Note: If this is your first visit to the site, please check out the Welcome above.
For those of you who lost someone, or maybe everything, in the late April tornadoes, my heart & prayers go out to you.
I blogged the following in my Welcome thinking about the recent earthquake & tsunami that hit Japan: “When nature really flexes her muscles, puny man is just screwed,…” I hadn’t anticipated that it would apply in the U.S. so soon. If we are to give our Grandchildren as good a world as possible, we need to minimize natural disaster traps. The April 30, Wall Street Journal, included the article, Battling Nature on the River. This nearly two page article covers floods and flood control on the Mississippi River system over roughly the last 100 years. It discusses lessons learned and lessons simply experienced. At the other end of the natural disaster spectrum, I recently finished reading Timothy Egan’s, The Big Burn, which chronicles the nation’s largest forest fire. In August of 1910 over three million acres of forests in Washington, Idaho, and Montana were destroyed by a series of fires driven by hurricane-force winds that coalesced into the Perfect Storm of forest fires.
While there is no way to predict when and where specific natural disasters will hit next, there is much we can anticipate and prepare for. Digression: “EP” is among the various assignments and tasks I’ve had over the course of 30+ years. I was detailed to Baton Rouge as part of the response team to Hurricane Katrina, and stayed long enough to experience Rita. It’s interesting to note that initially “EP” stood for Emergency Planning, and then the powers-that-be changed it to Emergency Preparedness on the basis that we don’t PLAN to have emergencies, we PREPARE for them. I can’t disagree, but a trivial point when you’re in the middle of “it.”
So what’s the point? And, how does it pertain to handing off the best world we can to our Grandchildren? While we can’t predict specific when’s and where’s, of natural catastrophic events, we can make some relatively good long range generalities. Over the course of the next 30 years there will be many small hurricanes and a few major ones to hit the Southeast coast. There will be several serious forest fires in the West, especially in the Southwest. There will be at least a few severe floods along the Mississippi, and many tornadoes in the Midwest & Southeast. We can’t do anything to prevent major natural events. We can prepare for them. We can build our homes, schools and businesses with a consideration of the natural forces likely to hit them. We can avoid building on the lowest ground, especially flood plains, to reduce flood damage. The same for building along the southeastern coast, and if we do build there, build structures designed to withstand hurricane force winds. If we must have a home in the Western forests, then include a sufficient fire zone around it and use fire resistant construction material. Tornadoes are especially hard to protect against because so much of the country is vulnerable and a direct hit from a tornado is almost like a direct hit from a bomb. Fortunately the direct path of a tornado is relatively small, unless it’s your neighborhood. Here are a couple websites on tornado safe structures: http://whyfiles.org/013tornado/5.html; http://static.monolithic.com/thedome/safe_home/index.html.
The homes we build today will be the homes of somebody’s Grandchildren tomorrow. We want them to have a safe place for their families to minimize the anguish of lost memories and lost lives. We want to minimize the wasted resources of destroyed homes, and other buildings. We want to set our Grandchildren up for success, not disappointment.