried, Confused and Tortured Everyone

By HUNTER BOWDOIN LEACH

1,598, 2,856 and 2,633. This is how many miles away Thornton students were were from their loved ones as they worried about them facing treacherous hurricanes, earthquakes and fires.

Since the start of school this fall, 149 people were killed during the horrific earthquake in Mexico City. According to CNN in the same month, “Over 122,000 acres were burned in California, much of it the lush, picturesque landscape of the state’s beloved wine country.” The area impacted in Napa and Sonoma was three times larger than Washington, D.C.  Roughly 200,000 people were ordered to leave their homes with 49 people died in California due to raging fires. And on the other coast in Florida, homes of roughly 7 million people were hit during hurricane Irma, 134 people were killed.

Add to those events horrible devastation in Puerto Rico, Texas, and on many Caribbean islands. Mother Nature had a busy, bad ass fall. Although these dramatic weather events were far away from home, they affected many T.A. students directly.

Valentina Flores Caceres is an international student spending her senior year at Thornton. Her father and his family live in Mexico City where the initial impact of the most recent earthquake occurred.

“I felt powerless,” said Flores. “I wanted to go help, but I couldn’t.” She was happy to hear that everyone had open doors for whoever needed help. People helped others by sheltering those who needed it.

The 7.1 earthquake shook Mexico City making it the second worst earthquake ever. It caused major destruction, and many buildings and structures were destroyed. People were killed and many families had nowhere to stay for days. What people don’t understand is that even when you’re not hurt physically, disasters can take an emotional toll.

Normal reactions to tragic weather events may include intense, unpredictable feelings; trouble concentrating or making decisions; disrupted eating and sleeping patterns; emotional upsets on anniversaries or other reminders; strained personal relationships; and physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea or chest pain. Psychological research shows that most people are able to successfully recover from disaster, but taking active steps to cope is important.

Flores is not the only person facing the wrath of the storms impacting families who live far away from Maine, many people are and we shouldn’t be going through it alone. Flores and her family are strong and this event makes them closer than ever.

James Fitzpatrick is also another senior who has lived in Maine and goes to Thornton Academy. His grandparents were in California during the historic wildfire. James said, “I was actually suppose to go visit them next month but because of the fires my mother doesn’t think it’s safe at the moment.”

According to the New York Times, as of October 12th, 21 major fires were burning five days after the threat of wildfires began and they had consumed more than 191,000 acres and killed 29 Napa Valley residents.

Fitzpatrick felt helpless watching the burning landscape on television and said,  “I am only one person and don’t have the manpower to change or help anyone, my grandmother and grandfather could see out the backyard window the line from where the fire came too close for comfort.”

Luke is a Thornton Academy senior, who has lived in Maine his whole life. His family was stuck in the middle of hurricane Irma which destroyed thousands of houses, and people’s lives.

He said, “I felt sad, lonely and scared because I have family that were stuck in Florida and the flooding took out all the service in that area so no calls where getting through.” He continued to say that many people around the area lost everything and had nowhere to go, and no simple appliances. “I wish they lived here in Maine because the worst weather we get are snow stormes.”

Little did he know what was headed our way in late October in the form of an unexpected rain and wind event that knocked out power for 1.2 million Mainers. After a week, some were still waiting for power to return!

Senior Maria Serneres who lives in Saco said, “It wasn’t till friday night that our power was turned back on, we lasted from Monday early morning to Friday night.” Their family did not have a generator so she stayed at a friend’s house for most of the time without power. 

The crazy events this fall have left many wondering what is in store for this winter.   

WCSH6 predicts weather in Maine this winter will be a mixture of  “The cold, the dry, the wet, and the wild.” Their team suggests “colder-than-normal temperatures for eastern and central regions.”

According to alum Tyler Cadorette ‘10, meteorologist for WMTW-TV channel 8 News, “It’s hard to say exactly what this winter will look like, but the forecast suggests that it may be slightly warmer than average and active in terms of storms. No guarantees that will be the case (it’s been off many times before), but being prepared for a harsh winter is always better than being caught off guard.”

Many businesses went through a lot making sure that losing power wasn’t an issue, like Pratt and Whitney. For a huge corporation, they can’t afford to lose power, so they make sure they have every outcome figured out.

There is an upside to this crazy unpredictable fall. Many find themselves feeling more connected to neighbors than ever in the wake of the storm and reminded to appreciate the small things like a warm dry bed and water. As one anonymous quote on Tumbler reminds us, “Struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you gotta know what falling down is like.” 

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