Home > Pet Peeves > Hail and High Water

Hail and High Water

Once more, Colorado is in God’s cross-hairs, despite all the evangelical groups that are headquartered there.  Or maybe because of them.  Quite the sense of humor, that God guy, really.  First, major fires that take out hundreds of homes – fires, of course, caused by years of drought.  which are now ended, maybe, with massive flooding, which is taking out thousands of homes.  To add to the fun, some portions of the front range got a hail storm yesterday that required people to get out their snow shovels.

A friend of mine wants to blame this all on global warming because, you know, everything bad is caused by global warming, while everything else is just weather.  This all is actually nothing new for Colorado.  Back in the sixties, Robert Heinlein – just before he moved to California – stated, “we just finished seven years of drought with seven inches of rain in two hours, and one was about as disastrous as the other.”  In his case, though, he only left Colorado because 1) his wife had developed long-term altitude sickness and 2) NORAD has parked the primary nuclear target right outside his front window.

Most of the damage seems to be caused by that old urge of humanity to build where they shouldn’t.  (“Dad, why does our mountain have a flat top?”  “Shut up and keep picking grapes!”)  As Colorado grew – actually, as California shrank – people started building wonderful houses further and further up the wooded slopes, while others started building cheaper houses closer and closer to the creeks.  Well, trees burn and creeks flood – thus endeth the lesson.

I suppose the logical thing would be to build out to the east, onto the plains, but admittedly farther from the water sources and less interesting from an esthetic standpoint.  A bit dusty, too.  But that is not going to happen anyways; FEMA and the insurance companies will help these people rebuild in place.  They will add requirements that no tree be within so many feet of the house and roof shakes be made of particular materials and that will hold everyone until the next disaster and they will invent still more rules.

Don’t see a good end to this, but it would be nice if they came up with some market-oriented solution, where people paid for their mistakes, where your inability to get insurance would tell you something, and taxpayers did not bail out stupidity.  Won’t happen.  Meanwhile, you can probably buy a good house for cheap, right now – if you are willing to take the risk.


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