Monday, September 4, 2017

Why Are We Not Keeping Track Of The Dead From Hurricane Harvey?

It is not surprising that as Hurricane Harvey has finally moved off the Atlantic coast and is over, and the flood waters recede in the various places that it caused damage, it is unsurprising that reporting has moved onto the inside pages of papers and even seems on the verge of disappearing.  But somehow a piece of information that I would think is important, and that I have seen reported more substantially in past disasters, is the number who died as a result of the hurricane.  If one googles "dead from Hurricane Harvey," one gets as the top hits reports from many days ago in which one learns that the number who died is in single digits.

As it is, by digging hard I have found that the number is much higher, but seems unclear, but is only barely being mentioned deep in stories on the event.  After digging hard, I found scattered reports within the last 12 hours.  The number dead are reported to be either 38, 40, 43, 45, 46, or 50.  Those searching through badly flooded buildings, now free from the water, are gradually discovering those who could not escape and drowned.  But somehow these numbers seem to be of little interest.  I remember previous disasters where a few died, and that number would be the big headline, and people would keep track.  But somehow, for reasons I do not understand, the number dead from this event somehow seems to be of little interest to the media, and perhaps even the public. Is this really true, and if so, why?

Somehow I doubt that it is because over 1,200 people have died this season in South Asia from floods as that piece of information has received even less media attention.

Barkley Rosser


ProGrowthLiberal said...

abc reported last night that the number has reached 60:

Alas, this is likely not the final count either.

Lord said...

It may be difficult to distinguish storm related from natural deaths when the numbers are so low.

mike shupp said...

I suspect one lesson we learned from Hurricane Katrina was that the number of dead in a "natural disaster" is determined by government effectiveness as well as the magnitude of the storm. And another is that initial toll of the storm (or earthquake or whatever else) may be less than those who perish in the aftermath, before the functioning of the community is restored.

So once upon a time "Hurricane Ronny Strikes Miami. 123 Feared Dead" might have seemed a good headline, encapsulating a full news story. We've learned we have to wait several weeks for "Hundreds Perish In Miami As Hospitals Fail To Evacuate. Charges and Countercharges Roil FEMA Leadership." Which sounds sort of exciting, but probably less than 5% of the voters pay much attention to such news.