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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: No political blood in the water (88 comments)

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  •  ny times (28+ / 0-)
    The Web site for the City of Moore, Okla., recommends “that every residence have a storm safe room or an underground cellar.” It says below-ground shelters are the best protection against tornadoes.

    But no local ordinance or building code requires such shelters, either in houses, schools or businesses, and only about 10 percent of homes in Moore have them.

    Nor does the rest of Oklahoma, one of the states in the storm belt called Tornado Alley, require them — despite the annual onslaught of deadly and destructive twisters like the one on Monday, which killed at least 24 people, injured hundreds and eliminated entire neighborhoods.

    It is a familiar story, as well, in places like Joplin, Mo., and across the Great Plains and in the Deep South, where tornadoes are a seasonal threat but government regulation rankles.

    Rankles? Rankles?? How many school children have do needlessly lose their lives over something that 'rankles'?

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:44:05 AM PDT

    •  Florida's building codes saw huge changes... (12+ / 0-) weather hardening after Andrew.

      I somehow doubt Oklahoma will do the same thing.

      •  the quote is (18+ / 0-)
        Mike Gilles, a former president of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, said that he built safe rooms in all his custom homes, and that even many builders who build speculatively now make them standard.

        But asked whether the government should require safe rooms in homes, he said, “Most homebuilders would be against that because we think the market ought to drive what people are putting in the houses, not the government.”

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:48:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Brilliant! (7+ / 0-)

          Don't tread on him or his bidness.

          "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes

          Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

          by OleHippieChick on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:14:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  1% get shelters; 99% get blown away. nt (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob, METAL TREK, vcmvo2, gffish

          Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

          by Terrapin on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:58:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  FEMA gives grants for storm shelters (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Amber6541, SoCalSal

          The two schools in Moore which didn't have safe rooms did not have fatalities.

          Generally, homeowners or government bodies such as school districts put up 25 percent of the costs, and the federal government pitches in the rest. After the 1999 tornadoes, federal money paid for nearly 10,000 new safe rooms across Oklahoma, mostly for private homeowners.

          But the money dries up over time, and there are usually far more applicants than available grants. Federal funding to guard against future disasters is distributed based on the cost of the prior disaster, meaning the money eventually runs out if there haven't been major disasters in an area in recent years.

          One of the few states to require storm shelters in schools?

          Alabama is one of the only states that requires new schools to be built with FEMA-approved safe rooms. After a tornado in 2007 killed eight students at the state's Enterprise High School, the legislature passed a requirement that new schools provide safe areas for students.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:20:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oklahoma is the recipient of millions of $$ (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            each year from oil companies like Devon and Chesapeake, and I'm not talking about tax money.  They contribute money to community groups and projects, upgrades in infrastructure (particularly in areas near or adjacent to their operations) and statewide collaborative enterprises.

            Considering oil companies are contributors to climate change and therefore storm severity, someone in the "get government off our backs" groups should hit them up for money for community safe rooms - particularly in schools.

            With sixteen minutes or less to get to a shelter, people in OK should really have such a room in their own homes; relying on "the market" to determine who lives and dies leaves out enormous numbers of people who can't afford one or who rent.  I guess the state has determined their freedom from government regulation is more important than the lives of "those" people.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Wed May 22, 2013 at 10:32:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  He's Right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Dead people won't drive the market.

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

          by TerryDarc on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:48:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  yeah (0+ / 0-)

        how long was it after Andrew was it the GOP weakened those regulations because it made houses more exsensive to build?

      •  More. (9+ / 0-)

        "Hurricane Andrew was a big wake-up call," said Bob Keating, community development director for Indian River County. "The changes over the past 20 years have been enormous."

        After the category five storm gutted Homestead and Florida City, the Florida Legislature brought together a panel chaired by former Florida Senate President Philip D. Lewis to study how the state could prepare for another hurricane.

        Among the Lewis Committee's recommendations, said Keating, were a statewide building code and tougher inspections to prevent the kind of shoddy construction that came to pieces in Andrew's winds.

        "The drive-by inspections that came to light after Hurricane Andrew were an indication that it's not just the code that's important, it's making sure the code is enforced," he said.

        John Gonzales, Port St. Lucie's deputy director of public works during Andrew and a current Federal Emergency Management Agency employee, led a team of recovery workers into Miami after the storm hit and saw the result of those lax standards scattered all over the city streets.

        "Most of the homes in Cutler Ridge had barrel tile roofs," he said. "They were supposed to be nailed down — and they weren't cemented, or nailed down or anything. They were just placed up there. And they became missiles."

        The state adopted the Florida Building Code as its first statewide code in 2002, said Keating, requiring new structures be built to withstand hurricane force winds and have shutters or impact-resistant glass to protect openings.

        The effects of building regulations put into place since Andrew, officials said, were visible when hurricanes Frances and Jeanne struck the Treasure Coast in 2004.

        "Experience has shown that those code changes really made a difference," Keating said. "The newer construction fared much better, and that was the case with the 2004 hurricanes."

        In code amendments in 2010, he said, the state increased the wind speed that buildings need to be designed for — in some areas from 140 mph to 160 mph, and in others from 120 mph or 130 mph to 150 mph.

        "Tougher standards went into effect with the Florida Building Code in 2002," he said, "and it's been consistently more rigorous over the past 20 years."
      •  Some people learn from experience . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stude Dude, trumpeter

        Some people refuse to!  They are too smart to learn.  "Fool me once, shame on you.  Ain't gonna get fooled again.  I'll just  vote for another Bush."

        People in Oklahoma should be demanding some changes, but most won't.  They don't believe in science and engineering, unfortunately.

        "Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" Will Rogers offering advice to the Republican Party.

        by NM Ray on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:45:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  We have 2000 public schools in Oklahoma. (11+ / 0-)

      We have a school system that pays its teachers almost dead last in the nation. Most don't even have daily supplies and paper.

      The high school I graduated from serves 1000, plus 100 or so teachers and admin. Tulsa has about seven or eight high schools just like it.

      I have lived 62 years in Tulsa and have yet to see a school building hit by a tornado.

      I know there's a lot of talk about this. But, realistically, I don't see Oklahoma spending more on their schools, but less. There might be local initiatives to build dozens of big tornado hardened shelters that could protect hundreds of people each.

      I don't see it happening. In fact, I'd rather see that $Billion actually improving the education system in this state.

      "You can never sink so low in life that you can't be a bad example for somebody." - my dad

      by briefer on Wed May 22, 2013 at 04:54:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The huge issue is retrofitting existing buildings (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skohayes, wonmug, SoCalSal

      As we've found with the Americans with Disabilities Act -- it's much easier (though not politically simple) to require new construction (or substantial remodels) to upgrade. Requiring homeowners and public buildings (and private businesses like that 7-11) to immediately invest huge amounts in retrofitting buildings is a very different order of magnitude. (In New England, old houses are very difficult to make barrier-free.) Even putting power lines underground in existing built-up areas, as some have proposed to reduce power outages in blizzards and hurricanes, is extremely expensive and disruptive.

      Frankly, if we were inclined to do this, requiring retrofits for extreme energy efficiency (to try to coax that CO2 level down) would be much higher on my list than trying to protect every building against every possible natural disaster. There has been hurricane/flooding damage in places that were not on anyone's list of high-risk areas (Vermont????). The same is true to some extent of tornado damage (Western Mass.?). With climate change, those occurrences are likely to increase. We maybe need to pay less attention to protecting buildings, and more attention to building community resilience to enable people to survive and rebuild their lives.

      •  The people who originally built downtown (0+ / 0-)

        Oklahoma City were much smarter than the people now in charge.  There is a network of tunnels that connect many of the  downtown buildings and hotels.  They serve to allow people to walk from one building to another to stay out of the weather, and they also act as a tornado shelter for people who work in downtown buildings.  Over the years restaurants and shops have been built in the tunnels, and they serve as exhibit space for artwork.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:23:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  So now the GOP (5+ / 0-)

      will blame Obama because of the FEMA bureaucratic delay that OK is claiming caused them to give up their bid for money for safe rooms.

      Only the GOP hates FEMA and wishes it would die.  And the GOP doesn't understand the role of government in spurring things like safety by (horrors!) spending.

      The GOP doesn't understand the role of government at all.

      But they will go after the President, claiming that government didn't do something that they don't support in the first place.

      Frankly I can't even fathom where republicans come from anymore.  I mean, while I read all this shit about "libtards" and all that, I just don't see anything the democratic establishment (not remotely liberal anyway) doing anything close to this baldfaced hypocrisy in the name of taking down a president they hate.

      No one calls them on what could end up being the biggest scandal in American history:  the gop selling out an entire nation's security (financial and physical), health, equality and freedom from persecution, happiness . . . future . . . in the name of cynical partisan politics.

      The scope and degree of suffering that they allow and create just to further their agenda with no concern as to how it actually affects anyone out here in reality-land is staggering.

      Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

      by delphine on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:20:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm going to have something more to say on that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thomask, SoCalSal

      My eyes jumped out of my head when I read that.

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