Apocalypse and the Maui Fires
The damage is unimaginable, but even greater disasters are coming
Last week, the world watched in shock and horror as wildfires swept across a swath of Maui, leaving smoldering ruins and carnage in their wake. The speed of the ferocious inferno was stunning. As they fled the fires, the only refuge many desperate people could find was in the ocean. The current death toll has exceeded 100, but only about 25 percent of the scorched area has been searched. Sadly, the death toll is expected to rise significantly.
At least 2,000 structures burned. The landscape is littered with incinerated cars and buses. The blaze is being called the worst natural disaster in Hawaii’s history and one of the deadliest fires in U.S. history. The beautiful, historic resort city of Lahaina was in the bullseye of the burning, and the cost to rebuild is estimated at a staggering five billion dollars.
As the inferno was raging—and in the immediate aftermath—one word was used over and over again to describe the magnitude of the destruction: “apocalyptic.”
Here are a few of the dozens of headlines that appeared over the last few days to express the shock over what happened:
Hawaii wildfires kill 36 as “apocalypse” hits Maui island resort city (Reuters)
How Maui’s wildfires became so apocalyptic (Vox)
“The worst disaster I’ve ever seen”: Residents dived into the ocean as wildfires ripped through Maui (Euronews)
Hawaii’s dystopian reality: Apocalyptic images reveal full horror of ‘1,000 degree’ deadly ‘fire hurricane’ that annihilated historic city and killed at least 96 amid warnings death toll could surge by hundreds (Daily Mail)
In searching for a word to describe the severity and scope of the destruction, the most extreme word most people can find is a reference to the apocalypse. In fact, the English word “apocalypse” is used popularly today as a synonym for a great catastrophe. The Greek word apokalupsis (the Greek title of the Book of Revelation) literally means “to unveil or remove the cover” from something.
Describing the Maui fires as apocalyptic is probably more accurate than most people realize.
The Fires of the Future
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