Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Why live where hurricanes and tornados can wipe out your house?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26834points) August 30th, 2010

Isn’t living in an earthquake zone better than living in an area subject to hurricanes, and tornados? You can’t predict earthquakes but usually you don’t see any big ones less once every 20 years or more and the technology to fortify structures against them has become very good. Survival rates at least here in the US is very, very great. Tornadoes and hurricanes you have to deal with every year, worse with tornados because you can’t predict where they will go or what structure they will hit. Both hurricanes and tornados can take your home and do much more damage than most earthquakes. Why subject your home yearly to possible destruction living where tornados and hurricanes can threaten you?

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33 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

yeaaa never got the people who live in tornado alley. Like “ohhh nooo my house was destroyed by a tornado” hmmmmmmmmm wonder why?

Aethelwine's avatar

There was a tornado in Salt Lake City a few years back. Think they expected that one?! Shit happens everywhere! We can’t live in fear.

lillycoyote's avatar

Let’s see. Let’s look at the gulf coast, a favorite of hurricanes. People live there because it is an area that is absolutely essential, absolutely crucial to the U.S. and the U.S. economy for a number of reason. Do you have any idea how much stuff gets shipped in and out of the ports on the Gulf Coast? That’s just one reason. There are a lot more.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I have high hopes of moving to tornado alley someday, true story.
Are you proposing that everyone on the gulf and in the midwest move to California? It’s true that you can not predict a tornado in the same respect as a hurricane, but they do follow a path (often repeatedly), and those of us that have lived in an area with high exposure have learned over the years what conditions to watch for. Of course tornadoes can be utterly devastating, but the majority are too small to really tear your whole house down like you see in the movies or the major tornadoes that make the news. Those storms are relatively rare compared to the little twisters that we get annually in this area.

Aethelwine's avatar

This is interesting

Fire, blizzards, shipwrecks, floods, earthquakes, heat waves…’re not safe anywhere.

@TheOnlyNeffie Move here. It’s ok. You can go to a basement. A basement won’t protect you during an earthquake.

shego's avatar

@jonsblond I was going to say the same thing about Salt Lake ( great minds think alike)
There are hundreds of tornados that you never hear about the happen out in Cali, and where I live, the east coast, everywhere even lakes. My family lives on the boarder of tornado ally in Co, and we know and understand the risks associated with living here.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@jonsblond where is “here?”

I live in Ohio right now, have all my life, and I have done my fair share of storm chasing over the years. We get quite a bit of tornadic activity every year… but I wouldn’t complain about a little more. Who knows… maybe someday people like me that relish in the erratic weather over the summer will be the ones to find a better way to predict a tornado and save lives. I can dream, right?

perspicacious's avatar

It’s some people’s choice. Every area has the possibility of some king of natural disaster.

Aethelwine's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie I’m in central Illinois. Our house was hit by an F1 in 1999. We only lost a few shingles and windows. I’d love to storm chase. Sounds fun!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@jonsblond my favorite story to tell people is that my very first memory is watching an F5 tornado with my parents. I have been obsessed with storms ever since. My dad is an avid storm watcher, also, so he made it really easy to fall into that. We are very fortunate to never have experienced a direct hit, but plenty of close calls. I just can’t imagine living somewhere that doesn’t have tornado season. It’s a perk, for me. :)

Aethelwine's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie We’re moving to the sticks in a few weeks. One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is watching the storm fronts moving in. Our front windows face west. I can’t wait!

Austinlad's avatar

I love the old saying that if we all threw our troubles into one big pot and then reached in, we’d pull out our own. I think this applies to your question. I’ve often wondered why people would be so nuts to live in an earthquake or hurricane zone, yet I live and work within a fairly short geographic corridor known as “Tornado/Hail Alley.” We get highly destructive storms almost every spring. Last year, there was one that totaled my car at work and significantly damaged my roof 10 mile—same hail storm 10 miles apart. I guess you live where you live.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I live on an island on the west coast of Florida. I rent the place I live in. I own a house across the bridge on the mainland and rent it out. I would never own a home out here. The highest elevation is 12 feet. We haven’t had a direct hit since 1848, but we’ve had some violent near-misses. It’s crowded, the developers since the 1950s have mostly paved the place over as they have most of Florida. It’s not the same place it was when I was growing up. The fishing isn’t what it used to be. You have to go to the east coast to find good surfing, but it has a nice beach and the sailing is good except during the summer doldrums. I stay here mostly because I have two generations of family here and I am well-known and liked within my profession.

My favorite place in the US is on the coast about 55 miles north of San Francisco. Redwoods, temperate climate (most of the time), 200 foot cliffs that lead straight down to an isolated, rocky, violent pacific shoreline, an hour from one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world. There, I’ve experienced violent storms, floods, landslides, hurricane force winds and earthquakes.

My favorite place offshore is a lightly populated tropical island in the eastern caribbean that has no poisonous spiders or snakes, 365 rivers, artesian pools and hot lakes, tropical hardwood jungle, good fishing, good surfing, good diving, good sailing, good kayaking and nice people. It is small, only 15 miles wide and 35 miles long It has flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. Elevations on this speck of green in the Caribbean go from sea level to nearly a mile high in the interior mountains. On the west side, they have nice sandy beaches, on the east side they have beautiful high cliffs reaching down to a rough sea like that north of San Francisco. It has the last of the aboriginal Carib Indians living in the interior. It is a stable democratic republic with English as it’s primary language. The Atlantic breeze blows of the tropical humidity and temperature rarely exceed 86F or go below 60F. But it also is volcanic, has frequent earthquakes and is directly in the Caribbean hurricane path coming off Africa. They have been hit many, many times although their are protected by the mountains in the interior. It’s a trade-off.

I know of no place worth living that isn’t regularly disturbed by some natural event.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jonsblond*Shit happens everywhere! We can’t live in fear.* I don’t think fear or bravery plays any part, bravery won’t keep a tornado or hurricane away and fear won’t bring it, it will strike where it will and hopefully if your home is there it will still be livable when it is over.

Fire, blizzards, shipwrecks, floods, earthquakes, heat waves…’re not safe anywhere. Fire, preventable, the worse you can be is if you are in an attached dwelling and someone next to you catches fire and there is no sprinkler system. Even if you are in the hills if you have the right defensible around your home the fire won’t affect you. Shipwreck? Not if you are not on a boat and it won’t threaten my home anyhow. Not if you don’t life in a flood plain or near a creek or river. Heatwave, very easy to manage, go to the movies, shopping, river, ocean, take a cold shower, tons of stuff, then again the home is not at risk. Those are still nothing like 100+ mph winds tossing Mack trucks into your house like bingo balls in the plastic bubble.

@TheOnlyNeffie*Are you proposing that everyone on the gulf and in the midwest move to California?* Heavens no, but they might think about placing their homes under ground or in-earth, maybe cement igloos with blast shields over the windows and doors to make their home survive –if they are going to live there.

jazmina88's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Move to California? isnt it going to fall in the ocean during the big earthquake??

Where can you escape Mother nature?? Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, snow….heat waves. In a bio-dome.

@Hypocrisy Central heat wave…...??? homeless folk dont go to movies…they swelter in the heat. They dont get too many cold showers either. Or old people that have no AC.

Life happens. tragedy occurs since before Shakespeare.

Frenchfry's avatar

I finding storms exciting. I love living in Florida. Tracking the hurricanes. I am doing it right NOW.We got some hurricanes out there.. I love getting all prepared, boarding your windows. Firing up the generator, Getting propane. making your hurricane kit, Yes I have survived some dooseys. Lately it’s been mild. That’s just me. I have lived in California not my thing,earthquakes and all.

rooeytoo's avatar

Here it is cyclones we worry about. But this is where the work is and the heavenly climate (most of the time) and fishing and boating and everything outdoors. No heating bills to pay, although air con can be expensive if you use it too much but if your house is designed properly the sea breezes keep it cool. I love it. However when cyclone season rolls around it can be pretty scary. So far I have only been through one and it was terrifying but we made it through okay!

Mom2BDec2010's avatar

Just like mostly everyone else said, natural disasters happen everywhere. I live where hurricanes always come and go. The last major hurricane we had was Katrina and that was a few years ago, we haven’t really had to deal with another major hurricane since then.

BoBo1946's avatar

you can see a hurricane or tornado coming…..earthquakes are sneaky. I’ll take the hurricanes and tornadoes over earthquakes.

I was in San Jose, Ca in 1989 working the earthquake that hit that area and my room was on the fifth floor of the Radision in San Jose. I was on the phone talking to an agent and they had a 5.5 earthquake. Oh my gosh….I’ll take the tornadoes and hurricanes.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s quite simple living in a tornado alley….just don’t live in a freakin trailer home and you are quite safe. I have lived in one my whole life and we get one or two every year and tornadoes seem to only hit trailer homes and they make quite spectacular messes too! Like toothpick pinatas!

MissAusten's avatar

I lived in Indiana until I graduated from college, and never once saw a tornado. We had tornado warnings or a tornado watch pretty often, and once in a while would hear of one that touched down someplace. It really wasn’t that big of a deal.

This summer there were a couple of tornadoes here in Connecticut, which is not very common from what I understand. It’s possible for a hurricane to make it this far north, but that’s pretty rare too. At least you know when a tornado or hurricane is coming.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I would think a very large earthquake has the potential to kill more people than a tornado or hurricane. And like @MissAusten just said, at least with a hurricane or tornado you usually have warning and time to prepare. You have no warning with an earthquake. I never understood why people would build those homes on stilts in California on a major fault line. Now that is crazy.

janbb's avatar

Generally. you live where you live because that’s where you can make a living. There are possibilities for disaster everywhere. You makes your money and you takes your choice. Reminds me of the chorus of a song I love:

“We’re in high water and we can’t float.
If you could Lord – send a boat.”

tinyfaery's avatar

I agree that shit happens everywhere. However, don’t think that earthquakes are not as terrifying and destructive as other natural disasters. One day the “big one” will happen. When the earth is shaking there is nowhere to hide and no way to seek guaranteed protection like a basement or high ground. Every time a quake happens everyone in the area immediately thinks that it’s the “big one”. I cannot even describe how scary that is.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@tinyfaery I have only experienced two “earthquakes” (if you can even call them that) in my lifetime. I was just having a conversation with my sister the other day about how earthquakes seem so much more frightening to me than a tornado or a hurricane. You know when a storm is coming, it doesn’t just drop out of the sky without warning. The weather conditions give you a heads up that something bad might happen… sometimes you even get a literal warning from the NWS.
An earthquake, though? You have no idea when they are coming or how intense they are going to be. And where do you really go? In a tornado you can go underground to protect yourself, you have a fighting chance in even the worst storm. But when it’s the ground itself that is is rebelling, what can you really do?

I don’t know. I’ve always found that to be even more terrifying.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@BoBo1946 I was in San Jose, Ca in 1989 working the earthquake that hit that area and my room was on the fifth floor of the Radision in San Jose. Yes I am up above Oakland and that is part of my point, as scary as earthquakes are to people there has not been one like that since then. That was 21 years ago if I have it right. All this time no worries about major earthquakes and I suspect if I stayed in this area I won’t see another in my lifetime.

@jonsblond I would think a very large earthquake has the potential to kill more people than a tornado or hurricane. Maybe in China, Haiti, India, etc. The seismic technology in most building here you have to have a really BIG earthquake, like Loma Prieta or similar. It still did not kill as many as Katrina and people seen Katrina coming. There were area of old construction which failed like the Cypress structure or that section of the Bay Bridge, but because of that everything is safer today should another earthquake like that ever hit.

Take a big hit once every 20 years or hemorrhage deaths a little each year do to tornadoes and hurricanes? And even if you survive a hurricane it has to be a drag rebuilding your house and replacing everything several times a decade.

@TheOnlyNeffie But when it’s the ground itself that is is rebelling, what can you really do? Most structures are made to “roll with the punches” but if you think it won’t and you get to open space away from anything that could fall, you are pretty safe. Then you don’t have to worry about it for another 20–30 years or so. Not wonder every time golf boll hail falls that some big win will scatter your home like puzzle pieces from an over turned table.

Fred931's avatar

Concerning hurricane-prone areas:
Because it’s purty, purty, and purty, and because our last house took a cat-4 punch in the eye and only lost a few shingles.

The most definite reason Katrina destroyed a heckuva lot more homes than did Ivan was because people in New Orleans and neighboring areas live a few feet underground and the ancient levy’s that kept the water out, broke. We Fairhope-Alabamians live on a bluff, so storm surge isn’t a problem, and most modern homes here couldn’t care less about 150+MPH winds.

Aethelwine's avatar

The buildings in the New Madrid Seismic Zone were not made to withstand a large earthquake. Neither were the buildings in New York where there is another fault line. These areas can see massive damage and death when “the big one” hits. I think I need to worry more about the New Madrid than I do a tornado where I live.

Having lived in Illinois for 20 years, I can tell you I’ve seen one tornado. The one that did damage to our house. Most tornadoes hit open fields and do little damage. The tornadoes that do hit homes and buildings are usually a once in a lifetime event. Very rarely do you see a large tornado hit the same place twice.

just sayin ;)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@jonsblond actually, it depends. Once the conditions are ideal for formation and the funnel cloud has dropped, tornadoes tend to follow the path of least resistance, so to speak. Coincidentally, the one I mentioned in my post above (the F5) was the 3rd tornado in the last century to follow an almost identical path as the two before. So the lay of the land does have some say in where the twister will travel. Which is why I assume in many cases they do end up striking in fields and on open land, like you said.

@Hypocrisy_Central I have seen a handful of tornadoes in my lifetime, 3 of which have nothing to do with my interest in seeking them out. Not including the first one, the majority of these tornadoes did little or no damage. Usually they are pretty weak, and not the miles wide monsters that you see in movies, and they often dissipate after they hit a structure. I have lived in a tornado prone area all my life, and this house has been standing for 100 years. I’m not so worried that I feel the need to move or retreat underground for the rest of my life. It is much like everyone else said, you can’t avoid natural disasters anywhere. Most of the people I know don’t start to panic every time there is a thunderstorm or hail on a particularly warm day. We just keep our eyes open and listen for the sirens. We have tornado drills in schools and are raised with tornado safety procedures. I guess that takes some of the horror out of it.

Seaofclouds's avatar

We live in tornado alley because that’s where the Army wants us. We won’t be staying here longer than we have to, but that’s not because it’s tornado alley, we just don’t really like the idea of staying longer than necessary. (It’s okay, just not the place for us.)

When I lived in Delaware, we really didn’t worry about anything. In the 27 years I lived there, there was 1 tornado and 1 earthquake. Both were very minor and completely unexpected. During hurricane season, the worst we every got was a severe thunderstorm with high winds.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

There is ups and downs to go along with anywhere you live.

iamthemob's avatar

I think the most simple answer is because that’s your home. You return to rebuild your community. Places have a history…whether it’s personal ro general…that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. I lived in New Orleans both before and after Katrina, and the community that returned to the city was an amazing experience.

You accept the things that may be incomprehensible to others about the things that you love.

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