Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rebuilding after hurricanes

“Residents of Galveston on Sunday remembered the destruction Hurricane Ike inflicted on their Texas island city a year ago, but they also celebrated the community's efforts to rebuild, saying the storm has brought people closer together. During a sunrise memorial service to mark the storm's anniversary, clergy from the island's different faiths talked of the strides their community has made since Ike made landfall just outside Galveston in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2008. . . . Through the windows behind Green one could see Galveston's Seawall Boulevard, which runs along the beach and a year ago had been covered in rocks, sand, splintered wood and other debris that had been deposited there by Ike's powerful storm surge. On Sunday, cars flowed along the boulevard and people sat or walked along the beach. The hurricane damaged 75% of the city's houses . . . Galveston suffered more than $3.2 billion in damage. The city's largest employer, the University of Texas Medical Branch, temporarily shut down and had to lay off about 3,000 employees. Ike's powerful surge reached as high as 20 feet and its 110 mph winds caused more than $29 billion in damage in Texas. . . . . Galveston city leaders said 75% of businesses are now open and tourists have returned.”

What happens when the next hurricane hits?

Some places - - like cities built on sand bars in the paths of hurricanes - - are not meant for human habitation. How many times do we rebuild in hurricane and flood prone areas before we condition disaster relief on relocation?

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