Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 18, 2005
KATRINA: On The Beach

Instapundit carries a debate on the wisdom of building vulnerable buildings on beachfronts in the aftermath of the hurricane, centering on this blog post from a series at Popular Mechanics on the aftermath of Katrina:

Biloxi ought to be Exhibit A in any discussion of whether current coastal development regulations make sense. The beachfront properties were devastated, but only a few hundred yards inland, damage was moderate. Maybe there's a lesson there for developers? Apparently not. Compared to New Orleans, where whole neighborhoods remain deserted, Biloxi is crawling with construction teams. Most of them are busy rebuilding hotels right at the water’s edge.

I disagree. It's in the nature of beachfront properties to be second homes, hotels, resorts . . . buildings that are owned by for-profit companies, investors, and wealthy individuals, not someone's only home. These are the property owners most able to bear financial risk in return for the many pleasures and financial benefits of owning beachfront properties, and most able either to self-insure or to purchase specialized insurance from large and sophisticated insurers and reinsurers. In short, they're the very opposite of the hand-to-mouth denizens of the poorer wards of New Orleans, whose losses were personally devastating and whose care had to be taken up by the state in the aftermath of a disaster.

By all means, let's have a debate about putting urban slums back in harm's way. But if investors in beachfront hotels want to gamble on how many seasons it will be before the next Category 4-5 hurricane in the Gulf, let them. It's their money.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:11 AM | Hurricane Katrina | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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