The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins tomorrow, but it got off to an early start when Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall along the Florida Panhandle on Monday. As the storm headed north, two journalists covering the weather in North Carolina were killed when a tree collapsed on their vehicle.
A day after Alberto collided with the United States coast, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study dramatically altering the estimate of how many people died when Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico last fall. Official estimates placed the death toll from Maria on the U.S. territory at 64. But the study, conducted by Harvard University researchers, says it's more than 70 times that, at a minimum of 4,645 deaths. Researchers pointed to the disruption in health care and basic utilities like electricity as reasons why so many people died during and in the aftermath of the storm.
NFPA Journal covered Maria as well as the two other hurricanes that slammed into the U.S. coast around the same time—Harvey and Irma—in its November/December 2017 issue, in a package called "Storm Season." Included in that coverage was an interview with Joe Jardin, a New York City firefighter and federal search and rescue specialist who flew to Puerto Rico ahead of Maria as part of a team assembled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Jardin described to me how FEMA teams were able to save lives despite being faced with incredible obstacles like impassable roads, inaccessible villages, and a lack of air support.
Read all of NFPA Journal's award-winning coverage of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria at nfpa.org/stormseason.