– Economic Fragility

The Dry Land

Voices from the Future | Sylvia Watchman

dry land

The Dry Land

The Event: Since 2017, extreme draught has ravaged Canyon de Chelly, on the Navajo Nation in Northeastern Arizona. In normal years, the area receives an average of 12 inches of rain. That’s not the case recently. What’s more, the draught became worse when, in early 2019, the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife declined to release water from a 5,500 acre-foot reservoir thus making traditional farming in Canyon de Chelly even more difficult. The agency’s reasons are still unknown — and unexplained to farmers in Canyon de Chelly.

Sylvia Watchman is a farmer and Navajo woman from Chinle, Arizona, a town of fewer than 5,000 inhabitants on the outskirts of Canyon de Chelly, where Watchman has lived all her life. Chinle is a Navajo word meaning “flowing through,” a phrase that once referred to the water that cruised down from the mountains to fertilize the valley.

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The Solution

Voices from the Future | Matt Russell

flooded town

The Solution

The Event: When weather patterns change from one extreme to another, such as during the 2012-2013 droughts and the 2019 spring floods in Iowa — when 100,000 acres of Iowa farmland was under water — not every farmer is impacted the same way. Some have it harder during seeding, some during growing season and some during harvesting. Still some have difficulty taking care of the cattle. But the farmers do have at least one thing in common: Planning and timing has become harder for every farmer.

Matt Russell, a fifth-generation Iowa farmer, was concerned about his cattle’s survival during the 2012 and 2013 Iowa drought.

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The 100-Year Flood

Voices from the Future | Henry Red Cloud

The 100-Year Flood

The Event: In March 2019, overflowing creeks and raging riverbeds flooded the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Caused by a sudden, unusual blizzard that created snow piles as much as 5 feet high. Two days later, that snow melted, causing a 100-year flood. The water destroyed structures, homes, roadways and bridges, and the flooding stranded thousands of the reservation’s 20,000 residents in their homes and shelters for two weeks. Two lives were lost.

In early March, Lakota Sioux tribe elder Henry Red Cloud and his family returned home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation after five days in an emergency shelter. He was sure the annual flooding season had passed — after all, the muddy waters had risen only knee high — and that it would be safe to return to his compound, which is comprised of five houses occupied by his and his children’s families. But this time, Red Cloud was wrong.

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The Dallas Tornado

Voices from the Future | Colin Hatzman

tornado damage

The Dallas Tornado

The Event: In late October 2019, a series of tornados — 10 all together — hit the city of Dallas, Texas. The strongest one battered suburban north Dallas with 140 mph winds, and tore a path across the Earth about 15 miles long. The tornados destroyed more than 700 structures in the Dallas area.

The alarm system went off at 9:05 p.m. on a Sunday night. “I was on my computer playing video games,” says Colin Hatzman, a local entrepreneur. “It peeped, and the panel read: Take shelter immediately. We did. My wife Isabelle and our two dogs hid immediately in our bedroom closet.”

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The Furious Fire

Voices from the Future | KerryAnn Laufer

The Furious Fire

The Event: The Kincade Fire sparked in late October 2019. It spread from a power plant area in northern Sonoma County, California, to homes and businesses in other parts of Sonoma, mainly to the towns of Windsor and Healdsburg, and to the northeast part of Santa Rosa. It burned 77,758 acres of land and destroyed 374 buildings. The fire prompted the largest mass evacuation — 200,000 people — in county history.

The alert to evacuate came around 10:30 a.m. KerryAnn Laufer didn’t have long. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got five and half hours,’” says the locally known textile and pottery artist. She made some tough choices: two suitcases; some documents; her two, 40-year-old Amazon parrots; and her 14-year-old cat. “I wish now, that I took some pictures, too.”

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The Flooding of Venice

Voices from the Future | Pierpaolo Campostrini

The Flooding of Venice

 The Event: Tidal waves from the Adriatic Sea peaked as high as 6 feet and flooded the city of Venice on November 12, 2019. The waves continued to pour into the city — built on 118 islands — three times a day for the next five days, inundating city streets, businesses and many of Venice’s famous landmarks. The 923-year-old St. Mark’s Basilica was one of the most affected. Its crypt was covered with three to six feet of water, threatening to destroy irreplaceable marble-clad walls and supporting columns, inlaid stone pavements and the prized gold-leaf mosaic decorations.

Pierpaolo Campostrini was unusually nervous.

“I had a fear that something not normal was about to happen,’’ says Campostrini, a well-known volunteer management and restoration expert at St. Mark’s Basilica. He acted quickly and called his workers to stay at the basilica all night. ”The sea was coming toward the city like a wave pushed by big tides. It was caused by a combination of unusual meteorological events that have never occurred before.” Continue reading

International Impact

Voices from the future | Jake Curtis

International Impact

 The Event: In 2004, a sudden and powerful earthquake rocked the Earth beneath the Indian Ocean. The 9.1 magnitude temblor triggered a tsunami whose power measured 550 million times stronger than the atomic bomb and devastated parts of Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. An estimated 230,000 to 260,000 people lost their lives.

American Jake Curtis was just eight when the tsunami washed over Phuket, Thailand. He was on Christmas vacation with his family, away from China, where his father worked for an international company. Continue reading

The Flood

Voices from the Future | Reija Nykvist

The Flood

The Event: In early March 2019, a tropical disturbance was building over the Indian Ocean, close to the southeast coast of Africa. As it traveled, the mild storm grew, and by March 5, it reached its full power as a tropical depression with winds as high as 35 miles per hour. The storm moved inland, pummeling Malawi and producing heavy rains that spawned deadly floods in the southern part of the country. The rains and rapidly rising floodwaters affected more than 45,312 Malawian households, and 226,560 people were displaced, according to the spokesperson for Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management. The country lost 28 people, and 124 people were injured.

“The heavy rains started on Monday,” Reija Nykvist explains. Her family lives in a suburb about 4.5 miles outside Malawi’s second biggest city, Blantyre. The heavy rain was increasing as the days went on, but she thought that was normal. “But there was no mentioning in the news that something unusual was going on.” Continue reading

A Devastating Storm

Voices from the Future | Ntombi Makuyana

A Devastating Storm

The Event: Tropical storm Idai struck the southeastern Chimanimani and Chipinge districts of Zimbabwe on March 14, 2019. The torrential rains caused massive floods, washed away roads and bridges, submerged around 20,000 houses and completely destroyed 700 homes. An estimated 268 people died, and another 200 people were swept away by floods to neighboring Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean. Those flood victims still haven’t been found.

Ntombi Makuyana, a graduate student at Arizona State University, lives 9,686 miles away from her African grandparents. But she has kept in touch with them and her extended family. Recently, Makuyana’s sense of disconnection grew when her grandparents faced the worst — their house was destroyed and washed away by muddy floodwaters in the small village of Chimanimani, at the southeastern edge of Zimbabwe. Continue reading