Hurricane Florence was a powerful storm that devastated North and South Carolina and caused much destruction when it made landfall. Florence was a Category 4 hurricane and one of the wettest storms to hit the United States in the past few years. At its peak, Florence achieved maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.
By the time Florence made landfall on September 14, 2018, the storm had been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane. As Florence moved through the Carolinas, the storm caused landslides and flooding.
According to media reports, Florence caused much destruction to life and property. At the time this post was written, at least 32 people have died in storm-related incidents, and the number is still climbing. There were 25 deaths in North Carolina, 6 in South Carolina and 1 in Virginia. Thousands of homes and businesses were affected or destroyed by Florence. Florence caused billions of dollars in damage. According to one report, Hurricane Florence may have caused as much as $22 billion in lost economic output and property damage. In addition, groups of destructive individuals are plundering stores and ransacking homes already devastated by the storm.
Hurricane Florence brings to mind another powerful hurricane that devastated a large portion of the United States: Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was also a very destructive and deadly hurricane. Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005 as a Category 5 hurricane. When Katrina made landfall, it caused catastrophic damage to several states. One of the most affected states was Louisiana. Because of an immense failure of the flood protection system in New Orleans, the city was ravaged by the storm, with major loss of lives and a devastating destruction of property.
When tragedy like Katrina and Florence strikes, people call the devastation caused by these storms “a natural disaster of biblical proportions.” Others call it “apocalyptic” while others compare the devastation with “Armageddon.”
When tragedy such as hurricane Florence strikes, people ask: “Where was God in this tragic event?” The devastation caused by Hurricane Florence has inflicted the kind of human suffering that is hard to express with words. Florence has produced so much suffering and misery that people feel lost and disconnected. In the midst of this tragedy, when people are confronted with the loss of life and property, people tend to ask: “Where was God in all of these events? Why did God allow these things to happen?”
The answers to these questions are not easy. How can we understand the devastation caused by natural disasters such as Katrina and Florence and yet believe that God is good? For us to understand the tragedy caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes we must understand the nature of the God of the Bible.
After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, I wrote a series of posts explaining how natural disasters such as a hurricane can exist in this world created by a loving and caring God. What I wrote at that time can also explain the devastation and the looting that occurred in North Carolina.
Many people have questions about the role of God in natural disasters. Although I do not have all the answers to the questions people have about the devastation caused by natural disasters, I believe that the posts listed below provide biblical answers to the question “Why did God allow these things to happen?”
You may not agree with some of my conclusions, but I believe that after you evaluate my argument, you will conclude that God is good even when we may not have all the answers to the problem of natural evil.
Below are the four posts on Hurricane Katrina. Remove the name Katrina and add the name Florence and you will see that the situation faced by the people in Louisiana is similar to the situation people face in North Carolina. The principles I enunciated in my posts on Katrina also apply to the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence.
Read the four posts in the order they are listed below:
These studies on natural disasters may raise issues I did not address in these posts. If you have a question or comments, feel free to leave a comment.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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