Hurricane Joaquin: Missing Crew and Extreme Flooding

By Jodie Grier

 

Hurricane Joaquin has left a trail of disaster across islands in the Caribbean as well as the lower east coast of the United States.

Although our community experienced little more than rain and mild winds, the effects of this hurricane have reached close to home for some ESU students.

“Joaquin developed on Sept.27 in the Atlantic Ocean,” according to weather.com.  The hurricane had strengthened to a category 4 when it thrashed through the Bahamas, and moved up the east coast of the U.S.

South Carolina has experienced massive amounts of flooding. With dam failures and rivers refusing to crest, people were forced to evacuate cities near Colombia, S.C. According to CNN.com, officials have allowed water to breach a few dams to prevent larger-scale flooding.

Simultaneous to the extreme flooding and disaster that South Carolina has experienced, a U.S. cargo ship, the El Faro, had gone missing after leaving Jacksonville, Fla. on Sept. 29.

The crew, headed towards Puerto Rico, had reported that the ship had lost power and taken on water, but had described their situation as “manageable,” according to ABC7Chicago.com. However, the crew had lost contact by Thursday, Oct. 1, after experiencing issues with the ship.

After seeing the path that the ship had taken, and the reports from the crew, the idea that the ship had lost propulsion in the path of the hurricane became more realistic.

Joaquin had not evolved into a category 4 hurricane until after the ship left port, and even if the crew had been able to abandon ship, they would have jumped into the playing grounds of 140 mph winds, 50 foot waves and no visibility, as reported by the Coast Guard Captain to CNN.com.

“The captain of El Faro had a ‘sound plan’ to avoid Hurricane Joaquin, but [the] ship’s main propulsion failed, stranding the crew in the path of the storm,” stated the owners of the cargo ship according to CNN.com.

Despite knowledge of the oncoming storm, the captain must have had faith in his plan of attack for this trip that had proven itself dangerous.

Despite all the devastation in the south and on the sea, our ESU community and student’s family members have, luckily, been relatively unaffected.

Katie Kraemer, ESU student and Editor-in-Chief of the Stroud Courier, has family in Maryland who have been spared Mother Nature’s wrath. Kraemer’s mother, Martina, residing outside of Washington D.C., stated that, besides minor power outages, the area had not been “hit as hard as expected.”

“There was more water than the ground could absorb,” Kraemer stated about the area’s conditions. “Very soggy, but no flooding.”

Bill Cameron, Managing Editor for the Stroud Courier, has family in Swansboro, N.C. who experienced some flooding in the downtown area of their community.

“[Swansboro] had a lot of rain,” Bill’s aunt, Pam Pearson, commented. “Seven out of 8 days it rained. In addition to rain from the hurricane, there were rain storms coming up from the south.”

With Swansboro, N.C. being surrounded by water on three sides, flooding was inevitable. Residents had watched coverage on the hurricane as well as exercised caution and were prepared for the effects of the severe weather.

“Depending on the forecast you prepare accordingly,” stated Pearson. “For Joaquin we watched the latest forecast, filled the cars up with gas and picked up or brought indoors items that might become airborne in high winds.”

Now that the storm has passed, communities can breathe a sigh of relief.

As South Carolina recovers from widespread floods, and the U.S. Coast Guard finishes its search for clues to the cargo ship’s demise, communities will pull together once more to assist others pick up pieces of their lives.

 

Email Jodie at:

jgrier2@live.esu.edu

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