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art piece in trash collected after hurricane

An outsider’s perspective on the devastating hurricane Ian and similar vibes

As an European going overseas, I like to travel the streets by foot and bike. I find, exploration on ground level without windshields blocking the view, gives a better picture of the city or town I’m visiting. This applies both in Europe and the Americas. The fine details of the great American society right under my nose.

house with broken windows and walls on the ground floor house with ground-level panelling and structural damage

The hurricane being the deadliest in nearly 100 years, news soon reached all around the world. Swedish media was not spared from the graphic images of houses literally blown away. The images above mirror the general look of these early insights, from ground-level.

empty Miami street, just a few blocks away from downtown, in the middle of the day (FP4) Interstate bridge leading to Boeing Field, Washington (iPhone)

On an adventure to discover and collect exotic kinds of shells, we realized the grave situation on Florida’s west coast. Disappointed by the closed causeway to Sanibel, I searched for answers and found the extent of destruction mapped on the county’s website. One of my cotravellers who’s been to Chernobyl equated the atmosphere; all homes were evacuated, streets barren, houses upside down. Driving through the rubble, we saw glimpses of people’s lives—glades through torn walls. However, the eerie vibe wasn’t just comparable to nuclear accidents.

Earlier this year while visiting Seattle, the same empty dystopian feeling reached through me. Then I didn’t think much of it (since I was walking the hard shoulder on a highway bridge over an Interstate), but in hindsight the vehicular dependency in the States creates an alien feeling as compared to the density of Europe. The withered sternness of going 1 mile from the nearest parking lot is captured by the images around this paragraph.

a stop sign turned upside-down (FP4) foggy beach with tall rectangular resort buildings in the background

The sights were stunning. Houses laid on their sides, as if they’d taken a misstep. Some weren’t recognizable. Others had been swallowed by Earth. No people were to be found, take some volunteers clearing the vast beach. Massive concrete resorts stood tall, yet empty. Vegetation turned brown. Disaster recovery trucks everywhere, yet no activity. Rubble filling every dent in the ground. American flags hang proudly, yet no Americans to be found.

tilted house with decorated bus standing besides it. 'Come visit' is written on the side of the bus ruined house with a collapsed veranda

As we went south, contradictorily, things got better. Here, some had been lucky to survive with mere scratches. Others weren’t so lucky. Chance decided who’s life was flushed and who could move back in after a month.

unscated house with an American flag colourful shells with tall resorts in the blurry background

After rain comes sunshine, as they say. Arguably not in this situation. Though, some shards of beauty shone through the storms. The shells were plentiful and contrasted nicely with the grim backdrop.

broken house, which you can now see through warning cone and causion tape across the entrance to the beach

The journey through Fort Myers Beach, Lovers Key, and Naples gave me an important perspective of how distant news and suffering have become. Just as far away and abstract as disaster-news is climate change. But instead of us travelling to Fort Myers, global warming has a course aimed right at us, with no ability to slow down. Time doesn’t care. Instead, let us prevent a cataclysmic catastrophe before it reaches us.

I hope this article conveyed some of the drenching emotions I experienced while going to Miami.

Views: 89 Last edited on Wed, 2023-01-11, 16:34 +01:00