Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Telegraph of Macon on flooding:
The hearts of Middle Georgians go out to those impacted in Texas and Louisiana by Hurricane Harvey. The devastation is unimaginable - for most people - but not for many Georgians who lived through Tropical Storm Alberto that sat over this area as a tropical depression in the summer of 1994.
Alberto’s primary target was Florida, Alabama and Georgia, and while Middle Georgia took a hit, the real impact was felt south of us. No question, Alberto and Harvey were completely different storms - Alberto with sustained winds of 63 mph compared to Harvey’s hurricane force winds of 140 mph. The two storms did have a few things in common. In the end, the most devastating element of both wasn’t wind, but water. Harvey and Alberto sat over their targets and unloaded inch-after-inch of rainfall.
As far as amounts of rain are concerned, there is also little comparison. Alberto dumped about 28 inches of rainfall on Georgia and caused about $1 billion in damages. It’s much too early to estimate the devastation from Harvey, but never has a storm dumped as much water on the continental United States. Meteorologists are still trying to get an accurate measurement, but they know Harvey has broken all records at 50 inches of rain, flooding rivers, bayous, creeks, and everything else in its path.
While Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city with a population of 6.4 million people in the nine county metropolitan area, there are some aspects of that part of Texas most people don’t know about the Magnolia City. Floods bring out critters not usually seen in urban settings from snakes, many of them poisonous, to alligators - lots of them. The water also brings to the surface another pest normally easy to avoid: fire ants. Water doesn’t kill them. It just makes them mad. They are waterproof and they hook together in bunches by the thousands, float along until they find something to latch onto. If that something is human or animal, pain is sure to follow.
While Alberto brought flooding to Macon around Interstate 16 and Interstate 75, along Riverside Drive and the area around Delano Drive and some of downtown, most of the city was dry after the rain stopped. The water plant, now Amerson River Park, was in Alberto’s path and was disabled, leaving residents without water for weeks. Water pickup stations became a normal, daily activity. Macon lost 150 homes to flood waters but nowhere near the loss of 5,000 homes in Dougherty County. Albany was cut in two because of bridge washouts and Albany State University saw extensive damage. Americus and Montezuma experienced damage and death.
Alberto was responsible for 32 deaths, and as of this writing, Harvey is being blamed for 46. Emergency responders and ordinary citizens are better prepared today - and social media, for all of its ills, has to be given credit. When normal lines of communication didn’t work, people turned to their smartphones to get the word out that they needed rescue. One thing hasn’t changed: The human element.
Many of the deaths from Alberto and Harvey were preventable. People, not realizing the depth of water on roads were swept away in their vehicles by fast moving currents. But that human element is also responsible for neighbors pitching in to help neighbors, and in the case of Harvey, Texans, of all stripe, pitching in to help Texans.
Water, while essential to our survival, can invade anywhere it finds a sliver of an opening. Memories have been lost. Homes and vehicles damaged and destroyed. Insurance companies will take a huge hit - as will the U.S. Treasury. The flood insurance program is already $25 billion in debt and Congress will have to act to plow more money into the program. Texans are our neighbors, too. Georgians understand that, maybe more than most.
What we don’t want to see is the same type of fighting that went on in Congress after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is now on the other side of that coming debate. We are sure some of his northeastern colleagues, while saying the right words now, will take it out of his hide and that of others who raised objections to the funding measure.
So as we watch the waters recede, we must keep those hurt by Harvey in our prayers. When the water disappears, that’s just the beginning of their recovery. Those prayers will have to continue for years to come.
The Augusta Chronicle on the potential effects of a second hurricane:
Neither World War II Germany nor Japan managed to hit the U.S. mainland, and certainly not the way Mother Nature is doing this late summer.
Then again, Harvey and Irma appear to have formed their own Axis powers - the former laying waste to much of the Texas coast and Houston, and the latter headed for the Southeast. On Tuesday, Irma dwarfed even Harvey, as a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 175 mph. That’s a monster.
Our warmongering antagonist in North Korea couldn’t draw it up any better in his dreams. If we had a hurricane missile defense system, it would be stirring to life. Irma is an ominous presence, even days from possible landfall.
If it does hit - Florida, the Atlantic coast, wherever - it could test America almost 9/11-like, with two major hits to population centers within weeks.
As Congress returns to work and Harvey cleanup has only just begun, we must face the possibility of a second leviathan descending on the United States. It will require that we indeed be united.
The prospect of catastrophic damage and loss of life and hundreds, if not thousands, of our fellow Americans stranded in or sitting atop their homes must melt away our petty disagreements and steel us for the task ahead.
Even if Irma were to miraculously turn north and only skirt the coast, it’s not a bad idea for Americans to leave our differences behind and act like the family we are.
It’s difficult in any circumstance to fight Mother Nature. The only way to do it is together.
Stay tuned, and stay ready to help in any way you can.
The Brunswick News on college service learning programs:
Every semester College of Coastal Georgia holds an event that shows us how a thriving state college can impact a community.
Local organizations set up more than a dozen booths around the Campus Center on Monday during the start-of-term so students could find new volunteer and community service opportunities as part of the college’s service learning initiative.
This initiative is one we have supported whole heartedly since it began and have enjoyed watching its success.
Monday’s service fair was just one small piece of it all, but the steady stream of students expressing interest in serving their community, whether it’s home or they are away for college, gives us hope for future generations. These youth have shown a desire and a propensity for community service.
As Lea King-Badyna, executive director of Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, told The News, “College students are a great resource. They’re full of energy, they’re excited and they’re ready to make a difference.”
Since the program started in 2010, the service learning program has grown to 29 courses, all of which put students out in the community to help in a variety of ways. These courses often have students swinging hammers for Habitat for Humanity, cleaning up roadsides and creeks for Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, or volunteering to help people secure jobs through Goodwill.
But service learning goes beyond just volunteering. It ties in specific community service activities to academic coursework, offering students invaluable real-world experience.
Students in natural sciences classes have worked with the St. Simons Land Trust on projects at Cannon’s Point on St. Simons Island to create a butterfly monitoring program, invasive species ID program and a living shoreline project.
Chemistry and natural sciences programs worked with America’s Second Harvest’s Feeding the Hungry Campaign, Nursing students developed teaching programs to address specific community needs and students in the teacher education program worked with eighth graders in a living classroom program.
These are just a few of the projects that have been completed over the years. We look forward to what is to come and thank the students, professors and administration for bringing such a useful program to Coastal Georgia.
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