Friday, October 12, 2018

Why I Don't Live on the Beach in One Picture

A montage of Mexico Beach, Florida from yesterday and Gilchrist, Texas from 2008.   Hurricanes Michael and Ike respectively. 

The picture on the right came to mind immediately after seeing early reports out of Michael - I knew I had posted it in the early days of this blog, 2010.  The point of that post is that people talk about a "TEOTWAWKI" event like an EMP, a monster solar flare, the magnetic poles reversing or even a Screaming Meteor of Death, but something like this is many times more likely, and for all the people whose homes used to be on the scattered concrete pads visible in those pictures, this was the end of the world as they knew it.  

Hurricanes are part of the forces that shape the planet.  Beaches are not permanent.  If you decide to live on "shifting sands", you may outlive your house and you may not.  Either way, exactly when your house is no longer there is not your decision. 

The official death toll for Michael was three a little while ago.  The AP article (first link) says:
State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had defied a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Michael. More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in.
As we said Wednesday night, the storm intensified so radically, so fast that they may have thought it was too late to get out of town Wednesday morning.  There's really only two ways out of Mexico Beach: the best is probably US98 to 231 and then I-10; the other is a back road, 386.  Being stuck in traffic or broken down in a car isn't much better than being in one of those houses - probably worse.  Searches are ongoing, but I think three fatalities is low by quite a bit.  Maybe low by a couple of orders of magnitude.


  1. There are multiple people who refused to evacuate and are now missing. Friends of mine in USAR teams are telling me that there are several dozen people who are known to have not evacuated and are now missing. The link below is a woman searching for he missing neighbor:

  2. The main reason I don't live on the beach is that I don't sleep on a pile of currency.

    Not even Zimbabwean or Venezuelan. :D

    But this type of event is also very high on the list.

  3. This week is the anniversary of a hurricane that swept through the Caribbean in 1780, estimated fatalities 20 - 30 thousand. What would that be percentage wise of population, 10%, 15%, more? When I was young there were no satellite tracking of storm systems. Warnings were short lead and mere guesses ergo taken more seriously. What we see here is a form of familiarity breeding contempt.

  4. Aesop:

    You built a stick-built house 100 yards from the ocean, in a state with a maximum altitude above sea level of 345', and where most of the coast and the entire southern peninsula never rises above 33'?!?

    By state law, the only "insurance" you should be eligible for there should be the full current cash value of the house, deposited in cash as a bond, and held in trust. Annual recalculation mandatory, and any shortfalls required to be placed on deposit within 90 days. Any lawsuits for shoddy building should be mandatorily dismissed, prima facie. And after any 2 such bond disbursements in one calendar century, the land should be declared wasteland, master-zoned as unbuildable for any purpose whatsoever, and forfeit to the state in perpetuity for $1. Any municipality issuing a building or occupancy permit contrary to this should be automatically decertified and revert to unincorporated status.

    Ditto for jackholes building in brushfire habitat and under or on landslides.

    Problem solved.

    1. And tornado zones as well? And how about earthquake zones? And blizzards? Or are you selective in the expected catastrophes that don't deserve insurance?

      And don't forget the volcanoes for our Hawaiian friends...

    2. Afraid I'm more or less with Mark on this one, Aesop, and you know I love you like a brother, man.

      I think this should be free market, between willing buyer and willing seller. No telling them what they can charge or how much they can raise premiums, just the companies set premiums based on expected costs. If you don't want to pay for the insurance, don't buy on the beach. If nobody wants to sell insurance to you and you still buy that dream house: YOYO.

      Doesn't every place have some natural disaster it's prone to?

    3. Free market is the way to go. Though hurricanes are more likely to hit any given part of the coast than a tornado is to hit a particular house, a free insurance market could easily handle it. If no one is willing to sell you insurance, that should be hint about the wisdom of your planned purchase. If you're stupid enough to go ahead with it without it being done with "fuck you" money, then, well, fuck you. You have only yourself to blame.

    4. I live in the Northwest. It is a pine forest that extends 1000 miles from the Canadian border to well into California and about 150 miles more or less wide. When I bought here I tried to get insurance through a nationwide company and they declined because of the fire risk. But I drive to the nearest town and get a local office for a nationwide insurance and it's "sure, no problem". There is a risk, all Summer we were breathing smoke from 3-6 fires. I know for sure that next Summer there will be another half dozen or so fires, and the Summer after that and every Summer.

    5. Aesop:
      If you put down a house designed to survive the trending disaster, rather than feed into it and make it worse, you obviate the problem.

      Reductio ad absurdum is still a logical fallacy, boys and girls.

      I'm arguing for roasting the Little Pigs who build out of straw and sticks, not roasting all the pigs who don't.

      We have frickin' airplane windshields that routinely handle 600MPH winds for standard everyday duty. If you're in Tornado Alley, trailer housing should be verbotten, and a flogging offense. Stamping "Winnebago" on your trashdump shanty doesn't make it a mansion.

      The same for building a house with a wood shake roof in a brushfire zone.

      If you read what I wrote, instead of what you think I wrote, you'd have gotten here first, guys.

      You want to sink foundation, and build out of concrete reinforced with rebar, with adequately-rated windows right on the beach of Hurricane City? ROWYBS

      There was a guy here in CA who built an earth-sheltered house with triple-pane glass, and sat inside while a brushfire rolled over it, and down to the Pacific Ocean. All he lost were 500 jackassical neighbors that weren't that bright. Bravo to that!

      There's a reason those lighthouses built on rocks in storm surge zones aren't made of cinder block or hay bales, doncha think...?

      If your house is built to a rational code in those regions, well and good.

      So I expect to see three-foot foundation walls on Hurricane Beach tied to bedrock foundations, not 2"x4"s on a grade slab at an elevation of 2' ASL.

      Fucktards who do that deserve the fucktard treatment.
      If 300 of them disappeared this time around, that's Darwinian selection cleansing the gene pool, not a tragedy.

    6. (cont.)
      I'm tired of faux sob stories about outright dipshits who built a house of newspaper, then look all surprised and shocked when it doesn't hold up to the normal, expected, predicted, every-year-since-Adam natural conditions in their chosen spots.

      A bunch of folks got all butthurt when I pointed that out when 50-100 people in a neighborhood got buried in mud because TPTB had foolishly allowed development in spots under a hillside that slides out all the time, on a 30-40 year schedule, as two seconds looking at an aerial view would confirm. I've seen the same thing here in Califrutopia when cities with more greed than common sense allow development on hillsides that slide into the sea all the time, just as jackholes in Hawaii build between an active volcano and the ocean. Seven islands to pick from, and you built next to the only active volcano? The one erupting regularly? Well, eff you, and the horse you rode into town.
      (And BTW, this answers the question "If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" for them in the affirmative.)

      If you want to rename them all Stupidville, and simply stop all county/state/federal services by law in perpetuity, 24/7/365, including utilities, roads, or any disaster relief, for those beyond the borders of the real world, out on barrier islands, in Brushfire Canyon, and to the monumental a-holes who want to build nuclear reactors right on top of active fault lines, I'm fine with that too. The world needs more demonstration of why Pure Libertarian = Lunacy, unless you have more money than brains.
      Provided that if any of their shenanigans harms anyone else, or they get caught trying to fraudulently lay claim to relief at any point, they get flayed to death with glass and fish hook-barbed cat-o-nine-tails in the public square, after we do the same to their families in front of them first.

      Just stop pretending these are "disasters" of anything but an inability to have an IQ above room temperature in the Northwest Territory in January.

      Stop subsidizing Epic Stupid, and you'll see far less of it.
      And stop defining 60 as the Mean IQ, and making apologies for it.
      It's one thing to give retarded kids football helmets.
      It's another thing to set them loose to walk on the interstate, and grant them the right of way.

    7. Aesop:
      And to make it clear, the biggest problem is that state and congressional disaster relief immediately violates all rules of a free market.

      State and federal disaster relief, by law, and including the Red Cross, for such Designated Stupidity Abatement Zones, should be limited to a 3"x5" postcard from your congressweasel and state rep saying, "Sorry for your loss. Maybe next time, think ahead, and don't be so stupid."

      Anything else they send should come out of their own pockets and salaries, not the taxpayers'.

      When that happens, we can talk about letting people build in the assholian precincts.

      Wishing we had a free market subject to the Invisible Hand of the marketplace is not the same thing as actually having one.