Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hard Choices after Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy was a devastating and tragic event. It caused major damage all along our eastern seaboard from Virginia to Maine. People lost their lives, their homes and their possessions. Now FEMA and other agencies in the Federal Government are scrambling to provide assistance. The Red Cross and other charities are raising money and sending relief. States from other parts of the country have sent utility crews and other workers to help getting the power back on a soon as possible. These are all good things. It's what we Americans do following a disaster -pitch in and help each other out.

But, once the initial tasks of finding shelter and food, and of getting power and basic services restored has been accomplished, we then need to turn to the question of rebuilding. That's when we need to stop and think first. Meteorologists have now told us that we are in a weather pattern which will mean that over the next 5 or 6 years, we can expect at least 3 or 4 more hurricanes of similar magnitude to strike in some of the same areas. If that is true, how smart is it to rebuild in the same places along the coast where we were hit so hard? Should the government be called on again to help with rebuilding next time if people choose to build there again in spite of the warnings?

What about reconstruction in places where rebuilding is necessary, such as the Atlantic City Boardwalk or lower Manhattan? Would it not be reasonable to say to them: "We will be there for you to help rebuild, but you must take steps to protect against another hurricane like that or we won't be there next time"? I am not suggesting that they need to move out of lower Manhattan or places like that. I am suggesting that, knowing this kind of disastrous storm may be coming our way again, soon, there are things that the city fathers should be obligated to do in order to protect their cities. And if they fail to even try -why should the taxpayers across the country bail them out again, and again?

Einstein told us that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. It is insane to allow people to rebuild in a spot we know is going to be struck by a powerful hurricane again and tell those people, 'Don't worry. We know what a beautiful spot that is to live. It's OK, we'll insure you against loss. We'll help you rebuild again if you want to live there.'

If they truly want to live there, fine, they can. But that's their choice and they have to accept the responsibility and the consequences for that decision. They need to understand that they either provide their own insurance and build structures more able to withstand a hurricane of that magnitude or they take the risk of loosing it all. We taxpayers are willing to help out -once. After that, it's their choice. We should not go on subsidizing their ocean front homes with nice views.

Live Long and Prosper...

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