A Slabbed reader comment by Angela Rouse:
I was forwarded the link to your site, specifically the one that references my name . . . “stupid is as stupid does” by a friend who felt she had hit a Google landmine.
I suppose it is easy to write stuff like that when you don’t actually have to sign a name to it.
Anyway, because my post you address is no longer accessible, I have copied it below for you to post if you choose to give your readership the benefit of actually reading what you critique with such vehemence.
And, for the record, I grew up in Louisiana, and am extremely sensitive to the travails of life there during and after Hurricane Katrina.
The point of the post (which was evidently misunderstood) is that nationwide we need to take a look at responsible development. Nobody, including myself, will argue that we can predict natural disasters without fail in all scenarios. If that were the case, the insurance companies would be out of business.
Likewise, any realist, myself included, knows that every locale has risk.
However, just because we have insurance or disaster relief funds and programs available does not negate the need for responsible development, especially when given historical data, good risk modeling scenarios and predictors.
Risk analysts drew attention to the inadequate levees and predicted the effects of a Hurricane Katriina-level storm on New Orleans years before it actually happened.
Very specific areas in California have a recurring history of landslides, and yet people continue to rebuild.
In my post, I state ” . . . should more be done to restrict current and future development in areas that are at an abnormally high risk for certain natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, floods and forest fires?” Highlight in your mind the words “current and future development” and “abnormally high risk” to understand that there are indeed parameters around this argument.
Re-read my post, (which follows) again or in its entirety to begin with, as I suspect you need to, and you will see that “stupid is as stupid does” is better suited for people that ignore history, facts and sound risk modeling, and build where they want to in order to “make a buck” or for a good million-dollar view.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see if you have the courage to post all of this (my comments included), along with your name. I suspect not.
Natural Disasters and Responsible Development Should Not Be Mutually Exclusive
The devastation in Haiti reminds us all of the conflicting, paradoxical fact that human life can be both fragile and resilient at the same time. Despite knowing one’s homeland or region is prone to such catastrophes, oftentimes, the general population, usually poor and hampered by geographic boundaries, is unable to relocate to safer residences in anticipation of such an event. Add to the very real political and monetary barriers, the fact that earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, and forest fires happen with virtually little to no warning, is a recipe for disaster that occurs, unfortunately, with relative frequency. Countries plagued by such disasters, like Haiti, of course, need help in both their immediate response to and long-term recovery from these disasters.
Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of this catastrophe’s effect on the city of New Orleans is a more recent example of this type of disaster occurring on the soil of a large and wealthy nation, one that has more options than the country of Haiti. While it may be argued that many of the casualties of Katrina were due to similar economic and physical challenges, it can also be argued that many deaths were avoidable.
These situations of devastation and human loss pose the question whether, when given the resources, such as here in the United States, should we require people to relocate permanently to avoid the loss of human life? Furthermore, should more be done to restrict current and future development in areas that are at an abnormally high risk for certain natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, floods and forest fires? For example, why were developers ever given the green light to build new homes in the coastal community of La Conchita, California or other Bluebird Canyon communities that have a long history of landslides? Why do people continue to build ocean-front homes in hurricane-prone areas like Florida? Why do people choose to live dangerously close to volcanoes? When considering risk to human life, saying a volcano is dormant doesn’t mean a whole lot. Both Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Pinatubo were considered dormant shortly before they erupted. Are million-dollar views worth the loss of human life and the billions in rescue, recovery and reconstruction costs?
There will always be natural disasters that are unavoidable. However, as our populations expand and our sense of entitlement to live wherever we choose grows, have we allowed our appreciation for convenience and aesthetics to overstep our own common sense? Some will answer “yes” with insurance providing us the ability to live precariously perched on scenic hilltops, or under the shadow of a beautiful, yet potentially deadly mountain, or with literally “killer” views of the Atlantic Ocean. However, practically and ethically speaking, is it right, insurance or not, to establish and expand communities in such areas, especially when it is more than the foolhardy that pay the costs when disaster occurs? While it is acknowledged that rate increases as a result of catastrophes do occur more in the general region in which the disaster occurred, there is a widespread acknowledgement that the country does absorb some of these costs through more moderate rate increases, assistance to
disaster-stricken states and drastic population shifts.
During his campaign, President Obama lobbied for a national catastrophe fund to more adequately prepare and help victims of natural disasters and the insurance industry. While Obama states that responsible development must go hand-in-hand with the implementation of such a fund, what are our guarantees that this will actually occur? How can we be assured that developers, communities and the government will be responsible with residential and commercial development and planning when we have the example of the Bluebird Canyon area of California? Landslides with significant human and financial costs occurred there in 1978 and 1998, and yet development continued despite another landslide in 2005 that destroyed 17 multi-million dollar homes. Let us not forget places like Galveston, Texas. In the last century, Galveston endured three major hurricanes, with estimates of over 8,000 people lost and approximately 3 billion dollars worth of damage total. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of these hurricanes, the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 still holds the record for the “deadliest natural disaster in the nation’s history.” Call it the fortitude of the human spirit to “never give up” or an awfully bad stubborn streak, but with those statistics, one wonders why anyone would want to live there, and yet they do. Putting aside the debate on the implications to private insurance, with our track record of haphazard community planning, and without established and strict development restrictions, couldn’t a national catastrophe fund just simply make it a whole lot easier to repeat our past mistakes?