Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Geo 730: April 8, Day 463: I Am Disappoint

So what should we see, walking back from the tsunami dock to Agate Beach Wayside, where we parked, but Luxurious Condos right down to the beach? The irony is strong with this one. And what is particularly infuriating/terrifying/despair-making is that this development is pretty clearly one that was constructed in the last 20-25 years... that is, since AFTER the potential for a great Cascadia Earthquake and subsequent inundation by tsunami was well-established. One can't help but wonder, of the people who reside or visit here (I don't know whether the above are residential or recreational rentals), how many made the trek to visit the dock during its several-month sojourn at the north end of the beach? I'd bet most or nearly all of them- the dock was well-publicized, and received thousands of visitors per day. How many would one guess understand that these buildings risk exactly that same kind of swamping and demolition at any time? (Granted, the estimated risk for this northern portion of the subduction zone is 12% over the next 50 years.)

On a similar note, geologists had identified the high risks in the neighborhood of the Oso landslide by the late 90's, yet people continued to build and develop there. In the middle of the last decade, hearings were discussed regarding whether to buy out property owners to prevent exactly the kind of tragedy that occurred a couple weeks ago. The general attitude of the residents? No big gummint! Just a bunch of landgrabbers! Keep your filthy mitts off our proppity! As of today, there are 34 identified fatalities, and 12 still missing and unaccounted for. Metaphorically, the dust has still not settled. But already, people are speculating about whether "the government," which they so distrusted previously, can be held responsible via lawsuits (Spoiler: it doesn't look terribly likely).

How will the aftermath in coastal developments like this one look, when there are not just a few dozen dead, and many more lives utterly disrupted, but a hundred or more times those figures? Despite countless calls for better zoning, preparedness, and resiliency planning, I have no doubt that a major theme of news reports afterward will be "Why did no one tell us?"

Photo unmodified. July 10, 2012. FlashEarth location.


Lyle said...

Perhaps it is a Darwinian thing. Since the issues in both cases were well publicized you can't really say that there were not warnings available. I suspect to not know about the coming (we just don't know when) Cascadia earthquake you would have to live under a rock. But since the time it will occur is unknown, one may be a gambler and decide it will happen after you have left the scene and thus be someone elses problem. Its just like building on the coast on the east coast and hurricanes, you do know that a big one will hit, just don't know when, so if you like you can gamble. It is like polls saying that folks did not know about a number of recent deadlines, again living under a rock with no internet access.

Lockwood said...

I agree, to a point. That point is when victims of a disaster which was known to be possible- as in the case of the Oso landslide, a Cascadia quake, or an east/south coast hurricane- expect to have their losses covered and/or compensated. Certainly, the humanitarian in me would want to help those folks get back on their feet. But the pragmatist in me wants to scream, "You need to pay ATTENTION!"