I’ll admit that until one of 2023’s natural disasters affected me personally with my daughter and her losing everything in the Maui fires, I didn’t pay close enough attention to what was happening everywhere around the world in such a short time. It feels like it’s just boom, boom, boom. One disaster after another. It feels like nature is on a furious rampage, trying to get our attention.
In 2023 alone, earthquakes, floods, fires, storms, and droughts have descended upon our planet in a unprecedented year of destruction, leaving a trail of despair and heartbreak and orchestrating a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions.
Just in the United States, the wrath of Mother Nature knows no bounds. Tornadoes tore through the South and Midwest, reducing homes and businesses to rubble. Destructive hailstorms in Minnesota and Colorado left a mark of despair on the faces of countless families. Rivers unleashed torrents of rain upon California, caused severe flooding in Vermont, and the haunting wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii, turned paradise into a scene of the depths of hell.
Widespread heatwaves this summer have made life unbearable for so many.
There is anguish unfolding in every corner of the globe. Beyond our own borders, humanity is grappling with a symphony of suffering, where livelihoods crumble, infrastructures are washed away, and lives are shattered.
Here’s just a few of this year’s disasters that I found out about while gathering facts:
(May) In Myanmar, Cyclone Mocha unleashed its fury on Rakhine State, becoming one of the most potent cyclones the region has ever witnessed. It wreaked havoc, leaving an estimated 145 people dead and obliterating infrastructure, homes, schools, and businesses. The UN reports that the cyclone has impacted a staggering 800,000 people.
In India, during the monsoon season of July, landslides and flash floods claimed at least 91 lives across six north Indian states, leaving millions more displaced and distressed.
Across the seas, Typhoon Talim battered the southern shores of China, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Canada is now battling the worst wildfire season in its history. The inferno, ignited by extreme dryness followed by a relentless heatwave, has left thousands homeless. As of July 17, a staggering 907 active wildfires raged, with 599 of them spiraling out of control. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre categorized the majority as “out of control.”
Greece, known for its ancient beauty, is now marred by an ongoing battle against over 200 wildfires just since the last week of August! Emergency services are stretched to the limit, as brave souls attempt to contain the unyielding blaze.
Morocco’s quaking earth on 9/8/23 brought a grim reality, with a death toll nearing 3,000 and more than 5,600 injured. The suffering knows no bounds.
A catastrophe in Libya on September 15, where heavy rains caused two dams to fail, inundating the coastal city of Derna. The death toll stands at a staggering 11,300, with an additional 10,100 souls missing, entire families lost in the deluge.
South Sudan, already known for their ongoing hardship, is in the grips of an unprecedented phenomenon. 2023 marks the fourth consecutive year of historic flooding, impacting nearly a million people. Half a decade without a dry season has left 47,700 square kilometers underwater, an area almost thirty times the size of London. The situation as dire, making basic necessities inaccessible.
Chile is locked in a relentless “mega drought.” Record-breaking summer temperatures coupled with fierce winds, ignited one of the deadliest wildfires in the country’s history in February. The flames devoured an estimated 270,000 hectares of land, claimed 24 lives, destroyed hundreds of homes, and prompted a state of emergency across three regions.
The anguish that stretches across our globe in 2023 is a wake-up call to humanity. I had saved some photos but the tears of those affected, the agony etched on their faces, and the resilience they display in the face of these calamities are heartbreaking. I think that 2023 will be remembered as the year our planet wept.
Why write this article? Because I never want to be so selfish in my own woes that I forget there are much worse things happening to others. That people are suffering more than I could ever imagine. Women, children, and entire families wiped out in minutes. Life is fleeting and today, I feel thankful for where I am, what I have, and who I love.
*Citing facts/statistics from from Global Citizen, Washington Post, CNN, Al Jazeera