Blog Archive

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Natural Disasters or Avoidable Ones

About 500,000 people have been told to “get out of town” in and around San Diego. The hills are not alive with the sound of music. They are crawling with raging fire. Where are 500,000 people supposed to go? Do you think the roads are constructed to accommodate such a mass exodus? No. Do you think there are enough shelters and facilities and motel rooms available for this migration? Of course not. Do they have enough fire fighters and equipment to stop this firestorm? Nope. Could anyone have seen this coming? Most certainly.

In 2003, many died and thousands of homes were lost to similar fires in the same area. The Fire Chief at the time begged for more firefighters, more fire stations, and more equipment. The city fathers asked the public (they were the ones most in danger) for more money in the form of higher taxes to finance this additional protection. Guess what happened. The citizens voted it down. Those would be the folks now huddled in QualComm Stadium with no place to go.

Admittedly, even thousands more firefighters and a convoy of equipment likely would not have stopped this fire disaster. The truth is, disasters like these are set in motion years earlier when the perfect storm of greedy developers and weak government officials results in allowing dense development in a desert. When someone buys some land and decides to split it up into lots aligned along roads too small to support the development and in an area with insufficient water supply and unstable soils, a really useful local government would step in and put a stop to the whole idea. But, alas, strong local governments are as rare as unspoiled natural beauty is today. There is always someone willing to put everyone in peril just so they can get their own personal fortune made. This is always done to the persistent cadence of that lilting siren song, All Growth is Good - We Need More, More, More.

It is sad to see so many suffering in San Diego as a result of an event that any thoughtful person could see coming years ago. The same is true for the Atlanta area. They are simply out of water. For years local experts have been advising local politicians that the sprawling suburban growth around Atlanta was exceeding the water supply. But, big time developers were more important to the politicians that humble engineers armed with facts. Want an example closer to home? The same thing is about to happen to Bowling Green!

Bowling Green’s sole source of water is the Barren River. The flow to Bowling Green’s portion of the Barren River is totally dependent on how much water is being released from Barren River Dam. So, this year would seem to make it obvious to anyone with half-sense that Bowling Green has reached its maximum capacity. But, no one at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce believes this! Quite to the contrary, they are still pulling out all of the stops to attract additional business and industry to Bowling Green and Warren County.

And so it goes. All resources are finite. Water, electricity, oil, all of the things that make a community possible have their maximum yields, yet no one is willing to look any of these facts squarely in the face. So, we wind up looking at a neighbor on a cot next to us in the end zone of QualComm Stadium and wondering how such a disaster could happen. I guess that is easier than staring at the truth.


BigPoppy said...

Once again hind sight is 20 20, these folks or at least the ones who seem to get the most TV coverage who are shown with the home destroyed and a in ground pool in the back yard.They
all seem shocked that it happened again. I have often wondered why there has never been and infra stucture put in place that would create an irragation type system that could provide a barrier against these flames that strike every year. It would seem to me that the insurance industry would even be willing to subsidize part of the bill just to reduce claims. While ocean water would not be a perfect choice it would be readily available and alot less damaginging than the fires. But this is the opinion of a man who thought the levees in New Orleans should have been 20 feet taller when I worked there in 1990. At least this time the folks did not have to wait for some one to decide if this was a bad fire or a not so bad fire, or a wait and see if they need to leave fire. It will be interesting to see which state gets completely rebuilt first California or Louisiana. My bet is on the west coast.

Oh while I am at it great idea on the blog Billy I hope we can see some home town ideas debated and started here. Your leadership has made Glasgow years ahead of cities five times it size, when it comes to technology and the ease of it's use. Thanks and continue the good work.
Dennis Wooten