Whether you believe in global warming or not the one thing we can all agree on is we have people living in areas they have no business living in. Taking it a step further, we have trillions of dollars invested in areas we have no business investing in.
I have written on several occasions about my experience with Hurricane Hugo which hit the South Carolina coast 28 years ago. I traveled to Charleston a week after Hugo made landfall and saw the devastation first hand. My great-uncle owned a home in Garden City which was lifted off its foundation and deposited four blocks away in a lake. The house across the street from my in-laws beach house exploded from the inside out. McClellanville, SC where the eye of the storm came onshore looked like it had been hit by the Mother of All Bombs.
I remember thinking then that there was no way this area would ever look the same, I was wrong. Except for the posters you can still buy in the gift shops, 28 years later you would never know Hugo even existed.
What lessons do we learn from natural disasters like Hugo, Katrina and now Harvey? Few that are meaningful. Rather than reviewing where people should live, the focus is typically on building standards. I would say that Charleston, SC has expanded ten fold since Hugo. Houses that were destroyed along the beach were rebuilt bigger and grander than before even as the ocean now laps at their foundations.
Here is the one thing I am sure about, the Hugo’s, the Katrina’s and the Harvey’s are going to keep coming. And what will we do? Let the storms tear us down and then we just build it back up again, and again. We all know what the definition of insanity is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. This is certainly the definition of insanity. When will we learn? What will it take?
I don’t want to dump on Trump, okay maybe just a little, but we all know that he is not the “environmentally friendly” President or apparently the smartest President. He proved that again recently when he rescinded a life-saving Obama-era rule that required federally funded infrastructure like schools, housing, and highways to be better able to withstand flood damage. Whats the definition of insanity?
Tragedies like Houston, and New Orleans aren’t going to go away they are just going to move to Pensacola, Miami, Jacksonville, and Norfolk. Maybe they won’t happen every year, maybe they won’t happen every five years, but they are going to continue to happen. And as the oceans get warmer, and the waters rise because the ice caps are melting, and the coastal communities continue to grow with more houses and more people it is going to get worse, much worse.