By Jill Chapin
An article I wrote in the Fog City Journal ten years ago bears re-posting below because it could have been written now. It warned of messing with Mother Nature and not heeding Her prior examples of just what She is capable of doing to those of us who live too close to the shore.
It is said that hurricane re-building is getting ever more expensive, but it’s not necessarily due to an increase in their numbers or power; rather it is due to an increase in building ever more expensive real estate in areas that will forever be vulnerable along the inexorable rise in sea level along the coast due to unchecked climate change.
But a more accurate accounting of why the devastation is getting worse is due to – us. We have simply refused to take significant measures to prepare for and minimize a hurricane’s destructive power. Nearly every town in Florida that was hit hard by Hurricane Ian was either severely damaged or completely destroyed.
Except for one place in particular. It is a testament to the power of people; it is also a sad commentary for those of us who balked at doing all that this town did. CNN’s Rachel Ramirez reported on a community called Babcock Ranch.
Although only twelve miles from obliterated Fort Myers, with winds over 100 mph and power knocked out to more than 2.6 million state customers, the power stayed on in Babcock Ranch. Other than uprooting trees and tearing shingles from roofs, there was no major damage.
Why? Because developers here prioritized climate resiliency in a state that is becoming increasingly at risk to catastrophe from violent hurricanes. Here’s what they did in addition to following Florida’s strict building codes:
-They are a 100% solar powered community.
– Their streets are designed to flood so houses don’t. Native landscaping was planted along roads to help control stormwater.
– Power and internet lines are buried to avoid wind damage.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: Those who believe something could never be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.
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