Heat and havoc as severe weather assaults the U.S.By Richard B. Muhammad and Nisa Islam Muhammad -Final Call Staffers- | Last updated: Jul 11, 2012 - 10:28:54 AM
(FinalCall.com) - America has been hit hard by an enemy she can’t stop: Severe heat and deadly weather.
At Final Call press time, news outlets were reporting nearly 20 heat-related deaths in Chicago this summer, which suffered through three days of 100-plus degree temperatures beginning July 4. The heat was blamed for 46 deaths nationwide.
A welcome reprieve were predictions of temperatures in the 80s in the Midwest, while the South and Mid-Atlantic regions were expecting thunderstorms and rain. In the Southeast and Tennessee Valley, temperatures were expected to reach the low 90s, according to the Associated Press July 9. In addition to death caused by overexposure to heat, lives were lost as people sought relief in pools and beaches with tragic results.
The oppressive temperatures were compounded by a lack of electricity along the East Coast as outages left hundreds of thousands without power or air conditioning for days.
When weather strikes in such powerful ways, it is common for a writer or two to throw in phrases like disasters of “biblical proportions.” That doesn’t go far enough. It may describe some of nature’s fury, it doesn’t speak to the reason for the fires, drought, suffocating heat, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.
In the Bible and the Holy Qur’an, the havoc isn’t attributed to global warming or changes in weather patterns it is a result of God’s judgment and God’s anger against wicked nations or rulers who refuse to free his people and bow to his will.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has continually warned of increased natural disasters and extreme weather as Allah (God) continues to bring America to her knees. The United States is being punished for her mistreatment and murder of the Black man and woman. Fulfilling the prophetic role of a modern Egypt, she has refused to let the people of God’s choice today, Black people, go free, according to the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
“The four great judgments that Almighty Allah (God) is bringing upon America are rain, hail, snow and earthquakes. We see them now covering all sides of America, as the Holy Qur’an prophesies curtailing on all her sides. And these judgments would push the people into the center of the country, and there they would realize that it is Allah (God) Who is bringing them and their country to a naught,” the patriarch of the Nation of Islam wrote in “The Fall of America,” published in 1973.
Echoing words spoken by his divinely-sent teacher, Min. Farrakhan said in his 2012 Saviours’ Day address, “And even as America’s financial condition worsens, so, too, has the weather. Remember what I said last year at Saviours’ Day 2011? ‘Watch the weather.’ Well, in 2011 America and the world had the worst weather in recorded history. And this year, 2012, portends even greater calamities and hurt for the American people, and also Europe. Did you know that according to scientists, they called 2011 an almost ‘biblical onslaught’ of twisters, floods, snow, drought, heat and wildfire? There have been more weather catastrophes in 2011 than there were in all of the 1980s! More than 1,000 people were killed, and it caused over $52 billion in property damage.”
“But you have not seen anything yet. This year it will be worse. God is not going to let up on America and the world,” the Minister warned in February.
The truth of his warning is being made manifest as punishing weather has struck the U.S. on both coasts and from North to South.
In recent weeks, the Mid-West, East Coast and West have suffered from extreme heat, massive storms, floods and wild fires.
Parts of several states, including Colorado, Minnesota, Florida, Maryland and the District of Columbia, have been declared federal disaster areas.
Fire consumes Colorado, Western states
Crews had the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history 98 percent contained by July 9. But as firefighters closed in on full containment of a blaze that forced more than 30,000 people from their homes in and around Colorado Springs, concerns were rising about the effect the destruction will have on the area’s economy.
The Denver Post reported early estimates placed the property damage well in excess of $110 million. But Fred Crowley, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, said the total economic impact will be far greater.
Hotel owners said business is down and restaurant and tourist shops are seeing little foot traffic.
Meanwhile, Michele Starling with Pikes Peak Country Attractions said 10 major tourist destinations lost money when they were forced to close during the height of the fire, which scorched more than 18,000 acres.
On June 28, President Obama approved a disaster declaration for Colorado providing additional support to state and local officials responding to the fires, as well as federal assistance for individuals affected by fire, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced. “The U.S. Forest Service, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense and FEMA continue to support efforts to protect life, public safety and aid in community recovery from wildfires and subsequent flash flooding in multiple Western states,” the agency said.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Colorado Springs July 9 to meet with and thank firefighters, first responders and volunteers who battled the blazes and attend a briefing with local officials. Six Defense Department C-130 aircraft equipped with fighting systems were still assisting with efforts to control fires in the Rocky Mountain region and Western United States, said FEMA officials. As of July 8, Defense Dept. aircraft had conducted 145 air drops and discharged more than 380,100 gallons of fire retardant, they said. In North Carolina, National Guardsmen had scheduled a July 10 private memorial for four Airmen killed in the crash of C-130 while fighting a forest fire near Edgemont, S.D.
According to FEMA, 20 large air tankers, including six specially-equipped C-130s, 71 Single Engine Air Tankers, more than 8,500 personnel, more than 530 fire engines and more than 65 helicopters were fighting wildfires around the U.S. in support of state and local efforts.
In Colorado, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack designated all counties as primary designated natural disaster counties, except two, due to the damage caused by drought, excessive heat, and high winds, FEMA officials said. This designation means some farmers will be eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA.
In addition, the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior completed fire fighter training of two Army battalions at Fort Carson, located near Colorado Springs, Colo., to boost the number of personnel available for wildfire suppression throughout the nation, officials added. FEMA also approved Fire Management Assistance Grants for fires in Kane County, Utah and Weston County, Wyoming, bringing the total number of approved grants to 24, with money earmarked for Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. The fund can assist in covering 75 percent of the eligible state and local costs of fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster, FEMA explained.
The president’s major disaster declaration for Colorado makes federal funding available to the state, some local governments and private nonprofit organizations to help cover emergency response costs, FEMA said.
Federal officials also warned there is “increased risk of flash flooding in burn areas as a result of fires, and with the traditional summer rain season beginning, it’s important communities remain aware of this potential hazard. Flash floods can occur very rapidly, without warning or even any visible signs of rain.”
On average, the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior bureaus respond to about 16,500 wildfires per year that occur on land under their jurisdiction and assist state and local agencies in responding to many of another 60,000 wildfires per year.
Wildfires in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado sent haze and smoke across Colorado’s Front Range in early July, prompting air-quality health advisories as firefighters warned of growing fires in sparsely populated areas.
In eastern Montana a mammoth 380-square-mile in Custer National Forest gobbled up pine, juniper and sage with help from gusty winds. The fire burned 16 homes.
Lost power; days of record-breaking heat
The National Weather Service said North Carolina’s Triangle area suffered through six straight days of temperatures hitting 100 degrees or more, the area’s longest stretch since the weather service began keeping records in 1944.
Forecasters said the front would begin to ease temperatures in North Carolina starting July 9, as it heads farther North.
Utilities were reporting progress restoring power to areas left without electricity for as long as one week.
In West Virginia, Appalachian Power said storms had forced a halt to efforts in some areas out of concern for worker safety. At last count, about 77,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity in the state and the number of outages could increase again.
Outages numbered in the thousands in Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey.
“All of this points to the fall of America as predicted by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” said Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, minister of Health and Human Services for the Nation of Islam. “America’s infrastructure is so weak that it cannot even withstand strong winds. A properly maintained infrastructure can withstand 80 mph winds. This country’s economic situation for the last 30-40 years of unproductive activity has left an infrastructure house of cards.”
“America has squandered resources in non-productive activities such as continued warfare since the 60’s,” he added.
For millions of Americans, unprecedented day after day of temps in triple digits made hell seem like more of a reality than a religious concept. Temperatures soared over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in several cities, including a record 105 F in Washington, St. Louis 106 F, and Indianapolis 104 F. Heat buckled highways and derailed a D.C. Metro train.
The heat sent temperatures soaring in more than 20 states and several cities set records for days about 100 degrees. St. Louis had 10 days above 100 degrees, Raleigh, N.C., had six days, and Washington, D.C. suffered with four days.
“I’ve never been so hot in my life,” said Bertha Patterson, a senior citizen in D.C. “Lucky for me my son called and told me he was coming to get me. My power was off but I kept hoping it would come back on. I lost food but thank God I’m still here to talk about it. Some weren’t so lucky.”
The heat is not just risky for average citizens; it can also be deadly for people who have to work in it.
Public Citizen reports that over the past 20 years, at least 563 U.S. workers have died and more than 46,000 have suffered serious injuries from acute heat stress. This year, already the hottest on record, the toll on workers is likely to be even higher than in previous years. “The epidemic of worker injury and death due to heat exposure is projected only to worsen with climate change,” said Dr. Sammy Almashat, a researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.
Destructive storms travel across state lines
Though early July brought punishing heat, Friday night June 29 was one of stormy horror. “A ‘super derecho’ of violent thunderstorms left a more than 700-mile trail of destruction across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic on Friday, cutting power to millions and killing thirteen people,” explained Accuweather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
“More than 600 damaging wind reports were received by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) as the derecho took roughly 12 hours to race from northern Indiana to the southern mid-Atlantic coast. A derecho is defined as a widespread and long-lived wind storm that accompanies rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. The most severe derechos are given the adjective ‘super.’ ”
The storm left at one count more than three million people without power from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic. At Muhammad Mosque No. 4 in the nation’s capital, the power outage canceled a national web cast from Chicago.
“The power went out Friday night. It was an unusual experience. The Believers had to stay home to watch the web cast or go to someone’s home. Many did not have power,” said Student Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad, who oversees the Nation of Islam’s Mid-Atlantic Region.
“We really took a beating. The power outage destroyed our compressor for the air conditioner. We have to replace it. We’ve had a few complications because of the storm,” he said.
Businesses across the country also felt the pain of the storm. With power outages for days the economic loss to companies small and large and insurance companies could reach millions of dollars. Cities are still tabulating many of the storm and heat related costs. In Indiana, just the cost for families to replace food in the refrigerator and freezer for homes without power for 96 hours or more is about $12.5 million according to Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Bureau of Business Research. Property damage could easily add up to $20 million, he told reporters.
“Costs to the utility company could be $12 million to replace broken utility poles, repairing power line damage and paying overtime wages as well as living expenses for out of town work crews,” Indiana Michigan Power Spokesperson David Mayne told reporters.
In June insured damages for a three-hour Dallas hailstorm were put at $2 billion by the Southwestern Insurance Information Service, according to www.wunderground.com. “If true, this would be the fourth billion-dollar U.S. weather disaster of 2012. A cluster of three severe thunderstorms dropped hail the size of baseballs over a heavily populated area, damaging thousands of cars, puncturing skylights at a local mall, and shattering the expensive tile roofs of hundreds of homes. It was the second major hailstorm to hit the region this year; an April 3 event cost close to $500 million, and damaged 110 airplanes at the DFW airport,” the web site reported.
“The Qur’an says calamity after calamity, until the enemy is laid low. Now the oceans are rising; and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said he would build nothing on the East coast or the West coast, even in the South because soon the waters will over-flood. He said the people would be pushed more toward the center of the country,” warned Min. Farrakhan in a major address Saviours’ Day 2011.
This year may be another record-setter for weather-related damage, following a record breaking pace last year for extreme weather events. “One of those new records is the number of events totaling at least $1 billion in damages,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., head of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Last December the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration announced there had been 12 extreme weather events each totaling at least $1billion, she said. The previous record was nine, set in 2008.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report last November that forecast heat waves of increased length, frequency, and/or intensity over most land areas; an average sea level rise that will contribute to extreme coastal high water levels; increased average maximum wind speeds of tropical cyclones throughout the coming century; and increased frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of heavy rainfall in the 21st century over many areas of the globe.
“The drought for several years has gotten worse. Triple digit temps across the country have devastated the corn crop, which is down by more than half. The same thing is happening with the wheat crops. Food prices are going up over last year. We can expect them to continue to go up later this year,” said Dr. Muhammad.
“Fifty two million families are on food assistance. Expect that number to go higher as well. We are in the time of a famine by weather conditions. There’s massive flooding across the country as well. We are living in a situation that’s unprecedented,” he said.
(Associated Press reports contributed to this article.)