Friday, June 12, 2009
IKE, CAT 1?
A Hurricane consultant spoke to my Seabrook Rotary Club about "Tropical Terrorist" Hurricanes, and it made everyone's hair stand on end.
He was the hurricane guy for a major Fortune 500 company (now retired) that had to make calls on shutting down operations that would cost the company $20 million/day --but you had to do it at a certain point or have even greater damage to our nation's critical facilities for making the products like oil and gas be available everyday. That doesn't happen when plants are shut down due to Hurricanes.
He said that IKE was not really a big CAT 2 storm and that serious thought was being given to re-classifying IKE as a CAT 1 storm -- based on wind readings onshore which were much lower. That means that people are thinking they survived a CAT 2 when it was weaker.
Based on the actual damages from IKE that means if we get a REAL CAT 2 or higher we are in serious trouble. Our building codes are not designed for a CAT 3; they didn't fair well in IKE which was either a CAT 2 or a CAT 1.
I heard one person say he overheard a well-known restaurateur, say: "We're safe for another 15 years" before another big storm. If he said that, he is making a serious mistake and needs to listen to Lew Fincher, who cited some eye-popping numbers of major hurricanes storms that have hit Texas in our history. The map is dense with repeated hits along our entire coast.
People have to realize that denial doesn't work. Denial means more property damage and worse. Denial is dumb. The only logical and smart action is preparation. That means building buildings higher and better.
Denial doesn't repeal the Law of Geography: we are as close to the coast this year as we were last year - maybe closer!
Denial doesn't repeal the Law of Nature: Hurricanes are an ANNUAL event. They threaten us six months of every year. Like a game of chance, with the odds are staked against the coastal inhabitants.
A strike one year does not rule out a strike the next. We are a potential target EVERY year. Thinking that we are out of the woods for another decade is playing Russian Roulette with a loaded pistol. That is like thinking that the next tornado is not going to happen when you live in tornado alley.
That means the only sensible action is PREPARATION.
That means we have to be able to Shelter in Place. I know of a family with a disabled son who can't leave the house and lives on the water in Nassau Bay. Right now they have no protection to keep a Hurricane from tossing debris into their windows, which would leads to loss of the roof and structural failure.
Mr. Fincher also mentioned this in his talk -- how one small hole in a window can lead to structural failure. One oil company engineer who had our Armor Glass film installed told me that he calculated one hole in a window could create over 50,000 lbs. of uplift on the roof!
IKE should be a wake up call that we have a long way to go...And we need to upgrade our codes nationally. IKE took out power grids all the way to Ohio...