by Tariqah Muhammad and Shawntell Muhammad
The Final Call @TheFinalCall
In a time of continued natural disasters and destruction, Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf Coast, leaving behind a path of devastation, and projections that it will take millions of dollars and years to return things to normal.
Early reports of few lives lost were tempered by the reality that there would be other deaths, admitted local and federal officials. A short time after floods in Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and other parts of the region were pummeled. New Orleans lost power as the category 4 hurricane hit the city on the anniversary of the deadly tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina.
At least one person was confirmed dead at Final Call presstime with power lines, cell phone towers knocked out and thousands of evacuees wondering when they would return home and how they would rebuild?
According to the federal Office of Homeland Security, the only power source in New Orleans Aug. 30 was through generators and the mayor of the city noted fuel would be needed for the generators to run as power was restored.
On social media and in news reports, images and video of the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and remnant storms trended. The early cost estimates for storm damage ran into billions of dollars. At Final Call presstime, one million people were without power and motorists were desperate for gasoline. Then there were fears of looting if New Orleans was pitch black.
“Severe wind, surge inundation and extended heavy rainfall endanger more than 941,000 homes with a reconstruction cost value of all at-risk homes totaling more than $220 billion, catastrophe modeling firm CoreLogic reported,” said the Insurance Journal, available online at www.insurancejournal.com.
It warned of massive hits on the central Louisiana coast with damaging winds of “between 130-156 mph, storm surge of up to 15 feet, and extremely heavy, widespread rainfall between 10-15 inches.”
Ida was “the toughest test yet of the billions of dollars spent on levee upgrades following Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago,” noted the Insurance Journal. Before the storm fully hit, more than “300,000 Louisiana homes and businesses had already lost electricity, mostly in the state’s southeast,” the journal said, quoting a Reuters report.
New Orleans enacted a mandatory evacuation in some parts of the city and voluntary evacuations in other as officials complained the storm didn’t give them much time to dispense advice.
“Ida is the fourth named hurricane of the 2021 season and the first projected major hurricane at Category 4,” the Insurance Journal noted.
Looking not to repeat the Hurricane Katrina political disaster and federal response disaster of then-President of George W. Bush, current President Joe Biden convened federal officials and state and local leaders for a televised briefing and discussion Aug. 30, saying the government was moving quickly to help those struck by Hurricane Ida. Next to him was Cedric Richard, a Black former congressman from Louisiana who is a major advisor to the president and his point person on relief efforts. The president declared the state a federal disaster area.
“We need prayers for Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, and inward up through the Mississippi Delta. Please. Not only wind and flooding danger, but if power goes out for hospitals, it will be so so bad,” wrote Cathy Jones on social media.
Ryan Christian wrote, “These are perilous times. We have been going from one disaster to the next, and things will continue to get worse just as this video shows. We need to prepare, so that we are always ready for anything that comes.”
But why are these calamities getting worse?
Nearly a decade ago, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam warned America to watch the weather and divine chastisement coming for her evil against and enslavement of Black people and genocide against the Native Americans. The extreme weather punishing America isn’t an accident; but is God’s direct intervention and assault on the United States, he said.
“God doesn’t fight with your cheap weapons,” said Min. Farrakhan. “God fights with the forces of nature. You can’t win with a war against God.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic striking the country, he warned in a 2020 lecture, “The Criterion:” “Our iniquitous behavior is a pestilence on the earth so God answers with a pestilence. His anger is at a point where He has to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. So punishment from God’s pestilence is to turn against you the things that you depend upon for your sustenance.”
Nation of Islam Student Minister Willie Muhammad of Mosque No. 46 of New Orleans said that the impact of Hurricane Ida was, fortunately, not as heavy as Hurricane Katrina of 2005.
“The remaining Believers that are in the city are doing fine. For us, Katrina has been the standard so anything that is far less than what Katrina did, we’re grateful. We’re grateful to Allah that the city didn’t have a downright hit,” he told The Final Call.
The Muslim student minister said by preparing for any natural disaster as prescribed by Minister Farrakhan and the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Believers were able to stay organized and safe. “I think all of us under the voice of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, [need] to prepare for any disaster. I think if we continue along those lines, we’ll be okay.”
U.S. gasoline prices increased Aug. 30 as the storm disrupted refineries and other oil-processing facilities and New Orleans was facing hospitals “already overwhelmed with more than 2,600 coronavirus patients,” reported Fortune magazine online.
“More than 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and about 100,000 in Mississippi were without power, according to Poweroutage.us. The utility serving New Orleans, Entergy Corp., said some could be in the dark for weeks. The company’s transmission system suffered ‘catastrophic damage,’ it said in a statement,” said Fortune.
“Ida drove so much water off the Gulf of Mexico that the Mississippi River flowed backward,” according to the National Weather Service, said the Aug. 30 report. “Officials in Plaquemines Parish southeast of the city warned residents to evacuate after reports that water overtopped a levee. In St. John the Baptist Parish, west of Lake Pontchartrain, officials reported at least one case of residents trapped in their attic and seeking to be rescued, according to local media.”
“Six tropical cyclones have now struck the U.S., and the high in Portland, Oregon, hit an unthinkable 116 degrees in June. Floods killed 20 people this month in Tennessee, while drought- and heat-wave-fueled wildfires blackened huge swaths of California, Greece, Turkey and Siberia, sending smoke over the North Pole for the first time on record,” said Fortune magazine. “Ida’s 150-mile-per-hour winds tie Louisiana’s hurricane record set by Laura in 2020 and a 19th century storm.”
The forecast was for Ida to move across Mississippi and then to the northeast as far as New Jersey and New York and then out to sea, said Fortune.
The region, however, was not in a safe zone with wind and rainfall still posing threats, the magazine added.
The storm “ran directly over chemical plants, refineries and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port. All told, damages and losses could exceed $40 billion, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler at Enki Research. That would make it among the costliest ever in the U.S.,” the magazine reported.
“Oil companies bracing for the storm have already halted the equivalent of 1.74 million barrels of daily crude production and almost 2 million barrels a day of refining capacity. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and others shut offshore platforms and evacuated crews. Key agricultural export elevators are also in the direct path of the hurricane, and the interruption to container terminals will likely affect grain shipments.”
But it isn’t just the impact of Hurricane Ida that is being faced. Student Minister Samuel X from Muhammad Mosque No. 60 in Nashville, Tenn. told The Final Call about how recent floods devastated Tennessee. “I thought about the divine instructions by the Messiah in our Midst to watch the weather. … I’m looking at the way Allah (God) is working. There’s many reasons but ultimately it’s to make those in power see. I think that they are responding in a way not necessarily knowing the divinity behind it. They are still lost, it’s devastating.”
The student minister made the point that the late Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said in her series, “Unveiling the Number 19” that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad made reference to the great calamities Allah (God) would punish the wicked with long before the reports on the news.
Tennessee is a major contributor to America’s infrastructure, continued Student Min. Samuel X. “The fact is that you have three major interstates through Tennessee. It could attribute to food shortages, merchandise not being taken to major retailers. Essentially, the winds represent the weather. It would be flooding. It would be snowfall. It would be earthquakes. Allah (God) would use the elements, the weather to make the people submit because the weather would give us a sign that the mercy is leaving this country. It’s something for us to pay serious attention to.
“Tennessee has been hit with severe weather for a year back-to-back. Nashville, Tenn., citizens are resilient but I have noticed over the year that people’s resilience is waning because it’s becoming overwhelming. When you’re dealing with covid, the weather events, they’re being hit on all levels and I’m seeing that resilience, although it’s been strong, it’s waning,” said the student minister.
“Nobody puts humility in you better than God,” Student Min. Samuel X concluded.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 784 tornadoes have torn through the U.S. leaving 24 dead this year. Meteorologists are especially concerned that hurricane season may affect the Midwest near the Great Lakes which hasn’t happened since 1996; and parts of Tennessee is suffering in the aftermath of record rain causing severe flooding.
For the West Coast, the summer of 2021 has proven to be historical. Multiple jurisdictions across Northern California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington State are all experiencing catastrophic fire conditions. Currently, there are 11 active large fires burning in California and have burned 1.3 million acres. At least 42,000 people have evacuated, and smoke is significantly impacting people as far away as Nevada. This year’s fire season is projected to eclipse last year’s record.
Hurricane season normally begins in July, peaks in August and lasts through November. Earlier this year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center predicted another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2021.
In the Midwest, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois were hit with several storms spawning tornadoes in early and mid-August.
Seventeen inches of rain were recorded on Aug. 21 in McEwen, Tenn., eclipsing the state’s 24-hour record of 13.6 inches and sparking flash flooding. The catastrophic flooding was responsible for at least 20 deaths.
Devastation out West
West Coast fires have put a stress and strain on resources and caused major damage. Stanford University experts estimate that California wildfires cost the state $10 billion annually. That includes the $2.5 billion the state spends every year to fund firefighting through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
On Aug. 24, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the White House approved California’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration.
According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, much of the fire risks comes from major drought across the continent, including Western Canada, most of the Western U.S. from the Pacific through the Midwest, and almost all of Mexico.
The climate crisis has made deadlier and more destructive wildfires than normal. With more than 95 percent of the western United States in drought, the conditions are considered extreme or exceptional.
The National Interagency Fire Center suspects the huge Dixie Fire in California may have started with an electrical issue with Pacific Gas & Electric, the largest utility in the state. “It is estimated that at least 1,273 structures have been destroyed, including at least 645 homes, with an additional 92 structures damaged. At least 260,724 acres of privately owned timber have been lost at an estimated $1 billion, with an additional $1 billion at risk. There are more than 6,000 personnel deployed on this fire. The fire is expected to be contained on Sept. 30,” said the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.
“One of the most concerning fires for firefighters in California is the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County. The fire has swept through 126,182 acres. The massive fire has so far destroyed 461 residences and 11 commercial properties,” noted Cal Fire.
The National Interagency Fire Center’s situation reported that as of Aug. 23 there were 26,141 personnel deployed on 93 large, active fires across the U.S., of these 92 are uncontained. Over 2.5 million acres have been scorched, reports the National Interagency Fire Center.
In several states across the West, smoke from the largest of numerous active blazes is prompting warnings about the air quality. Alerts warning the public about pollution levels remain in effect in parts of Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming, according to the National Weather Service’s website.
Physical hydrologist Ben Livneh explained that one of the most notable things that happens in a fire is that the texture of the soil changes.
“We found that sites that had a fire in the past three years required less precipitation to cause a landslide,” he noted. “Some estimates say the amount of forest area being burned each year in the western U.S. has doubled in the last 25 years, posing risks to communities,” Mr. Livneh concluded.
“America, you are reaping now what you have sown. You can’t fight the natural disasters that are coming. Way back in the ‘60s, Elijah Muhammad said, ‘America would suffer from unusual rain, unusual snow, earthquakes unusual.’ Then the forces of nature, hail, sleet, snow, cold, fire. Now, look at America,” stated Min. Farrakhan.
The Minister has repeatedly warned about the judgments his teacher, Mr. Muhammad, prophesized of in lectures and in His monumental books, “The Fall of America,” “Our Savior Has Arrived,” and “Message to the Black Man in America.”