Sunday, April 22, 2018
Human Interest

Excerpt: Hiaasen nails Florida's hurricane denial

Right now, the concern about hurricanes centers on new federal flood insurance rules that are sending policy prices into the ozone, especially for homes that aren't waterfront McMansions. But Carl Hiaasen, the "weird Florida" novelist and columnist/watchdog, reminds residents that insurance is the least of our worries. His latest book, Dance of the Reptiles (Vintage Originals, 416 pages), is a collection of his columns from the Miami Herald. In "When Will We Be Ready for the Next One? Never," dated Nov. 13, 2005, he deconstructs the finger-pointing after Hurricane Wilma.

 

The truth is, urban South Florida will never be prepared for a major hurricane. The idea of evacuating six million people is ludicrous, and the vast majority will be either stuck on the highways or stuck in their homes.

If a slow-moving Category 4 or 5 storm strikes head-on any place from West Palm Beach to South Miami, plan on mass destruction, long-term shortages of fuel and food, disorder in the streets, and, of course, darkness.

There's no other possible scenario, unless they bulldoze the whole peninsula, boot everyone out and start over. Catastrophic mistakes have literally been set in concrete, as has our fate.

How many cities and counties in South Florida govern development with future hurricanes in mind? The road systems are designed purely to feed growth. High-rises and subdivisions are mapped to maximize density. The result is sprawl, suffocating congestion, and — when the storm hits — the collapse of an overburdened infrastructure. Big surprise.

For decades, the state's governors and legislative leaders have avidly encouraged reckless coastal growth, beholden as they've been to mega-developers, road builders, banks and others getting rich from cramming more people into Florida. Now our lawmakers sit around, scrounging for somebody to blame for the havoc caused by Hurricane Wilma. What boneheads.

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