Disasters take their toll on the soul

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Does anyone else out there have disaster fatigue?

If the Montana fire season wasn’t enough of a natural disaster already this year, three hurricanes have ravaged entire nations and two sizable earthquakes have left Mexico in shambles. All this has happened over a couple of months. And I don’t even know what’s going on disaster-wise in other parts of the world.

I’m grateful to have been out of harm’s way, but so weary of stories about death and destruction.

So much has happened I had almost already forgotten about the Lodgepole Complex Fire in Eastern Montana that was a precursor of things to come. On July 22 — just two months ago, that fire stood at 125,000 acres and was 0 percent contained. By July 31 it had consumed 270,723 acres but was largely contained. The loss of livestock and grazing lands are predicted to affect ranchers for years.

And that was just the big beginning of a terrible wildfire season. So many more people would be evacuated; so many more would lose everything. The fires have burned 1.26 million acres so far this season in Montana, and many still are burning.

Far from home, it already seems so long ago that Hurricane Harvey roared ashore in Texas. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches of rain as the system wound its way over Eastern Texas and adjacent waters, causing catastrophic flooding.

Then Hurricane Irma showed up not much later, the strongest hurricane observed in the Atlantic since Wilma in 2005 in terms of maximum sustained winds and the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma.

Hurricane Maria followed on Irma’s heels just two weeks later, ravaging Puerto Rico and leaving the entire U.S. commonwealth of more than 3 million people without power. They say it could be months before the electricity is back on. Maria is still churning and wreaking havoc on a number of tropical islands.

On Sept. 19 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico, killing at least 286 people. Twelve days earlier another big quake off Mexico’s southern coast killed at least 98 people.

I feel exhausted just imagining the amount of suffering caused by this barrage of disasters. I can’t comprehend being in the path of such devastation and picking up the pieces afterward. All most of us can do is pray for their recovery and donate to relief efforts. Locally there have been many fundraisers for fire relief; give generously if you can.

If there is a silver lining to any disaster, it is that such events tend to bring out the best in most people. Neighbors reach out to help one another. We rally, we persevere, we carry on.

Disasters always show us the resilience of the human spirit.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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