Hurricane Michael has hit the Floridian coast and it has been reported to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit American soil. It’s already gotten a Category 4 status and some sources report a near-Category 5 status with 155 mile per hour winds.
In the News: Hurricanes have historically brought destruction to many regions across the States, forcing families to relocate and some to deal with the aftermath with various levels of government aid and assistance. As of 1:15PM EDT Oct 10, 2018 the National Weather Service has issued the announcement that “this is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation.”
The damage caused by destructive storms tends to provoke commentary about government aid, where politicians are watched closely for how they handle an unfolding crisis. Going back to 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, the federal response was under much scrutiny for its lackluster response to send aid in a timely and effective manner. More recently with Hurricanes Maria and Irma, President Donald Trump was criticized for throwing paper towels into a crowd of disparaged residents who were seeking help, suggesting the President’s actions were inadequate to deal with the severity of the situation. Other politicians are frequently criticized for their aid efforts for what they provide (or lack thereof) and if their actions prove contrary to their platforms.
Between the Lines: Media outlets have tended to dramatize the effects of destructive weather, sometimes to the point of embarrassing showmanship. During Hurricane Harvey the Weather Network was accused of exaggerating the strength of the winds - and in a video which has since gone viral, a weatherman struggles to battle the force of the winds, meanwhile in the background two people walk past at a leisurely pace. As the story of Hurricane Michael unfolds, The Guardian has already ludicrously suggested a need for a non-existent, Category 6 status in order to describe the power of the hurricane. Based on the intent and scope of the existing categorization system, a Category 6 classification is a purely rhetorical exaggeration, intended to provoke a sense of danger and sensationalism.
In quantitative terms, the damage caused by this hurricane will be inevitable and it’s a matter of scale and numbers affected that should dictate any reasoned dialogue.
What We’re Watching For: It will be interesting to see how media outlets continue to highlight the urgency of this impending storm as it makes landfall and where exaggerations will be made for the sake of a good story. Political commentary will undoubtedly surface based on the quality and timeliness of the aid in the days and weeks to come. If you care to transcend armchair activism and help those who will be affected, consider searching for direct methods of donating financially via your preferred disaster relief organization.