Part XIX of the “Florida, the State of the Future” Series
In updated reports, media sources say that dozens are dead from Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest and costliest U.S. storms. It will probably take hundreds of billions of dollars in insurance money, federal disaster funds, and state and community resources to rebuild homes, infrastructures, and businesses in the next two years or longer.
Florida, North and South Carolina face a massive clean-up starting this weekend from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Ian. The death toll and estimates of damages are rising.
Last February 4, this column said that perhaps the Biden Administration has learned from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) the adage “No guts, no glory.” President Biden’s slogan apparently ended the U.S. involvement in the Afghan tribal wars that are centuries-old in the making. Mr. Biden also acted boldly in going after illegal-gun owners, people selling spare parts for the so-called “ghost guns” or those prohibited by law from possessing or owning firearms.
His Administration has likewise launched the “Cancer Moonshot” project. It leads the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in helping Ukraine ward off the illegal war launched by Russia’s President Putin and his cronies in the Kremlin. Thus the title for that column was “The Biden of Old Is Now the Bold Biden.” For the record, this columnist said that the slogan is attributed to USAF Major General Frederick Corbin Blesse, who wrote a manual about air-to-air combat in 1955 that he dubbed “No Guts, No Glory.”
And speaking of the more than two decades of warfare in Afghanistan, the direct and indirect U.S. spending on everything from military equipment to homeland security to death gratuities for the families of slain American service members has cost $2.3-trillion (spelled with a T), so far. The estimate is from a study released on September 1, 2021, by Brown University’s Costs of War Project. CNN estimated that it cost the U.S. Treasury an average of $300 million per day before the total American pullout ordered by President Biden happened on August 30, 2021.
Perhaps, President Biden can again boldly ask the American people and a bipartisan U.S. Congress to budget $300 million per week — as the federal share — for a national and state program to prepare for the annual hurricane season. While modern science cannot reduce the intensity of hurricanes, advanced preparations can cut down the cost of billions of dollars in storm-caused damages and the number of casualties per year. It may be cheaper to make more substantial homes, buildings, and infrastructures instead of doing search-and-rescue operations in them — during and after the hurricanes have come and gone.
And it will cost less if advance evacuations of people living in coastal areas are done. Launching rescue operations are more-dangerous and costlier. Coordinating the efforts of weather bureaus and government agencies tasked with preventing loss of lives, injuries, and property damages due to natural calamities is better.
Modern engineering can make edifices survive the most powerful hurricanes and other storms — with their strengthened concrete roofs and walls intact after the calamity. Floods can also be mitigated by building an efficient drainage system — similar to the ones constructed at modest costs by Japanese engineers and construction companies in Metropolitan Tokyo. The drainage system vastly reduced the damages caused by heavy rainfall, typhoons, and storms, even though many Japanese cities are also experiencing higher sea levels and tides.
Efforts also can be made to persuade individual homeowners to form cooperatives to rebuild vertically in the form of condominium towers. Vertical housing can be safer and more robust than detached houses. And thus also reduce the acreage of the urban areas’ asphalt-and-concrete jungles. And support not-for-profit associations like the Save Our Rural Areas (SORA) in Florida may spearhead the planting of “memorial trees,” as this column discussed two weeks ago.
Many advanced preparations can save lives and prevent injuries and unnecessary loss of property, equipment, vehicles, yachts, and fishing boats. But it will take bold leadership on a national scale to do it and generate the needed political will in the entire country.