I live in Florida, on the East coast, in a medium sized town called Vero Beach, which is also a VERY expensive place. We have a barrier island between the mainland and the Atlantic Ocean, crossed by two bridges. There is a river in-between – actually a lagoon – which ranges in width from 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. It is mostly pretty shallow.
If one checks a hurricane progress or history map, one will find that Florida his smack dab in the middle of a natural hurricane path and bracketed by the paths of many of the storms. That would give one the idea that Florida gets hit pretty often and the understanding that, sooner or later, the majority of the state is going to get slammed real hard.
As a kid, I learned to always be ready for storms. My folks and the neighbors always bought several weeks supply of food and simply replaced it as we used it up. We kept storm boards on hand to cover windows with – though most of the houses had those jaoulsey windows designed for storms. (Horizontal strips of glass in frames, Usually 4 inches wide and the width of the window. They could be opened to any angle.) We kept candles, kerosene lamps, sterno or gasoline stoves, rolls of duct tape and batteries. We always had several flashlights and even gasoline lamps. Most of us tended to live in cement block houses.
When the storms came, we filled up jugs with water to drink for when the power went off, filled up the bathtub for water to wash with and to flush the can. If we had time, we bought or made masses of ice and packed it in our freezers to keep the food cool.
After the storm, we stored our plywood window coverings or shutters away, cleaned up the mess and went about our normal lives. One often found houses with those big clamshell awnings so popular in the 50s and 60s, which were designed to be lowered down to seal off windows. They were also designed to ‘cup’ the window and resist or blunt high impact objects.
After reading about and watching television reports of current storm disasters here in the states, I’ve been appalled to find that people in the storm path are living in wooden houses – usually coated with a thin layer of cement. Very few do much to ready themselves in advance of any storm – though many do buy generators – and those who rush to buy out the plywood often THROW IT AWAY right after the storm.
My signature is ‘think of it as evolution in action’ which originally came from a book where the saying indicated that the stupid get wiped out while the smart remain. Nature culling the herd.
Is it just me or are people getting stupider as time goes on in relation to storms?
I was stunned to find massive housing developments built on old flood plains. A flood plain INDICATES that nature is going to flood that place sooner or later and, if you live there, you’re going to get wet. Then I observed many lax building codes in populated areas for houses made mainly of wood – also built in storm areas. (Fewer truss fasteners, trusses no longer firmly anchored into cement or fastened EVERY beam to the wall top. Weaker outer walls, walls made of 2 x 4s filled with insulation, covered by plastic and sheet insulation, then plastered over with cement. Wide, thin glass windows, weaker interior walls and so on.)
Plus natural wind barriers had been removed, like great stands of trees, low hills, rises in the ground and so on. many places had these thin, spindly replacement trees planted which seem to take about 100 years to grow into anything good. Natural drainage had been reworked and turned into parking lots, streets or fields with insufficient man made drains installed.
Now, who is in charge here? Are people actually so stupid that they will not take time to protect themselves? Plus, what about those who every year rush out at the approach of a hurricane and buy new plywood only to toss it away when it is over? Whatever happened to those clamshell, aluminum shutters, or the actually functional vertical and decorative ones places used to have?
When did governments decide to risk the lives of people by cheapening the building codes? (Anyone familiar with General Development Corporation in Florida knows all about substandard housing.)
Here, our local government allows businesses and homes to build right up on the beach. Beaches are variable and when hurricanes hit, sand is removed. So, every year major bucks are spent of replacing washed out sand at the bases of homes and buildings and every major hurricane means a beach evacuation. Plus, the construction of high rises has changed the direction of the inshore winds, forming an artificial cliff. Sand does not gather at the base of a cliff. So, now people gripe that our once vast, tropical beaches are vanishing, which has allowed some businesses to install ugly, massive sea walls. What were they thinking? Plus, blocking the in shore winds has altered the off shore currents, which takes away even more sand.
I’ve watched while homes are built on marshy ground by filling the site with fill and built on naturally flat flood areas after stripping off all of the natural growth. This is asking for trouble! Even with fill the foundations settle and crack! Marsh ground naturally is full of water and it gets worse in the rainy and storm season.
Are folks getting too complacent or is the average intelligence level dropping?
Currently, the government publishes continental maps showing things like Cancer Zones, high pollution zones, tornado zones, hurricane zones and flood zones. Anyone with some background knowledge from reading something like National Geographic can go into an area and determine for himself what the land might be to a small extent. Anyone reading the news or watching television can figure out that living close to major rivers like the Mississippi might not be a good idea because of the major floods every so many years. Kind of like going into California and not buying a house which is on top of the San Andreas fault. Like not living within 5 miles of an active volcano and especially not on the sides of one.
(I’m not real sure about people on some of the Hawaiian Islands because they KNOW that their homes probably will be burned up in lava flows but they still build nearly on top of them ‘for the view’.)
I wonder about some of the mentality of people also. In the last major floods in middle America, farmers were wiped out. Yet, by gosh, they were going to rebuild right where they had been before. Their grand pappy had been wiped out 6 times by the flood and rebuilt, their pappy had been wiped out 4 times and rebuilt and they just got wiped out and they were going to rebuild also.
Not only were they going to rebuild but they were not going to move to safer, higher lands, nor rebuild their homes on stilts – like some more or less intelligent ones did and who comfortably survived the flood.
Any thoughts on this really stupid attitude so many people seem to have?
I mean, would you knowingly move into a nice home on top of a toxic land fill? How about into a new wood house snuggled into the middle of a pleasant stand of wilds that fires burn off every 5 years or so? (See California wild fires. See also that the surviving homes have been made of cement with tile roofs - but they seem to be like one out of 100.)
(SIGH) I dunno. But, then again people love to buy cars that the crush zone includes the drivers side, speed around in SUV’s that will easily tip over, cruse in sports cars that are made of fiberglass and buy trucks with exploding gas tanks.)
“Think of it as Evolution in action.”