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Floods and Hurricaines

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've spoken to many people about this issue, and to my surprise found that many agreed with me. I thought I'd get lynched for suggesting it. So, thought I'd see what people here think. The issue is this: there are a number of places where floods or hurricaines are a known factor. Places where you simply expect that every few years you're going to get damage to your home/business and every 10 years or so the damage will be major. It seems to me that people should not be living in such locations, or at the very least if they insist on it they shouldn't get emergency funds to rebuild or recompense them for any material loss.

Part of the problem is that a lot of these types of towns were put there before we knew enough about flooding. It was back in the day when we thought nature was simple to control. So, it seems like we need to set up a program to relocate these towns when catastrophic flood/hurricaine occurs, not to rebuild it in the same place.

There are also places like New Orleans, where it isn't so much that you know damage will occur every year as it is that you know you are in a location where catasrophic damage is possible if one of your safeguards should fail. I have to say I'm very leary of rebuilding that city in the exact same location, a coastal city below sea level. Even if they fix existing problems with their storm protection, global temperature rise is causing arctic ice to melt (whether you think this is human induced or not is irrelevent, because it IS happening). So, today's protection won't be enough in another 10-20 years. And it will be New Orleans disaster part two.

Just so you know, I'm not saying this from a totally flood-protected location; I'm not in a "that's easy for you to say" position. I happen to work in a city that is not coastal, but is protected ONLY due to the presence of levees. The same thing I'm saying about New Orleans I say about my own city. If the levees breach and we get catastrophic flood, I think we should seriously consider whether or not to rebuild further out from the rivers rather than right up against the banks where they have no room to swell during flood. Even if it would mean I lose my job and have to go elsewhere. It's just more sensible.

What do you think?
post #2 of 20
I hear what you are saying, but the same can be said about almost every other state. Out here in California we have the earthquakes, the midwest have their tornadoes and the south has their hurricanes.

I am just saying that no matter where you live, castrophic weather can occur. At least in hurricane country they have a warning that it is coming. Tornado country have even less of a warning. Earthquake country has no warning at all. I don't know what part of CA you live but here where I am we haven't had a major quake in over 50 years. I know we are overdue for one.

The people in New Orleans know full well the danger. They still chose to live there. People in Los Angeles and San Fransisco know that a quake could strike at any minute but they still live there. Some people in Oklahoma (and other states) still chose to live in mobile homes knowing a tornado could tear it to shreads. We live where we are most comfortable living. We know the dangers Mother Nature can unleash when she's angry.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Yes, but my point is that some areas receive major damage on a regular basis. Earthquakes are hit and miss. You may never need to cash in on insurance for earthquake damage. Same with tornadoes. But for flood areas, you end up cashing in every couple of years or so. In my mind, insurance is for the rare event, not the one you know for a certainty will happen on a several-year schedule.
post #4 of 20
Obi
I couldnt agree more..

I lived in torndao alley for five years and didnt loss evan a shingle.. Tornados and earthquakes occur in semi random areas ... Odds are evan directly on a fault you would nt be struck hard twice in a lifetime... Hurricanes are nearly a yearly event .... and they occur in a rather rgular pattern and locations...
post #5 of 20
The US taxpayers don't subsidize insurance for earthquakes or tornadoes, as they do for floods. I don't feel that I should have to help pay the insurance, on some wealthy person's beachfront home.

Recently, a large chunk of the Tucson area was removed from the national floodplain district, as the banks of our mostly dry riverbeds and washes have been adequately stabilized. Prior to this, people were not allowed to build on the floodplains. There were some structures, that predated the floodplain law but, most of those washed away, in the Flood of '83.
post #6 of 20
I agree. While there are natural disaster risks every place, some areas are more of a sure bet that something will happen than others. It seems to be about every other year or so that there are homes falling into the ocean or at least off the sides of hills in California. And they are usually the multi-million dollar homes for the people who just *have* to live by the beach.

Another place you couldn't pay me to live? IN a canyon right next to a river. Back in the 1970s there was a major flood (2 dam breaks because of heavy rain in the higher elevation) down the Big Thompson Canyon. There were quite a few deaths when the 50 foot wall of water came crashing down the canyon with very little warning. For a good 10-15 years, nothing was built in those locations that were wiped clean by Mother Nature, but in the last 5-7 years there are more and more buildings popping up - some commercial and some residential.

As for hurricanes? I suspect much the same will happen with New Orleans. For a few years people will stay away and/or take extra precautions with new construction. But give it 10-15 years without another major hurricane and they will forget all about Katrina.

As the only species (that we know of) that keeps historical records of such events, we should be smart enough to learn from them. And while we cannot expect the individual to be smart enough not to make the same mistake twice, particularly if the last even was not within their lifetime, the collective (read: government) should make that choice for them.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e
The US taxpayers don't subsidize insurance for earthquakes or tornadoes, as they do for floods. I don't feel that I should have to help pay the insurance, on some wealthy person's beachfront home.
I'm with ya there 100% -- if they're dumb enough to build on the beach then why should I help pay for rebuilding?

Furthermore, building codes should require structures to withstand the most prevalent threat, whether it be hurricanes, earthquakes, whatever. Some places are enlightened enough to require this for new construction, such as the Florida Keys for hurricanes. But old structures are still threatened.
post #8 of 20
After two office buildings were washed into the Rillito River, in '83, the banks were concreted and rimmed with a linear park. No more need for taxpayer-subsidized flood insurance there!
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e
After two office buildings were washed into the Rillito River, in '83, the banks were concreted and rimmed with a linear park. No more need for taxpayer-subsidized flood insurance there!
And THAT is a practice I abhor. Sorry, no slight to you intended. The environmental damage done by lining and straightening natural streams is huge. Creeks need trees growing along the banks to provide shade, which keeps the water temperature down. Without this, everything from amphibians to fish find they cannot live there well anymore. Furthermore, increased temperatures contribute to algal blooms, which further degrades the habitat and causes nuisance odors for humans. Also, since none of the water can absorb into the surrounding soil because concrete is in the way, downstream floods are worsened and there is less recharge of groundwater supplies. This is one of my gripes. Rather than build in a more suitable location, we protect our buildings by placing concrete in the channel and building levees, destorying the natural regime of the creek. This helps our flood problems in that location in the short-term, but the long-term effect on the environment and on us is far worse. So, we may no longer have to fund flood insurance there, but we still pay for things like that in less obvious ways. For instance, the substantial decline in salmon fisheries in CA is largely due to the fact that many streams that used to host large salmon runs are now totally devoid of salmon, because there are too many obstructions to migration (dams and culverts) and because the water temperatures are too high. Uh oh. Sorry about the soap box!
post #10 of 20
Is FEMA the federal insurance or payouts you're talking about? I know that FEMA made payments after the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles.
post #11 of 20
Federal flood insurance.
post #12 of 20
This is a distressing subject to me. We live on the Spacecoast of Florida about a 20 minute drive west of the beach. There are 2 rivers on the way, so there is still "water" relatively close to us. We are not in a flood zone. When I moved here in '83 until just a few years ago, hurricanes were not all that common. I mean, we had one here and there, but it rarely hit the space coast. I would get upset when people bragged about that because it seemed to me that conditions could cause that to change. Well, they did.

Anyway, now that we have made our lives here, we're in our mid-40's, have pretty good jobs, etc. we have to worry every fall if there will be a hurricane. If we pick up and begin our lives over elsewhere, we don't know that wherever we move some other natural disaster could be waiting to happen.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obi
And THAT is a practice I abhor. Sorry, no slight to you intended. The environmental damage done by lining and straightening natural streams is huge. Creeks need trees growing along the banks to provide shade, which keeps the water temperature down. Without this, everything from amphibians to fish find they cannot live there well anymore. Furthermore, increased temperatures contribute to algal blooms, which further degrades the habitat and causes nuisance odors for humans. Also, since none of the water can absorb into the surrounding soil because concrete is in the way, downstream floods are worsened and there is less recharge of groundwater supplies. This is one of my gripes. Rather than build in a more suitable location, we protect our buildings by placing concrete in the channel and building levees, destroying the natural regime of the creek. This helps our flood problems in that location in the short-term, but the long-term effect on the environment and on us is far worse. So, we may no longer have to fund flood insurance there, but we still pay for things like that in less obvious ways. For instance, the substantial decline in salmon fisheries in CA is largely due to the fact that many streams that used to host large salmon runs are now totally devoid of salmon, because there are too many obstructions to migration (dams and culverts) and because the water temperatures are too high. Uh oh. Sorry about the soap box!
The problem is, how do you force people to move? I live in a country with a lot of medieval cities, naturally built right along major rivers, which were the main transport routes in those days, and flooding is a major problem (think eastern Germany in August of 2002 - the floods were devastating). I see it in my own small town. There are buildings from the late 14th/early 15th century built right beside the river, which floods at least once a year, causing major damage. Instead of moving the historical buildings, the towns along the river have put out millions of euros on flood control, which not only hasn't been 100% effective, but has also destroyed the natural habitats of many species. Since 2002, no flood insurance has been available, but that hasn't stopped people from living along the rivers.
post #14 of 20
The majority of Arizona's rivers are dry, including the two that run through Tucson. When we get flooding, it erodes the banks and causes untold amounts of damage. House originally built several hundred feet from the riverbanks have eventually been washed away. There are no fish to protect and only desert scrub grows along these riverbanks.

Concreting the banks and turning them into linear parks is one way to keep some open space and keep the bridges from washing out.
post #15 of 20
Somewhat along the same vein as what jcat said, New Orleans has a bit of the same problem. It is a very historical city, one of the oldest in the US if I'm not mistaken, and although obviously it can't compete with 14th & 15th century medieval structures (one of these days I have got to get to Europe!) still has that history going for it. Moving the actual structures just isn't the same for some reason as looking at a building on its original foundation. Here is a slice of NO history.

I do agree that if you're going to live in a flood zone, you shouldn't expect everybody else to pick up the tab for you if you get flooded out. There are some places that ought to be no-brainers as to where to live. On the flanks of an active volcano, downstream from huge dams, Anywhere within 20 miles of the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic coast up to about North Carolina, and on a flood plain. That said, I live on a floodplain . I would give anything to have this house be somewhere else so that I wouldn't be so freaked when we start having heavy rains (we don't have flood insurance.) And it does get a bit hairy at times --- (flood pic)
post #16 of 20
I think that it should simply be mandatory for anyone purchasing or leasing a residence to get factual information on the natural disasters that can hit that area, along with a risk factor (chances that they will happen again) BEFORE they sign the papers.

There are dangers anywhere you live. I look at it as how much risk are you willing to put yourself thru. When a tornado hit our house 2 years ago, I considered moving to get away from that danger, then realized I would need to pick a new danger where ever I go.

I don't think you could force people to move - look at all the wars fought over land in human history. People settle in and don't want to move regardless of their risk.
post #17 of 20
An engineer I worked for suggested that the government rebuild the areas more prone to flooding by building spherical houses. Then if a flood happens and the homeowners refuse or can't leave, then the rising water picks them up and carries them to a higher ground. I pictured it and thought it would be hilarious to watch the news with the next flooding disaster and see a bunch of houses floating by
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom
An engineer I worked for suggested that the government rebuild the areas more prone to flooding by building spherical houses. Then if a flood happens and the homeowners refuse or can't leave, then the rising water picks them up and carries them to a higher ground. I pictured it and thought it would be hilarious to watch the news with the next flooding disaster and see a bunch of houses floating by
Heh, sounds good to me! Unfortunately most people are so hidebound in tradition, that any house out of the ordinary just isn't going to go. Presumably dome houses as a case in point are supposed to be much more wind-proof than a traditional 4 walls and a gable roof residence. But I suspect you're not going to get people to move into domes because they're just too "weird" for most folks. Close to the coast I s'pose a dome about 20-30 feet up in the air would be the thing, to get away from the storm surge. In an area that is prone to wind storms (not flooding, just wind as in tornadoes) an underground house would be the way to go. You're not going to get people to move into those, either, although I love the idea of a house no one can actually see. Sort of like a Hobbit hole .
post #19 of 20
I was watching the show Megastructures a couple of weeks ago and it was all about the Netherlands and how they're combating flooding. One option they're researching is that when floods happen, and they inevitably will, to direct the water to specific areas and in those areas, the houses are built with the capability to float. Not spheres, but regular homes built on these lever thingees (technical, I know). It was a fascinating show.

And it's way to late in the day to regulate where people are going to live along the coasts in FL. I grew up in the Tampa Bay area. Most people recognize the threat, but accept it as a tradeoff to living there. And there hasn't been a direct hit on the area in something like 80 years. You roll the dice no matter where you live to a certain extent. I now live in Colorado Springs and a couple of weeks ago there was an article in the paper on the potential of a damaging flood.
post #20 of 20
I live on the "Space Coast" of Florida, too, about a 10 minute drive across the Causeway from the beach. I think that maybe some assume that everyone living near the coast is rich, but that's not the case.Most of us are your basic working, tax-paying people who live here for some reason or another. Some are brought here by fate, some grew up here, & some can't afford to leave.
Although I don't have too much sympathy for someone who builds a house on an eroding beach, there are many of us who live inland who still have to deal with the aftereffects of our famous storms. Although our home wasn't damaged, we were out of work for almost 2 weeks because our shop had no power. Everyone is affected differently, rich & poor alike, prepared & unprepared.
Would I leave here if I could? Lately, I would say, Yes, but not because of the storms. More so because of the skyrocketing cost of everything SINCE the storms. But it can cost thousands to leave an area to live several states away. I know this from personal experience. Does the average working person have the money to spend on this kind of gamble? Usually not.
At this point, I would go back to live in PA where I grew up if only I knew there was a good job for me there. But not because of the storms, it would be because there are just too many people moving here, ruining what makes this state so beautiful to begin with. The water, the wildlife, & yes, those big storms.
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