Could Harvey have been prevented?

Emma Daniels


Trying to deny climate change in the wake of two horrific hurricanes is a disservice to those affected by recent storms such as Hurricane Harvey.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) director William Long said that Harvey was “probably the worst disaster the state of Texas has ever seen.”

With this significant storm, a number of health problems arise for public health officials. Human and animal waste, sewage and chemicals pollute floodwaters and raise questions of whether an epidemic will arise from contamination.

Kerri Outlaw, an associate nursing professor, offers reassurance for those who are worried about outbreaks, saying that addressing the water is one of the first lines of defense against epidemics.

“The reason people freak out is because, in a lot of developing countries, this is what happens,” Outlaw said. “They don’t have the resources we do in this country.

“We most likely won’t see that here.”

While it’s easy to get caught up in the prospect of physical disease, Outlaw mentions that mental health should also be taken into consideration.

“People are seeing family members die, their homes destroyed; if they’re injured, they may now fall into a disability category,” Outlaw said. “That is what we need to be very aware of.”

In the United States, there is already a stigma behind mental health, but physical and mental health are incredibly interconnected. It is crucial that we as a nation make an effort to address the problem and encourage Americans to keep track of their mental health after natural disasters.

There is a serious health risk for not catching mental health problems.

“We will see people with PTSD, we will see people suffering from depression, and then we will see exacerbations of their health,” Outlaw said.

Now, just as Texas recovers from this devastating blow, another threat seems imminent; CNN reports that Hurricane Irma has caused widespread destruction in the Caribbean Islands, devastating the island of Barbuda.

Thousands of people were left without power, and communications between the islands were lost.

While we recover from our disasters, keep in mind that we have plenty more space in America, and those in the path of a storm can flee.

With unpreparedness on the rise, scientists are reminding lawmakers that storms will get bigger and stronger with climate change continuing. Higher temperatures in the air and water allow storms to gain more power.

Will future hurricane seasons now be a barrage of catastrophic storms?

The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory concluded that climate change will likely cause hurricanes to be more intense and yield more rainfall in coming years. The science is here. Why do Americans — and our president — deny it?

Two back-to-back high-category hurricanes should give people a wake-up call that there’s something seriously wrong with the planet. Life is only going to get harder for those of us living closer to the coast if our politicians keep denying that human activity directly correlates to climate change. We must take action now, or it may be too late for our planet to recover.

After this major disaster, and after every major disaster we have had and will have, one thing remains clear: we will rebuild. We always have, and we always will.

So, why do we keep rebuilding when we have the resources to fix the root of the problem?

(PHOTO/ Kevin Glackmeyer)



“People are seeing family members die, their homes destroyed; if they’re injured, they may now fall into a disability category. That is what we need to be very aware of.”

—Kerri Outlaw, associate professor of nursing

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