Hurricane Categories, Trauma and Relief

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Hurricanes are classified into five categories, with category five being the most catastrophic and category one being the mildest but still deadly. Hurricanes cause trauma to casualties and have a huge impact on a region’s economic status. Since low-income earners lack the means to relocate, these natural disasters have been linked to out-migration from a state and elevated poverty levels. To ensure a quick recovery, the best ways to prepare for storms are to use public and private insurance services, save some emergency money, and build storm-resistant homes. Following a hurricane, relief emanates from the federal and state organizations, charitable organizations like churches, and also volunteers. The victims of storms receive food, water, shelters, living expenses as well as emotional support and psychological counseling.

Categories of Hurricanes

Hurricanes are grouped into various categories depending on the strength and the speed of the wind and the resultant damage that is likely to occur. According to the National Hurricane Center of the United States, there are five categories of hurricanes that could be experienced. Group one is the mildest of all categories although it results in considerable damage as well. For the well-constructed houses, the significant damage that happens during category one is that of the gutters, shingles, vinyl siding and roofs. Shallowly rooted trees are also likely to topple while large branches snap off the trees. Notably, there is also widespread damage to the power lines with the outages lasting only a few days. Category 2 is an upgrade of the first category such that hazardous winds will snap strong and substantial tree branches that may even block the roads. Additionally, the effect on the power lines is consequential since there is a likelihood of near total loss of power and the outages lasting a few days to several weeks. The wind speed is usually 96-110mph. In category three, the wind speed increases significantly to about 111-129mph resulting in devastating damage to property. Apparently, the magnitude of this category of hurricanes will lead to severe damage or removal of gable ends and roof decking. Many trees will be uprooted and more branches snapped ending in closure and blockage of roads for a couple of days. Water supply and electricity supply may be unavailable for several weeks until the hurricane passes.

In category 3 of hurricanes, catastrophic damage of properties is inevitable since the speed of the wind has moved to 130-156mph. A recent example in this class is the Hurricane Maria. Even well-constructed residential houses may sustain serious damages to the roofing and the exterior. The fallen trees and snapped branches will block the houses and isolate the residential areas. In fact, it is possible for electricity and water amenities to be absent for weeks even months making the affected region uninhabitable for many months. The final category which is the most dangerous is the 5th one. A considerable percentage of the vacated houses will be destroyed to the extent of walls collapsing. It is no surprise to have power outages for weeks and months and people taking many months to get back. The wind speed usually is 157 mph or higher for a hurricane to be regarded as category 5. The most recent October Irma hurricane would be considered as category 5. The 2005 Hurricane Katrina would also be graded as category five because of the extent of the damage.

Trauma and Loss Associated with Hurricanes

The trauma associated with hurricanes can be severe especially for small business owners who may never recover from the losses. While some do recover, the time taken to bounce back to business may sometimes take slightly longer than one year. For example, after 2005 Katrina Hurricane an antique store in New Orleans required about six years to recover and run its operations fully. Another island restaurant could not reopen one of its branches following the Superstorm Sandy of 2012. The Golden Coral Franchise in Louisiana took only six weeks to fix the damages following the Hurricane Katrina but faced other many challenges. For instance, just ten percent of the staff were in the city to operate the restaurant, and the town was also isolated with very few clients. In fact, the franchise was just serving lunch for a couple of months before recovering after one year. That whole period of snail progress meant lost opportunities for growth, lost employment and eventually lost revenue. A company by the name Rau Antiques in New Orleans suffered a $5million loss when the inventory store was flooded with water during the Hurricane Katrina (Associated press 2017). The means of surviving the loss meant adopting various strategies. For example, Rau decided to sell most of its commodities online, and in fact, the loyal customers went out of their way to buy products from Rau. Rau is among the successful businesses that survived the hurricane, Katrina. Other companies could not even recover.

The government estimate is that 40% of business do not reopen following a hurricane encounter. Most business owners lose the motivation after the losses occur since there is still the uncertainty of another storm arising following the repairs. The relocation of people in such areas makes the recovery process harder since some residents who did not have long-term investments may go and start their lives elsewhere. The thought of a possible storm kills the motivation to build one’s business. Also, the emotional and psychological adverse effects associated with hurricanes are not smooth. Customers also in fear of their investment and time are careful not to invest in big affairs in the hurricane-prone regions. Some people experience their lifetime investments and family businesses shuttered within a short span of time. It is inconceivable, and some have to undergo trauma counseling to be able to get on with their lives and to bounce back economically. Boustan, Kahn, Rhode & Yanguas, (2017) reiterate this by suggesting that counties that experience natural disasters like hurricanes endure high out-migration levels and ensuing high poverty levels due to reduced clientele for businesses. The trauma of such business owners and their families resulting in poor health in the remaining residents. Only the poor will be likely to remain in disaster-prone areas since they lack financial means to relocate to other stable counties.

The Maria hurricane shattered Puerto Rico’s power grid, water system, road network and cell phone infrastructure. Additionally, it was estimated that 48 people lost their lives in that strong storm. The challenging aspect of the Maria hurricane was the trauma of isolated people who would not access food since the bridges suffered significant damage separating some towns hindering water and food supplies. Thirty days after the storm, about thirty people were still missing and approximately 4000 people forced to live in the 92 availed shelters (Amr 2017). Following the Maria, hurricane was the IRMA which was regarded the strongest since 2005 to be experienced in the Atlantic. It caused widespread damage in the Southern and Caribbean leaving about 155 people dead. Shockingly, the speed was roughly 185mph even as IRMA moved through the US states like Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. Over one million individuals were adversely affected requiring crisis management teams and Federal Emergency to provide assistance.

Preparation for Hurricanes

Since hurricanes are not entirely unpredictable, business owners and individuals could prepare accordingly such that it becomes possible to bounce back as soon as it is practicable. The major preparation manner is paying premiums to the insurance companies that cover storms and other natural disasters. Otherwise, the financial implications may be too high to recover from the loss. Yamali operated his four island restaurants and catering halls and close to five years after the Superstorm Sandy he still feels the effects of the hurricane. During the storm, water rose to 4 feet in one of his halls namely Sands of Lido Beach destroying the furniture, carpet and kitchen equipment. Since the building was not insured against the storm, he suffered the losses, and he would only open two of his island restaurant. After that experience, he noted that he would have bounced back and reopened the business if he had flood insurance. Now, he has insured against flood, and in case something similar occurs, it will be easy to recover.

Insurance coverage of a flood provides the finances required to repair maybe a damaged business premise of a residential house. Dixon, Clancy, Bender, Kofner, Manheim, & Zakaras (2013) state that most of the residents of New York City bounced back since they were insured with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, the coverage is normally limited to basement coverage and excludes moving expenses even if the water necessitated that movement. Thus, an individual seeking insurance should strive to have comprehensive coverage. Such coverage would happen through private insurers also who top up additional finances required. Additionally, the government reviewing the effectiveness of NFIP and other related insurance programs to ensure that the victims bounce back without unnecessary financial challenges.

Alternatively, an individual in such areas prone to hurricanes should set aside some income as a measure of preparedness to recover following storms given that sometimes the insurance companies take a long while to reimburse the beneficiaries. Further, it is essential to prepare for hurricanes through the construction of houses with basement and strong foundations such that the categories one and two hurricanes would not cause considerable damage. The basement could offer shelter during such storms and shield individuals from possible injuries or even death.

Relief Options during and after Hurricanes

In the event of a hurricane, the government and other humanitarian organizations like Red Cross provide relief for the residents. The government offers means for evacuation of the residents and provides shelters on a temporary basis before the passing of that hurricane. The government also offers food and water to the individuals in the shelters. Further, the state offers counseling options through the disaster management unit for the well-being of the individuals.

Charitable organizations also provide relief for areas that fail to receive as much attention as the major cities. For instance, Church volunteers in the South wire team came together to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in their neighborhood. Bellaire, a small town whose government assistance was in a mess with crowded cities with personal belongings, furniture, insulators among other things. With the effort of the volunteers, the town was able to start the recovery process. People of goodwill also cooperate to give food and shelter to the victims.


Amr E. (2017). IRMA, Maria: The worst hurricane season?” Egypt Today, 21 Oct. 2017. Business Collection

Boustan, L. P., Kahn, M. E., Rhode, P. W., & Yanguas, M. L. (2017). The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Activity in US Counties: A Century of Data (No. w23410). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Dixon, L., Clancy, N., Bender, B., Kofner, A., Manheim, D., & Zakaras, L. (2013). Flood Insurance in New York City Following Hurricane Sandy. Rand Corporation.

National Hurricane Center: Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

The Associated Press. (2017). Past disasters show a long recovery for small businesses.” Long Island Business News

Southwire team rallies to send aid after Hurricane Harvey. (2017).” Transmission & Distribution. Business Collection,

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