« Stupidity on the increase? | Main | Caught in the act! »

September 28, 2008

Post hurricane meanderings ...

Visiting One Happy Dog Speaks the other day, I followed her link to another blog and found these stunning pictures on Boston.com of the pre-storm surge from Hurricane Ike and the post storm damage. As Happy Dog, alias VWBug, asks, what draws us to pictures of devastation? I suspect its an element of "Thank God it wasn't me!"

The scenes of devastation in Texas and a couple from Cuba and Haiti certainly bring home to me the enormous power of nature. And before anyone says it, no, I don't think the storms have become more powerful in the last decade or so. Two things have changed which also changes our perceptions of these events. The first, is that we now have much more immediate pictorial coverage of them, the second is that as the low-lying coastal areas have been developed in so many countries and the human population continues to grow unchecked, more property and more people are in harms way whenever a storm of this magnitude does occur.

The more we pave over, the greater the run-off we generate. More run-off, less "soak away" means that rivers can't handle the volume of water. Here in Britain we have the added stupidity of the Environment Agency and the usual "green" suspects refusing to dredge rivers. As the rivers silt up - the volume of water increasing from run-off becomes a factor the river cannot deal with any longer. Add to that building on flood plains and .....

Fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, these storms strode through sparsely populated areas and did as much damage to the environment as they have ever done. Now of course, we have thousands of homes and even more people living in the area the storm surge must invade - and the result is the tragedy in the pictures. Well, the hurricane season is now at an end for this year, and here in the idyllic Severn valley we await the usual winter rains and probable flooding in rather resigned fashion. A notice not far from my home advertises land for sale for "Recreational and Service use" - its flood plain land and despite numerous attempts the same crew of developers keep coming back and trying to get planning permission to build on it or to pave it over - either of which will lead to tragedy in the future. Some folk simply won't learn.

All of that said, I have nothing but sympathy for those affected by Hurricane Ike. The pictures say it all, but we really do need to think about where we allow communities to be developed and built since this activity is probably the single most likely cause of these disasters. Nature is as nature is, constantly changing and constantly a threat. We need to learn to live with it rather than trying to defy it.

Posted by The Gray Monk at September 28, 2008 10:48 AM


I certainly agree with your thought process. But for some reason, living near water is considered to be 'high class'... or whatever term of the year happens to be now... sigh...

Posted by: vw bug at September 29, 2008 11:47 PM