Alright, this is about as callous as I get. Bear with me.
I’ve been looking at some photos of the property damage done by hurricane Charley. Roofs torn off, whole neighborhoods practically flattened, boats and small planes destroyed. I’ve also been hearing the stories of people sweltering in the August heat without power for their air conditioners, and lacking basic necessities like clean water. And vying with the sense of tragedy in my mind was another feeling: disgust for the idiocy of the property owners.
Terrible, I know. But hear me out. When this country was first settled, I can’t imagine the homesteaders siting and building a new house without careful consideration of the nearby topology, local weather patterns, prevailing winds, etc. They understood that if you didn’t respect nature, she would kill you without a second thought.
These days, in the “tamed” United States, people seem to have the idea that they can settle down anywhere they fancy, in the flimsiest of structures, and expect to be perfectly safe. Water, power, and sewers are so ubiquitous as to be taken for granted. And nature’s inconveniences can always be circumvented – wetlands can be drained, rivers diverted.
And then we’re all shocked and horrified when nature casually devastates a few thousand lives.
Look, it’s gutwrenching to see some of those images, but come on, people. Unlike in the third world, we actually have the means to more or less live where we choose. These people chose to live in Florida, of all places. This is a state that nature practically put a big “Fuck Off” sign on. It’s hot as hell, only with higher humidity. It’s infested with giant disease-wridden belligerent insects. It’s damp, smelly, moldy, and much of it is at or below sea-level. It’s right in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms every freaking year. Not to mention there are fucking dinosaurs wandering around looking for unwary snacks. And yet they chose to live there. In trailor homes.
Yeah, I know, not everyone can afford a big house of there own. They could have gotten apartments in sturdier buildings. Or bought trailors somewhere where mom nature isn’t actively looking for an excuse to kill you. But no. My guess? They never gave a second thought to environmental considerations when they were deciding where to live. It was close to the job, or close to the right school, and it was in Florida, which some people seem to think is the fucking Garden of Eden, god knows why. And that was enough for them.
My ire isn’t directed solely at Floridians. I feel the same about people who settle in flood plains, or on fault lines, or in wildfire-prone areas, or right at the edge of a bay. Everyone who builds a house at the backside of nowhere and fails to take adequate precautions for when the power goes out for an extended period of time. Everyone who would find themselves without basic necessities or access to medical help if the snowplows failed to dig them out the day after a blizzard.
Nature hasn’t rolled over and become a pussy in the last couple hundred years. She’s still the biggest bitch on the block, and she doesn’t give a shit about your suburban dream. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that some places are more dangerous to live than others, and that if you must live there, it behooves you to take certain precautions. Like maybe getting a house made out of something heavier than toothpicks. Like investing in a generator, or a gas stove, or a snowmobile. Yeah, Uncle Sam will probably bail your moron ass out even if you don’t, but wouldn’t it be nice to avoid having your life turned upside-down in the first place?