Day by Day



08 May 2007

Should we...



Greensburg, Kansas was devastated by a tornado which essentially annihilated the town. The storm was so powerful, that no public services remain. The entire main business district in this town of fifteen hundred was leveled. The governor of Kansas has made some irresponsible statements regarding the ability of her state to respond based upon National Guard deployment schedules. I can not comment on her statement, my instinct tells me it’s worthless, much as Sen. Dick Durbin’s comments about what he knew and when about the debate over the invasion of Iraq.

By the way, if you are interested in helping out, please follow this link.

To the point, Greensburg suffered a terrible tragedy. Miraculously, only 10 people lost their lives in what was billed as a F5 tornado with 205 mph winds. There was some clear preparedness by the people of the town and sufficient warning to save almost everyone.

My question is now what?

Should we rebuild Greensburg?

Does the government, state, local or otherwise, have an obligation to rebuild a city so utterly destroyed? During the great Mississippi floods of the mid 1990s, whole towns were decimated. Despite the singular nature of the flood, some towns were not rebuilt. Some towns were relocated.





The scale of the 1993 flood was so large that it overcame all measures to deal with it. The scale of the destruction of the Greensburg tornado is large enough that it overwhelms the regional ability to handle it.

Katrina impacted the Gulf Coast to such an extent that many municipalities are thinking twice about rebuilding.

The town should be commended to preventing a massive loss of life. Regrettably, the only task remaining for Greensburg is to remove the debris, shelter the homeless and decide on how and whether to rebuild.

14 comments:

sonicfrog said...

I too cringed when I heard that statement. On the other hand, there is some basis in the argument. In economics, you find a concept called opportunity cost. Basically, you only have "X" amount of resource "Y". If you use some of "Y" for one thing, then have less of it to be used for another. Still, the statement was ham-handed and unnecessary.

Of coarse they should rebuild. There is a much better case for this town than there is for rebuilding towns such as New Orleans or San Fran and Los Angeles. The odds of having another torndao striking this town and destroying it in the same fashion are very remote, while the other three are always at high risk of natural destruction. Greensburg had its luck-of-the-draw moment.

sonicfrog said...

PS. Spell check isn't working, so forgive any booboo's.

Citizen Deux said...

But would the cost to rebuild a 1600 person town, from the ground up - be less or more than simply redistributing the population to neighboring towns?

What would be the impetus of rebuilding? Pratt seems to tbe the largest nearby town.

Some thoughts;

1) Largest town in area
2) Intersection of US 400 and US 183
3) Major rail hub

So then, there seems to be some worth in rebuilding - but how? Underground housing? Who funds this?

BostonMaggie said...

Why is rebuilding this town anyone's decision other than the townspeople? Those with the means (insurance or other) will decide if they want to rebuild or move.

NPR interviewed the head of the Kansas National Guard. Robin Young tried like anything to get him to admit that he was mad that equipment was deployed overseas. No go. He wouldn't.

Citizen Deux said...

Fine, the towns people can make the decision - as long as it's their money. But it isn't.

Maggie, the issue will be whether we rebuild the town with federal funds - those are your dollars and mine. Aside from the frailty of hubris, rebuilding after such total destruction should be given careful consideration.

In my opinion there is an opportunity to review what gets rebuilt, how it gets rebuilt and where it gets rebuilt. I suspect most of those homeowners will be relying on federal aid to reconstruct their homes as insurance deductibles against wind damage are typically 20-30% of home value.

BostonMaggie said...

I still think it's the resident's choice. It seems too "big brother"ish to interfere. I live 400 feet from the Atlantic. It has never flooded here (knock wood) but if it did and someone tried to keep me from rebuilding.....look out!

How much federal money are we talking here and wouldn't it get spent anyway to move/compensate homeowners?

The only thing I'd say is this is the time to look at/update building codes, etc.

BostonMaggie said...

I have to come up with some cool pic to pop up beside my comments. I feel left out.

Citizen Deux said...

How about something incriminating from the MILBLOG conference?

;-)

But to the point. Insurance rates in the state of Florida make rebuilding after a hurricane VERY expensive. Some firms, USAA, are no longer writing policies in areas.

So who should bear the burden? The government does offer flood insurance, but at a COST to the taxpayers. In essence, most of the USA is subsidizing our overdevelopment on the coasts (same goes for earthquakes, etc.).

So what will we do? I predict that many homes are underinsured. The public buildings are not insured at all - only through municipal self insurance.

If the town gets rebuilt, with my money, I would hope someone offers some guidlines for more durable construction - which for that part of the USA would mean underground.

BostonMaggie said...

And underground city? That would be cool!

There are no incriminating photos of me from the Milblog Conference. I wore a traditional Pilgrim outfit (bonnet, long skirt, apron, etc.) and sat in a corner and sipped Earl Grey Tea.

Major John said...

F5 tornado doesn't care what your building code is...

I think the KS governor's quick rowback revealed what a crock the claims about the Guardf were. Well, that and the fact that 90% of them were not utilized or asked for...

Citizen Deux said...

Selebius took on the worst of all political tactics with her ill thought out comments.

Right on about the F5+ tornado. Nature can dish out far more than we can take!

BostonMaggie said...

You have no idea how it pains me, as a woman, to point this out.....

Louisiana - Katrina - Blanco - asshat

Kansas - Tornado - Sebelius - asshat

I know that plenty of people said stupid things during Katrina, but I remember thinking that Blanco just really came off bad and some men were thinking "See, that's why you don't want a woman in that job." I'm not agreeing with that sentiment, I just resent that Blanco made it easy for some to think it.

I know that plenty of people will be clowns in Kansas, but Sebelius, talking smack just sounded hysterical and unleaderlike (is that a word?).

There are only 9 female governors out of 50 states and these two women are undermining females everywhere. I resent that.

Major John - I know jack about tornadoes. Does your comment mean you agree with CD that these areas should not be rebuilt?

P.S. I hate word verification, can't I have a special password?

Citizen Deux said...

I don't know if those two governors should be penalized for being women. They should take a moment to reflect prior to opening their mouths. Few folks realize the authority of the state governor. All actions reside with them in regard to the management and oepration of the state. Even the speed limit is only influenced by the influx of federal funds.

Sebelius made a gross error. What is interesting is how little she is being called on understanding the emergency plan for her own state. A place where tornadoes occur almost daily.

BostonMaggie said...

I am not saying they should be penalized for being women....I am saying they should, by virtue of being women, be more cognizant of how their remarks reflect on other woman holding office or hoping to hold office. I expected better and I am disappointed.

**"What is interesting is how little she is being called on understanding the emergency plan for her own state. A place where tornadoes occur almost daily."**
Interesting? I think "aggravating" better describes my feelings.