Surviving the Hurricane: Hear My Story
Surviving the Hurricane: Hear My Story
Until the 1950s, hurricanes were tracked by the year in which they took place. However, it was difficult to keep track of storms that took place at the same time. Now they are given unique names based on a list created by the World Meteorological Association. The list of appropriate names can be reused every six years. If a storm is especially noteworthy, its name is removed from the list and not reused. For example, “Katrina” and “Maria” will never be used again.
The timely “Disaster Diaries” series offers readers a bit of a different twist on the usual books about natural disasters. Its nonfiction chapters alternate with stories, fairly graphic in nature, told from a child’s perspective. Though the children and their families are fictional, their stories are gleaned from personal accounts of natural disaster survivors. In this regard, the subtitles of the books are somewhat of a misnomer for the stories represent less than 40 per cent of the entire text. Each title is comprised of 13 chapters as well as a table of contents, a glossary, an index, and a list of books and web sites for further study. The main body of the text describes the causes and effects of the specific disasters, where on the planet the disasters happen, scientific research, disaster prediction and preparedness, government involvement with respect to new building rules and regulations, and relief efforts. One common thread running through the series is the role that global warming is playing in each of these devastating events. For example, the California wildfire season has increased by 78 days since the 1970s. Additional text boxes provide information about the victims (humans, animals, buildings, infrastructure and entire towns) lost or affected by these tragedies.
Much of what is found in the main body of the text is available in other books, but what makes this series compelling is the first person narrative of (fictional) boys and girls from various parts of the world. Their “recollections” convey the panic they experienced as they and their families tried to flee their homes, find shelter and locate lost relatives, and their sadness over the loss of friends, family, and their homes and villages. For some, the damage to their sense of safety and security will never be repaired. The text is enhanced with abundant colour photographs, maps, diagrams, sketches and satellite images. (A free downloadable teacher’s guide is available, but the activities mainly involve basic recall and presenting facts to the class.)
Antonio hails from a small fishing village in Puerto Rico. His account is featured in Surviving the Hurricane: Hear My Story in which he tells about the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. He and his family sought shelter in a sports arena, one of the 450 shelters put in place to house 125,000 people. When it was safe to return to his village, there was nothing left. Despite having little food, no medicine or electricity, and only a blue tarp for shelter, the family slowly began to rebuild. In the main body of the text is information about the combination of conditions which result in a full-blown hurricane; a hurricane’s size, speed and strength/category; the destruction to people, property and the environment; and scientific data collection, storm tracking and forecasting. One project in the works is a bubble curtain which would bring cold water through a pipe from deep in the ocean. The cold water would mix with the warm surface water to lessen the potential for hurricane formation.
Informative and educational, the “Disaster Diaries” series’ combination of facts and personal recollections proves that two is sometimes better than one.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.