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Hurricane sets off fierce debate about leaving Puerto Rico
The disaster wrought by Hurricane Maria has set off an anguished debate across Puerto Rico, where friends, family and co-workers are arguing fiercely over the morality of leaving the blacked-out island for the U.S. mainland versus fulfilling a patriotic duty to rebuild.
More than 140,000 Puerto Ricans have left since the storm hit Sept. 20 and some experts estimate more than 300,000 more could leave in the next two years. That’s on top of a similar-size exodus over the last decade of economic crisis, creating a massive population loss for the U.S. territory of 3.4 million.
Most of those who have left went on their own. Aid groups and the U.S. government helped evacuate large numbers of the elderly and sick. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has offered to help relocate those still in temporary shelters, about 2,400 people as of Friday, to temporary housing on the mainland.
Many of those leaving are facing recriminations from fellow Puerto Ricans who accuse them of abandoning their homeland when it…
Harvey-scale rains could hit Texas 18x more often by the end of the century
Hurricanes strike the US with regularity, but there’s nothing on record that is at all like Hurricane Harvey’s pummeling of Houston. Understanding the risk of that kind of wind and rainfall happening again is critical if we intend to rebuild infrastructure that’s going to survive to its expected expiration date. But freakish storms like Harvey make risk calculations challenging. These storms have no historic precedent, so we have no idea how often they occur; and the underlying probability of these events is shifting as our planet grows warmer.
An MIT professor named Kerry Emanuel, however, has helped develop a system that analyzes hurricane frequency in a warming world. Using it, he has found that Harvey-sized rainfall could go from being extremely rare to having an 18-percent chance of happening in any given year by the end of this century…