"A Not So Happy Year"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, December 29, 2018

The end is near and 2018 is leaving many with broken homes and hearts. Last year’s major hurricanes; Harvey, Irma and Maria left such wide paths of destruction that it was believed nothing could be worse.

Pat and I gathered in the Florida Keys with friends in December 2017 where Irma had struck in September. There were smiles on all of our faces as we encountered one another and expressed how grateful we were that we survived.

Those who suffered less damage pitched in to help neighbors in need. People who had experienced total losses located temporary lodging while considering what they could do. Some residents cleared away the debris of their destroyed homes in our campdominion, and were able to bring in new ones to place on the lots. They were thankful they could stay in the same surroundings and expressed it could have been worse.

We traveled around the area and saw cars sunk in the salt water, homes washed into deep canals, stacked atop one another. Piles of debris were everywhere lined along the roadways. A boat storage area had vessels of all sizes thrown off their cradles, lying in total destruction We encountered an odd sight; a very large, multi-mast sailboat had washed a couple of hundred feet ashore and looked totally undamaged. We realized our loss could have been a lot worse and were grateful.

All the people reeling from the terrible events of 2017 were stunned at the horrendous events that took place in 2018. I reviewed ABC’s World News report posted by Emily Shapiro Dec. 8, and learned about the five worst disasters to hit our country this year.

We saw immediately in January what worse could be. Wild fire scarred Montecito, California was hit by torrential rains causing mudslides. The devastation described by homeowner Rob Lowe was, “A perfect storm of bad events.” He later was quoted saying, “It was like Armageddon.”

In May, images of the flash flooding that destroyed historic Ellicott City, Maryland were heart wrenching. More than eight inches of rain fell there in a few hours. The city had not fully recovered from damage caused by flooding in 2016 North Carolina had 36 inches of rain, South Carolina 24 inches, delivered by Hurricane Florence in September. Before they had a chance to begin the clean-up, Hurricane Michael swept through after visiting Florida and Georgia. Michael had devastated Panama City in Florida’s panhandle, an area rarely touched by storms in the past. The nearby small town of Mexico Beach was crushed by the massive category four storm as it charged ashore

When the whole country was certain there could be no worse, in November, California was hit. Wildfires from the Campfire North to the Woolsey South became the deadliest to occur in the state’s history. We all watched with utter disbelief as a small town named Paradise was literally destroyed. We viewed days of heroic rescues by first responders. Sadly, the death toll is still mounting and may never be accurately determined.

website titled, “Floodlist” compiles information about flood events worldwide. A post dated Oct. 8 states: “Floods and major storms are increasingly battering the country and recovery costs are spiraling upwards.”

The article went on to say some experts are calling for a managed retreat to safer areas away from coasts and rivers.

Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Managers, was quoted in the article saying, “despite the rising threats, it remains difficult to discuss the idea of buying properties and moving populations.”

The article noted a citizen who owned three properties in flood ravaged Ellicott City said it’s impossible to see how it would be safe to rebuild over a stream in an area that had two deadly floods in two years.

She expressed a willingness to relocate.

Nancy Shaver, mayor of St. Augustine, Florida admits the prospect of managed retreat is fraught with political pitfalls because residents are reluctant to abandon their homes.

In October, President Trump signed a law allowing some of the national disaster relief funds to be used for pre-disaster projects including home buyouts.

After believing 2017 had delivered the “worst,” we certainly learned what “worse” looked like this past year of 2018.

As I see it, we need to encourage our government to take any and all necessary steps to protect us from Mother Nature’s fury. I sure hope all my readers will enjoy a Happy New Year and dodge any bad events.

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