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Monday, October 26, 2015

Disaster makeover



Mexico just had about the luckiest break from a bad situation. Hurricane Patricia missed heavily populated areas and then broke up in the mountains. That doesn't diminish the pain of those who were in its path, but things could have been much much worse.

Whenever a major disaster strikes the area is never quite the same again. In the United States we are used to thinking that everything just gets rebuilt. It doesn't. Take New Orleans after Katrina. Today you can go into the heart of the French District and see little sign of the disaster. Go out in the old poorer neighborhoods and it's a different story. Many people never came back. A lot of stuff never got rebuilt.

When the heart of a community is ripped out, it can't just be rebuilt. There are a lot of businesses that do fine before disasters that are not economical to rebuild after. A lot of things are built are built up over that time that can't quickly be replaced. There's also the whole community web that's disrupted: churches, community centers, parks and shops. People move on and don't go back to doing things the old way. When the social and economic pillars of a community are shaken they are never put back together the same way.

For some community destruction is just the break they were looking for. Working waterfronts that provide decent blue collar jobs are replaced by condo developments for the well to do. All those poor folks who paid little taxes on humble homes are replaced by high rollers. Money trumps everything. That's great for developers and politicians with open palms. Not so good for people looking for an affordable place to live.

If it's this bad in rich countries, it's much worse in less well off ones.

-Sixbears


6 comments:

  1. So true, Sixbears. After Hurricane Ike, our nearest beach at Galveston was torn up pretty bad. The ladies in my annual Beach Broads weekend getaway group were forced to spend much more on a house several years later because all the houses had been rebuilt and were now new. And a dive restaurant/bar we used to go to every year was gone. Rebuilt in a new location, but not quite the same. Now more upscale, and just not right... Good for all the locals maybe, but not us. New part of the Galveston beach area for us this year, but a resort setting, not a beach house. Bummer ...

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    1. I've seen Galveston before and a few years after the storm. Not the same place. Totally different vibe.

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  2. Big earthquake in Afghanistan, too. Those poor people now will be even poorer.

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    1. They can't seem to catch a break, can they?

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  3. Spot on with that last paragraph. That is exactly what happened after Katrina. The area that the poor black folks lived in was immediately targeted for gentrification. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the ones pushing for it fell to their knees praying that the hurricane would devastate the area.

    A lot of those folks will never be able to come back home, can't afford it.

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    Replies
    1. Sad but true. "Gentrification" often destroys communities more completely than the disaster ever did.

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