Indian Riverkeeper: Pay attention to Irma
Well gang, I hope everyone is paying attention to Irma. I have been a student and collector of “hurricuns” stuff my whole life. I have more than a thousand pages of stuff about them as they relate to Florida. My family has been in Florida at least 186 years. Some have written it down, I have many first hand accounts. Great Grandma Hattie told of watching the roof lift and blow away from the lumber yard in Lantana in 1928. How it shoved her Dade county pine cracker house off its piers, and the big mango tree crashed onto it. She also told of all the dead people from Okeechobee Lake they buried in a mass grave next to the Pioneer cemetery by the Norton museum.
Grandma’s house is still on Pine Street in Lantana. My GG Grandparents Hannibal and Margretta Pierce are still interred UNDER the steps of the Norton museum. I digress.
The ‘hurricuns” of “my” greatest interest since my family arrived here would be the 1926 and 1928 Okeechobee’s, the 1935 Labor Day, the1906 Miama, the 1960 Donna, and then Andrew. I would point out that the vulnerabilities exposed by all of those hurricanes STILL exist, and would likely be even more costly in terms of lives if the right storm runs over the top of us again.. and sooner or later it WILL.
My greatest concern is Okeechobee Lake and the citizens around it. Would our storm managers be willing to issue the “get away from the lake” order in time?? Where WOULD they go TO ?..Where is the nearest high ground with shelter and infrastructure? Are there currently any plans ready to initiate? Would folks listen and comply.. or would poverty and fear paralyze those in harms way. We are not talking about driving three blocks to the nearest school for shelter (WHICH, in a cat 5 would be of very dubious safety). We are talking a fifty mile relocation for thousands.
If we get a cat four of five across the Lake “I” believe it will breach. It NEARLY breached in Wilma. That hurricane crossed the state at more than 20 MPH, had it been doing 10MPH, IMO, the dike would have failed. Also, remember that Okeechobee Lake went over the edge to the north, as well as the south in 1928.. its just fewer folks were there, and much of the water had already been pushed south first.
As we all KNOW, armoring the Herbert Hoover dike is WAY more expensive than any elected government is currently willing to fund, and there is still the issue of six times more water can get in than can get out. (Had hurricane Harvey camped on US in South Florida with NO wind but dropped 10 feet of water would the levee still be intact?) So USACOE does the best they can as funding and POLITICAL WILL allows. And then Pray natures fury doesn’t return to take more innocent lives.
Given the lack of funding, the reduced staffing, and the firing of so many SENIOR scientists, engineers, and operators of the SFWMD by our Governor, I wonder how they will function. Who is left that has operated the system during a hurricane emergency.. Sure.. do it by the book.. until something NOT in the book happens.. then all you have experience.. which the Governor has deliberately let go.
Armoring the COMMUNITIES
I have for more than a decade been a proponent of armoring the COMMUNITIES around the lake. Create a SAFE space to go LOCALLY so if the worse happens..(something like what COULD happen in a week or so,) safety is near.. We need safeplaces located close bye, in a community atmosphere that is familiar, and more likely to be used. (I’m telling you from experience.. I have been too poor to evacuate ANY distance more than once, I KNOW the fear and helplessness.) Mark my words, people will NOT leave because they CANT from poverty or fear.. EVERY hurricane there are folks who don’t leave in time.. remember Chrystal Beach and Ike, the 9th Ward, and Mobile Bay in Katrina.
It is nearly impossible to construct a dike around Okeechobee Lake that will GUARANTEE that that those on the outside will be safe in a slow moving cat five. The water is relentless and will REFUSE to be contained. And the dangers are twofold. One is hydro-static head pressure. Water gets to the top. Its pressure blows out the muck under the dike, or it overtops due to wind surge and volume. Either way, the resulting breach will widen quickly allowing billions and billions of gallons rushing through in a great wall like 1928 washing away structures and all living things.
The armoring of the Communities does NOT have to resist the onslaught of pounding water driven at 160 miles an hour, it only has to let the water flow past into the EAA, WCA’s and Everglades to then south IF the dike is breached. As it spreads, the velocity will lessen.
There is no silver bullet here for the lake.. but we CAN save ALL those lives around the lake from a breach IF we armor some communities LOCAL to the need.
Just once, i would like to hear some public discussion about this. Most interesting (and prolly sad) will be witnessing who comes down on which side of this… Think this through.. for a FRACTION of the cost of armoring the entire lake, everyone has a safe place to go they can virtually walk too.
ALL I WANT, is our fellow citizens around the lake to not be expendable any more.
I follow hurricanes..have a folder for Harvey still in progress. I think Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground, and Levi Cohen at Tropical Tidbits as a couple of VERY good forecasters and teachers.
Here is a link to Tropical Tidbits, I recommend the video and expect an update soon; https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/
About Marty Baum the Indian Riverkeeper
Marty Baum is the Indian Riverkeeper. Marty is deeply connected to Indian River Lagoon with family ties back to 1866. The estimated annual economic value of the Indian River Lagoon is $3,725,900,000. ” Everyone along Indian River Lagoon is directly dependent upon the health and vigor of the ecosystem. We must demand clean water. Essentially, everything about our way of life here is enhanced and given greater value due to the influence of the Indian River Lagoon.”