Key Largo divers were nervous after Irma. But what they found is worth a smile.

Throughout September, Hurricanes Harvey, Jose, Irma, and Maria contributed to the largest amount of "Accumulated Cyclone Energy" tracked in a single month than any other time period on record. In Puerto Rico, millions of people are still reeling without basic necessities after Maria devastated the entire island.

If you live in the Caribbean or along the Gulf of Mexico, chances are that your life has been affected — if not entirely upended — by an unprecedented month of weather.

The hurricanes didn't destroy everything though.

A heartening update about the state of things on the ocean floor off Key Largo, Florida, is a rare piece of post-hurricane news where things did not go nearly as poorly as they could have.


Coral reef in Key Largo. Image via amanderson2/Flickr.

Powerful storms can wreak havoc on coral reefs, damaging marine life and devastating whole underwater ecosystems. So Billy Wise, general manager of Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Key Largo, was understandably concerned with what his divers would discover following Hurricane Irma.

Wise, however, was pleasantly surprised.

"The reefs look spectacular, compared to what we thought they would look like," he told The Miami Herald after divers scoured corals at several area reefs. Fortunately, "everything looks great."

Aside from a few areas of sand displacement — which, in effect, created new dive sites — hardly anything had been affected.

The storm even unearthed a buried treasure for divers to explore: an anchor from the SS Benwood, a sunken World War II freighter.

Photo by Shayna Cohen, courtesy of Rainbow Reef Dive Center.

Any sighs of relief, however, are bittersweet in the grand scheme of things.

Coral reefs tend to act as a natural buffer against powerful storms. But as waters warm due to increasing carbon levels in the atmosphere, those reefs disappear. That spells bad news for the coastal communities that tend to take more of the brunt from bad weather.

Scientists believe, for instance, that a dying, 360-mile Florida Reef Tract — of which just 10% is covered in living coral — made the effects of Hurricane Irma worse for Floridians.

When coral is damaged or destroyed by turbulent weather, it can make future storms even worse, creating a cycle that doesn't bode well for marine life or humans on the coast.  

Coral that's been bleached by an increasingly warm and acidic ocean is examined at the University of Miami. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

For now, the folks at Rainbow Reef Dive Center are just relieved the coral in their neck of the woods — er, ocean — is here another day.

"All in all, we’re ready and happy to be letting visitors come back in," Wise told the Miami Herald. "We have a great staff of 70 and we want to keep them here and working. ... People are going to be curious about what’s happening on the reef, and that will help rebuild the Keys economy."

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Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
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Do you know that guy who has never had an issue with his TV/internet provider? Neither do I. If you claim you have never had issues with your bill going up without warning, then you are either lying or you own the cable company. Jake Lawson apparently does not own a cable company, and was prepared to communicate his frustrations regarding his bill in a most creative way.

First off, Jake understands what everyone should realize. The customer service representative doesn't own the cable company either, so yelling at someone who is just trying to make a living like all of us is not the answer. Their job is hard enough as it is so give them a break. Jake gave them more than a break. He gave them a song.


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