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Every year, hurricane season, or la saison cyclonique, begins in the Atlantic Ocean region in late summer, usually peaking around late August and September. Unfortunately, some years—like this one—large and frequent hurricanes—in French, les ouragans—can bring great damage and destruction to any place that falls within their path.
So far, Texas and areas of the Caribbean (les Caraïbes) have already been pummeled by these storms (orages), putting many lives at risk. While mainland France is not typically affected by these hurricanes, French territories are often in the center of the storm. Unfortunately, the Dutch and French island of St. Martin was ravaged this past week as Hurricane Irma made landfall, destroying approximately 95 percent of the island. The French island of Saint-Barthélemy, also known as St. Barts, was also devastated. A preliminary report states that four people on St. Martin were killed during the storm. According to the prime minister, “Le bilan humain est encore incertain dans la mesure où des opérations de déblaiement sont en cours.” (The human toll is still uncertain due to the fact that cleanup is still ongoing.)
French journalists reporting from the scene have called these islands after the storm un cauchemar (a nightmare) and un désastre (a disaster). One resident of St. Barts even said, “On a été rayés de la carte” (We were erased from the map). The French island of Guadeloupe is the site of a massive rescue operation, including an airlift (un pont aérian). However, it seems as if this nightmare might not yet be over for residents of the Caribbean. While Irma was a category 5 hurricane, the largest ever hurricane registered in the Atlantic, two more large and potentially destructive hurricanes (Jose and Katia) may still hit the region over the coming week.
You can help victims of this disaster (as well as victims of other recent hurricanes, including Hurricane Harvey) by donating to the American Red Cross and UNICEF, among other charitable organizations.