The ways of Mother Nature

Time is the greatest asset against all weather. Call it is timely warning, timely precaution or timely exit.

by Victor Cherubim     

( September 11, 2017, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Hurricane Imra in the Caribbean with winds up to 185 miles per hour and torrential rain has caused havoc with damage estimated at $250 billion in South Florida peninsula alone, in a matter of hours.

Two weeks ago Tropical storm “Harvey” which devastated southern Texas, is estimated at $180 billion.

One thing is certain, Mother Nature is democratic. The destruction will affect both rich and poor. But the vulnerability to storms and floods is horrendous for the poor. The rich boarded their homes and drove out in their limousines days in advance of Irma, to hotels and places of shelter. The poor, many who could not get across to the provided shelter by the Florida State Government in time, had to brace themselves to the wiles of the weather.

What are hurricanes? 

The word “hurricane” is a spiraling tropical storm, capable of monster destruction. The word derives from the Mayan deity of wind and fate, Huracan.  Legend states that centuries ago there was the “Great Flood” after humans had angered the Gods. It is also the indigenous word for evil spirits.

Hurricanes in the Caribbean most have a season every year from mid-August to late October. In Sri Lanka we call these storms as cyclones in the Indian Ocean and as typhoons in the Western Pacific Ocean.

They draw heat from the warm, moist ocean air and release it through condensation of water vapour in thunderstorms. They are said to pick wind speeds of up to 160 miles an hour and unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day.  The tremendous power of a hurricane can turn a home inside out and leave it in ruins.

In 2004 Hurricane “Ivan” caused damage estimated at $6 billion across 10 countries in the Caribbean. The island of Grenada was among the worst hit claiming 39 lives with a population of 100,000 with $800 million damage.

The best defense against hurricanes 

Someone must pay for the damage. Yet it is to these hurricane hit islands that many of the so called “weary” travelers, workers and millionaires alike of Europe and North America come in planeloads to soak up the sun and the sugar sandy beaches for their holidays.

Given the constraints on travelers’ times, cheque books and children’s holiday time, few options are as ideal as a quick jaunt to the Caribbean or to the tropics. More so the variety among the islands, means there is a destination for every holiday traveler.

The unpredictability of the hurricane season also means there are great holiday price deals on travel to these destinations during the hurricane season.

The best defense against hurricanes or even cyclones is an accurate forecast of the weather that gives both the locals and the tourist’s time to get out of its way. But as everyone knows, long range forecasting does not exist everywhere.

Thus the best we can expect is to minimize the potential for damage, by insurance and for the large majority of locals by added protection to their homes, to cut the cost of their home insurance and save on repairs later.

Insurance against hurricanes 

If there is storm damage you can and must cover by insurance. But if a flood swamps your home, your insurance will only cover the damage depending on the value of your home, the amount of water damage and whether you have a flood or hurricane policy.

The best insurance against hurricane impact is installing protection of your home and contents. Whilst there is little a home owner, a resident, a tourist can do to prepare for a hurricane, a 20 ft. storm surge on a coast, or inland, sand filled bags remain the least expensive.

It is always best to be on standby for weather calamities, flood barriers, sand bag banks, boarding shutters, corrugated sheets, shuttered windows and doors bolted over windows and doors, to protect the home from flying debris. When tracks are installed permanently around the house, the shutters can be attached quickly and early.

Time is the greatest asset against all weather. Call it is timely warning, timely precaution or timely exit.

The disadvantage of hurricane insurance has been that there is always a high Excess Liability which in the U.S. is called “deductible”. For instance for flood damage on a $300,000 home, the first $6,000 is generally deductible. In today’s world many people

may hardly have immediate access to this sum. Further, if you wait for government assistance, whether in U.S, or in Sri Lanka, the bureaucracy in administration, is estimated, can often take months, if not years to replace these most essentials.

Hurricane and Climate Change   

International Monetary Fund has estimated on current trends of climate change, there can be as much as 77%as storm cost to the Caribbean by year 2100.

Discounting the debate over whether global warming causes more storms, Scientists now agree that future warming would make storms stronger and wetter.

Has anyone calculated the storm cost of another tsunami in Sri Lanka by the end of this century?

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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