More on Hurricanes and devastation

Wilma glanced off the northern Bahamas and took us all by surprise by her intensity. We were fine in Nassau, except that my internet has been knocked out and we lost electricity in our area for 8 hours yesterday.

The northern islands of Bimini, the Berry Islands chain and Grand Bahama were knocked for a loop, though.

I haven’t heard what happened in Bimini, which resembles the Keys in being surrounded by water and fairly low-lying, or in the Berries, which are similar. Grand Bahama was battered silly by storm surge, as the eye was huge. We’ve heard about twenty feet or more of water. The southern side of the island, which is flatter, was inundated, and some cases communities have been devastated by the floods. They subsided as the eye passed, however.

The thing about Grand Bahama is that for a long time national building codes were waived there, and communities were built according to US building codes, which are more lax. The result was that Grand Bahamian damage in hurricanes has been far greater than it is in other places that suffer direct hits.

The other thing is our “modern” habit of building houses flush with the ground. Traditional building designs never did that; houses were always built on foundations raised several feet. We have no basements, unless we build on the tops of hills.

Now we are reminded why.


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