The Knowing of Hurakan

Harry Reid, I think it was, just came out and said that Katrina could not compare to Sandy. I read that and my jaw just dropped. I guess human life must not matter much to the Senator.

Inside a Hurricane House

There have been countless hurricanes that have destroyed homes, lives and cities. Hurricanes have been doing their thing since before there was anyone around to notice. Hurricanes are going to keep coming and it looks like we’ll have more of them and fiercer.

When you think about the destruction of Galveston in 1900, of New Orleans Katrina in 2005 and this most recent storm, Sandy, what they have in common is that the death and destruction are not simply the result of nature, but of human greed. Developers will have their profits, oh yes they will. We build and build and build at the edge of the sea, in lowlands, on unconsolidated sediment, on barrier islands. We destroy habitats that actually allow some protection and then we are shocked at the damages from the storms.

In some places, like here on Eleuthera, pretty much the whole island is vulnerable to storm damage. Most towns in the Bahamas have a good many ruins in amongst the homes. The ruins are picturesque for tourists and photographers like me. But these were homes that people worked and lived in and raised their families in until the hurricane comes and rips them apart. There aren’t as many places to retreat to in the Bahamas, and yet they don’t suffer the devastation that mainland US coasts do when the storms hit. By and large, Bahamians are more sensible about their development. Though it would not surprise me to see a superstorm smack the living crap out of that Atlantis Resort. There’s a bit of hubris in putting a disneyland in hurricane heaven.

In the Bahamas, everyone lives by the sea. Everyone’s parents and grandparents and great grandparents and great, great grandparents lived by the sea. They get their food from the sea. They know it, they know its history and they respect it. Unlike Harry Reid. Unlike developers who build on barrier islands. Unlike folks who buy a condo at the shore. No bullshit con-artist developer with dollar signs in his eyes is going to be able to come in and tell the folks who really live here where it is safe to build. They know. And the shorelines of Eleuthera are peppered with the ruins of resorts built by people from the US and Europe who thought they knew better. Fools.

Oh, you just wait Cape Eleuthera. You will be washed to sea yet again. Hurakan’s gonna smack you down for your arrogance.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t help the victims of these storms, quite the contrary. But I do think we need to think long and hard about where we are building and how many times we can afford to help people rebuild. We’re cutting out money for some many important things. If the storms keep coming and getting bigger, there’s going to come a time when we can’t afford to help rebuild.

It’s life that suffers from all this building. The habitats on barrier islands and the shifting sands of beaches are very delicate. Things die. And worse, people die Mr. Reid. Hundreds of people die. Thousands of people die. Instead of asserting that there is no comparison between these storms, maybe you should very much be comparing them and looking at the data and seeing where our vulnerabilities are and the mistakes we make, both after and before, long before the storms hit.

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