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Geologists Warned of Washington State Mudslides For Decades

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the always-better-in-retrospect dept.

Earth 230

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The Seattle Times reports that since the 1950s, geological reports on the hill that buckled last weekend, killing at least 17 residents in Snohomish County in Washington State, have included pessimistic analyses and the occasional dire prediction. But no language seems more prescient than what appears in a 1999 report filed warning of 'the potential for a large catastrophic failure.' Daniel Miller, a geomorphologist, documented the hill's landslide conditions in a report written in 1997 for the Washington Department of Ecology and the Tulalip Tribes. Miller knows the hill's history, having collected reports and memos from the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s and has a half-dozen manila folders stuffed with maps, slides, models and drawings, all telling the story of an unstable hillside that has defied efforts to shore it up. That's why he could not believe what he saw in 2006, when he returned to the hill within weeks of a landslide that crashed into and plugged the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, creating a new channel that threatened homes on a street called Steelhead Drive. Instead of seeing homes being vacated, he saw carpenters building new ones. 'Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river,' says Miller. 'We've known that it's been failing. It's not unknown that this hazard exists.'" (More, below.)"The hill that collapsed is referred to by geologists with different names, including Hazel Landslide and Steelhead Haven Landslide, a reference to the hillside's constant movement. After the hill gave away in 1949, in '51, in '67, in '88, in 2006, residents referred to it simply as 'Slide Hill.' 'People knew that this was a landslide-prone area,' says John Pennington. Geomorphologist Tracy Drury said there were discussions over the years about whether to buy out the property owners in the area, but those talks never developed into serious proposals. 'I think we did the best that we could under the constraints that nobody wanted to sell their property and move.'"

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230 comments

Scientists warned of global warming for decades to (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609019)

And still not much is being done to stop it. Wait 30 years and you'll see this same article here, only referencing global warming.

Insanity.... (2)

AltGrendel (175092) | about 4 months ago | (#46609027)

...is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result - A. Einstein.

Statism.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609091)

... Is stealing money from hard working people and giving it to the government over and over and over again. Einstein was a statist and so are you.

Re:Statism.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609109)

Your transparent attempt at a forced analogy rides the fail whale big time.

Re: Statism.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609139)

And we have a communist president now, so there's no chance for sanity anytime soon. At least 2016 he'll be gone.

Re: Statism.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609259)

And we have a communist president now, so there's no chance for sanity anytime soon. At least 2016 he'll be gone.

...and, barring a Democratic candidate implosion, he will be replaced by someone from the same party. 2012 was the Republicans' election to lose (Obamacare, the economy, etc), but when you looked at the candidates they proffered it's no surprise they were crushed by Obama. Romney was about as exciting a candidate as the prospect of drinking a bowl of warm spittle. I still can't understand how the moron thought he had a chance of winning at any point after August. Did no one in his party read 538 or RealClearPolitics?

(One ironic outcome: Obama mocking Romney in the debate after Romney claimed correctly that Russia is a geopolitical opponent. Yes, I'm sure Putin's quaking in his boots due to your Crimea-related sanctions. That's why he deployed even more troops on Ukraine's border...)

Anyway, look at the GOP field. Check RealClearPolitics about prospective matchups. None of them stand a chance in hell of beating Hillary unless she guts herself somehow. Hell, practically none of them can beat *Biden*, and he is basically the red-headed stepchild of the Democratic party.

Re:Statism.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609323)

You fascist fuck. As if life is any better under private ownership, hahahahah good one! Next thing you'll tell me is work harder to get ahead, right? hahahahhaaha I'm not that stupid anymore asshole.

Re:Insanity.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609219)

'Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river,' says Miller. 'We've known that it's been failing. It's not unknown that this hazard exists.'"

And for some reason you expect government to be magically MORE competent with the far more complex and on-going issue of managing health care. Consider that local governments are not nearly as corrupt as large governments...

It's like the people who want government health care in the USA have never heard of this alien concept called a "track record". We act shocked, again and again, when the same assholes who let us down before let us down once more. Gee, didn't see that one coming. Tell ya what, when FDA and Congresscritters stop owning stock and taking jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, perhaps they will do a better job of regulating. Remember, it's magically not insider trading when a member of Congress does it because they exempted themselves!

If Europeans enjoy more competent and less corrupt governments, good for them. Americans don't.

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (2)

flyneye (84093) | about 4 months ago | (#46609255)

Look at the story after this, California quakes.
I theorize that seismic activity shook the mud loose. I cite Samuel Clemens standing on Nicola Teslas vibrating platform as proof of concept.
California shakes and Washington took a dump.
Its Scienterrific!

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609405)

But there is only 97% agreement that it is happening...

Never underestimate the stupidity of humans if they are getting something out of it or they have ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46609441)

Since a report about it landed on President Johnson's desk we've already had the 30 years plus change.

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609611)

The stupidity of a bunch of people that believe academics can afford better publicity people than oil companies is amazing. This is exactly the same thing. The geologist states facts once and thinks it's settled. The housing developers have a staff of people who keep asking different officials uni they find one who listens. Then they keep commissioning secret reports until they find a tame "expert" land slide denialist. When they find this person they pay a huge amount more to publish the report.

These are people who are killing people for money. Even of the denialist "expert" is an idiot who never realises what he's done, the industrialist behind him knows exactly what is going on. What should we do?

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46609685)

>What should we do?

Charge the developers with manslaughter, at least?

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (2)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#46609713)

But... but.. personal responsibility!

Currently the idea of being 'responsible' only covers your own life, whatever you do to others, as long as you made a profit, is their own fault.

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46609833)

Exactly. Did the developers make perfectly clear to the buyers what risks were involved? If so they're off the hook, if not...

Ditto on resale - did the fully-informed previous owners pass on the dire warnings to the new buyers? If not, then *they* are the ones on the hook for manslaughter.

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 4 months ago | (#46609727)

Man keep up with the conspiracy theories! The intelligentsia illuminati KNOW global warming is real, but it will helpfully kill off most of the imbeciles with famine, drought, and pestilence on a biblical scale right about the time that automation put them out of work anyways. This prevent revolution, and allows the technocracy to implement "changes" that may deprive liberties but will allow the remaining knuckleheads to survive, which will encourage them to accept that privacy is dead, and that Zombie Lincoln is their new overlord.

</Tongue In Cheek>

Oh I'm sorry, did you want a serious answer? ;)

Re:Scientists warned of global warming for decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609943)

Not 30 years. 300 years. The great-great-great-great grandkids may just curse current generations for fucking up the world. And not just AGW.

The question then is . (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609021)

So who do they sue ?

Re:The question then is . (0)

flyneye (84093) | about 4 months ago | (#46609265)

Im sure theyll link it to the Ex-Lax manufacturing facility nearby.

Value (1)

KraxxxZ01 (2445360) | about 4 months ago | (#46609025)

Having actions taken would destroy value of properties in neighborhood. And that would be catastrophic.

Muh freedoms! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609035)

"I wanna build that wood-made doll house on the side of the collapsing hill, on a shore of a constant tide, at the bottom of a restless avalanche, in the way of a hundred hurricanes, next to an ever-flooding river, at the feet of a volcano! And you ain't gonna stop me!"

Re:Muh freedoms! (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 4 months ago | (#46609321)

I'd mod the AC up.. thats really the point here. If people want to build and live in a dangerous location then they have to accept the risks.

Re:Muh freedoms! (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46609485)

San Francisco (earthquakes), Rabaul (in the caldera of a volcano that exploded, then has started coming up again), Auckland (sort of like living on top of Yellowstone, but it wasn't obvious until a few years ago) and even Chicago (If the New Madrid earthquakes happen again that place is rubble) are examples that people do want to play those odds.

Re:Muh freedoms! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609559)

the problem is they don't necessarily accept all the risks. Money talks and in many places they don't pay the true cost of insurance. Subsidize people's premiums and what you get is a shitload of houses built on the floodplains or 30m from the shoreline because the view is pretty.

Re:Muh freedoms! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46609455)

I wouldn't mind if it were just made out of wood. But it's also made out of PVC and galvanized steel and all kinds of other things that I don't want burned up, so at minimum I don't want people to be permitted to build houses that are likely to burn down even if there is no particular fire danger to others. And I certainly don't want people to be able to have significant generator fuel storage without spill containment, or where it's likely to be pushed into a river by a landslide.

I believe in people's right to do stupid things, until it's going to be a pain in the ass for me. Or lungs.

Re:Muh freedoms! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609549)

Basically, yes. Throw in a dash of the "government is doing it", and you've pretty much captured the sentiment that many people have when told they are proposing to build in a dangerous place. Often, they already own the land, and will complain bitterly about the loss of their investment if they are later told how dangerous the location is.

As a geologist, I'm mostly fine with people building where they want when it comes to risks. As long as: A) you sign a declaration and submit it to the local government indicating that you have been informed of and accept all of the risks inherent to that very dangerous site; B) that such a declaration be attached to the deed and any bill of sale so that if the property is transferred to someone else they will know of and be bound by the same terms; C) you're on your own when it comes to getting house and other property insurance; and D) you pay into some kind of private emergency rescue fund rather than expecting government emergency personnel to put their lives at risk trying to get you out of there when it all goes bad.

No taxpayer-funded bailouts for that kind of informed, free, but stupid choice.

Alternatively, people could be rational about it and not build there, but if they insist on not being rational about it, then they should be forced to do so on their own dollar.

This is not to diminish the feelings about the losses in this tragic case, but if people were well-informed about the risks and built there anyway, they have to live with the consequences. And if they weren't well-informed, then heads should roll.

Re:Muh freedoms! (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46609701)

Hear, hear.

Re:Muh freedoms! (3, Interesting)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#46609737)

One tricky part there, people have children. The adults who buy the land and sign the documents might be able to understand the risks (I say might since the risks are probably presented to them through a filter), but their children can not... so right there you have a population living within a dangerous area who have no control over being there nor do they have the ability/resources to purchase their own private ways of being safe.

Re:Muh freedoms! (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 4 months ago | (#46609947)

I'm afraid that you are right.
An interesting article in the NY Times today talks about that very subject:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03... [nytimes.com]
Basically, if you try to prevent people from building where it might be unsafe, you run up against all of the "freedom" people and greed and "guvmt meddling" people.

'Murica! (4, Funny)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | about 4 months ago | (#46609043)

Why do they hate our freedom to build somewhere incredibly stupid and dangerous?

Re:'Murica! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609053)

Freedom to live where you want. Freedom to die under a layer of mud.

Re:'Murica! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609075)

I support your freedom to die under a layer of mud. I don't support your freedom to bury your children under a layer of mud.

Re:'Murica! (1)

someone1234 (830754) | about 4 months ago | (#46609191)

Why not, that's pure Darwinism.

Re:'Murica! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609891)

You're a fucking idiot.... Too bad your mom didn't have you aborted. Pure Darwinism.

Re:'Murica! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609245)

I support your freedom to die under a layer of mud. I don't support your freedom to bury your children under a layer of mud.

How exactly were you expecting natural selection to work?

Re:'Murica! (2)

Arith (708986) | about 4 months ago | (#46609105)

Jokes aside, I never understood why people live in KNOWN dangerous places.
There was a small town near my hometown. My boss at the time lived in this small town. Every year around spring time that small town would flood. My boss' house would literally have a moat. Tells me how tough he's got it because he has to move all his stuff from the bottom floor to keep from getting wet. I had a hard time finding sympathy for him. Why? That entire small town was BUILT ON A FLOOD PLANE.
Then again that town had a nickname "Scorched Liver" due to the excessive drinking observed in this town.. perhaps explains a bit there.

Re:'Murica! (4, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#46609167)

> Jokes aside, I never understood why people live in KNOWN dangerous places.

Because it's only one factor. Farmers value the fertile land where floods deposit soil, and it's rarely feasible to live very far from the farm. Traders value the shipping made easier by river or ocean traffic near river heads, but those are likely flood areas. Damming and irrigation and dikes can actually _change_ the shape of the flood plain, making formerly safe areas profoundly more dangerous. Industries rely on the river water or hydro-electric power, and long commutes to work are a subtle tax on every worker's time every day.

Would you pay double the price of your current home, or apartment, to live in a safer place further from your work? Could you afford it?

Beach houses (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609349)

When it comes to beach houses, nothing can be done to protect them from hurricanes. But people still build huge homes there. A hurricane comes by and wipes them out, the President declares a disaster area, government (taxpayers) pays to rebuild - rinse and repeat.

See, the wealthy people who own beach houses also have the political clout to get us peons to pay for their luxuries.

What we need is to just say, "Sorry, you build on the beach and your house gets smashed by a hurricane, tough shit. Eat it."

Re:Beach houses (1)

Arith (708986) | about 4 months ago | (#46609547)

True. I can appreciate that. In some cases - like the ignored warnings in the article, or my drunkard town - it's just plain dumb and there ARE places to go. Hurricanes and large scale events like that, sure. Not much to be done there. I wouldn't be so cold to say "Eat it"
What Antique Greekmeister said above: "Would you pay double the price of your current home, or apartment, to live in a safer place further from your work? Could you afford it?" - If I were in my little town? Yes. It's better than potentially drowning/dying under a collapsed foundation.

Re:'Murica! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46609531)

I'm in the same boat but it's two floods in a century and built not long after another flood a bit more than a century ago. Ten feet from the ground to the floor and it doesn't even lock up underneath. In the last flood I just moved stuff upstairs and left the place for a week just so I wouldn't have to be the sort of idiot that stayed and had to be rescued off a rooftop if the flood was bigger than expected.
It's like how other places have to deal with fires or tornadoes. The expected can be dealt with. Of course with landslides that seems to mean living somewhere else.

Re:'Murica! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609589)

insurance rates should be sky high in such places, but of course the taxpayer subsidizes personal choices of these people.
Subsidize risky behavior, you get more of it.

Re:'Murica! (4, Interesting)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#46609761)

On the other hand, subsidizing risky behavior lowers your own costs for living in safer regions. If all the people living in flood plains, tornado alleys, hurricane magnets, etc, all decided it was too risky and moved, what do you think it would do to your cost next time you wanted to move?

Re:'Murica! (1)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#46609747)

We are kinda running out of nice places to live. On an individual scale we can ask 'would you pay more to live somewhere safer', but if we extend that out, well, there are only so many nice and safe places, if people stop living in the dangerous areas it will drive the prices of other areas up and they will go right back to living in the bad places.

Re:'Murica! (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 4 months ago | (#46609961)

We have a situation near us in the community of Squaw Valley with is a (duh) valley with steep slides where there are avalanches in heavy snow years (not this year due to global warming). There are houses in the avalanche paths so they are required to post a large sign on the bathroom door warning people that the house is in an avalanche path.
I guess that's the best they can do.

Re:'Murica! (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 4 months ago | (#46609995)

Jokes aside, I never understood why people live in KNOWN dangerous places.

Actually, there are damn few places in the US that are not subject to some type of natural disaster. http://www.datafoundry.com/dis... [datafoundry.com] And this does not include the power grid killing ice storms... And southwest Texas, while nice from a natural disaster standpoint has a rather large man made disaster of the drug trade and related crime to contend with. So, where are you going to live?

Re:'Murica! (0)

lemur3 (997863) | about 4 months ago | (#46609313)

yet again i saw another image of an american flag over the ruins of a home being spread around in the media in the disaster zone...... reminding me of this:

Children there's an image in the media right now of a man in a tornado landscape that is devastated and he is taking the flag, the American flag, the stars and stripes, and he is going up to a point in the earth, I think it's the roots of an upturned tree, and he is planting it, like Iwo Jima, like the firemen after 9/11.. and now, I do hope that he finds the strength he needs from America, and his family, and the neighborhood that he lives in that has been suffering this violence..

But that image has now gone out across the media and a friend pointed out to me recently that its now been seized on by Fox News and it seems as if these people want the earth,.. where these tornadoes, and typhoons and tsunamis, and the fires, the droughts, the floods... think that these attacks on us are supposed to be coming from some kind of enemy.. and now we're gonna 'Defend America' against these attacks.. And it seems as if these same people, who have appropriated this man's sincere gesture, at the same moment that they're supporting these illegal habitual American wars, at the same moment, they are the climate science deniers. They're making our next enemy the Earth itself, the Earth itself..

How can that be? No! The Earth is expressing. The Earth is speaking. There is violence, but we must listen.. we are the Earth ourselves, we can't be our own enemies.. There's a place for patriotism.. of course. But now is the time to get on our knees.... EARTHALUJAH -Reverend Billy Talen

Re:'Murica! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46609545)

Take a look what poor funding for mental health has done!

Liberals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609339)

Why do they hate our freedom to build somewhere incredibly stupid and dangerous?

Because this mudslide was predicted by Liberal geologists who wanted grant money from the government.

The home builders were listening to the conservative geologists who recognized the alarmist sham of the mudslide warnings by those UnAmerican Liberal geologists who want to ruin our Way Of Life (tm).

Not much different than. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609087)

New Orleans, Miami, to name but two cities that will be gone in 100 or so years from rising sealevels.

There are plenty of government reports that say all new construction should be banned in areas that will be flooded in a century... People want their oceans views though, and then there is the 'value in the land'. As soon as you order someone they can't do something with their land, they are at the very least entitled to compensation, and those costs, based on fair market value are just to high for the government to cover.

The most effective thing government could do in danger areas is require insurance companies decline coverage or keep cash available for the inevitable if they wish to insure the property(raising rates for those customers). The more timid, or poor will likely skip building their new home knowing those enhanced costs/risks.

Pollution aspects aside, there is no shortage of humans; when in the future millions are made homeless after X hurricane, perhaps just a stiff 'to bad so sad' attitude would be better, as they have plenty of warning.

Incidentally, I live on oceanfront property, and am 'now' taking measures to protect it for my maximum possible life expectancy.
Insurance is $500/year per $10,000 coverage; and doesn't cover vandals and a few other likely needs for insurance. I'm of the view that putting money into the property directly might benefit me more than giving it to some insurance company(That, lets face it, might not payout if something did happen).

Re:Not much different than. (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#46609161)

New Orleans, Miami, to name but two cities that will be gone in 100 or so years from rising sealevels.

Umm, no. At least for New Orleans. We already have levees around the city to deal with hurricane flooding. Raising the levees a foot or so per century really isn't that big a deal.

Re: Not much different than. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609301)

And when the levees break? Katrina part 2. (And don't say it won't happen)

Humans may win the battle against mother nature, but mother nature will always win the war.

Re:Not much different than. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609327)

Depends what sea-level projections you believe.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise#Projections

Sounds like most put it at 13" in ~35 years, some as much as 78" in ~85.
I'm protecting for 3 additional feet minimum.
Then of course there is the storm surge when actual storms hit...

Re:Not much different than. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609573)

Yes, it's not as simple as raising the levees. If the same amount of sea level rise also floods large parts of the natural terrain that is outside the levees, then you'll be facing the storm surge and waves much more directly rather than having it buffered by the land out in front of the levees themselves. New Orleans will start looking like Venice -- completely surrounded by a submerged lagoon. You'll either need a second tier of levees or (as the Army Corps of Engineers is starting to do) years of investment in diverting regular Mississippi flow to dump sediment into those swamplands to keep the land surface maintained at a comparable level.

Re:Not much different than. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609377)

Umm, no. At least for New Orleans. We already have levees around the city to deal with hurricane flooding.

??? Can't tell if serious. Were you living in New Orleans in 2005? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not much different than. (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 4 months ago | (#46609649)

Umm, no. At least for New Orleans. We already have levees around the city to deal with hurricane flooding.

Which prompts today's trivia question:

What British cover of a old American blues song starts off with what may very well be the greatest drum break in the history of rock and roll?

Re: Not much different than. (1)

chill (34294) | about 4 months ago | (#46609821)

The song started playing in my head as soon as I read that phrase.

Led Zeppelin When the Levee Breaks. [youtube.com]

Re: Not much different than. (2)

chill (34294) | about 4 months ago | (#46609841)

The song started playing in my head as soon as I read that phrase.

Led Zeppelin When the Levee Breaks. [youtube.com]

Re:Not much different than. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46609781)

Those New Orleans flood walls are already a joke. Another foot of rising sea level, plus the inevitable higher storm surges will easily knock those over.

If you want to see how to build proper dikes, look at how its done in the Netherlands. They build very deep embankments rather than thin vertical concrete panels. But to do this in New Orleans would require acquiring a wide strip of land on either side of the waterway. Given the nature of individual property rights in the USA, its not likely that this could be done. So to protect people's waterfront property, the rest of the city will have to live at risk of more breeched walls and flooding in the future.

Re:Not much different than. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#46609911)

If you want to see how to build proper dikes, look at how its done in the Netherlands. They build very deep embankments rather than thin vertical concrete panels

Oddly enough, if you actually drive around the peripheries, you'll find exactly that sort of levees. Some of which have vertical concrete panels atop them (mostly as sound/sight barriers, not to stop floods).

Re:Not much different than. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609945)

Not sure if this should be taken as funny or batshit insane.

Like living near a train track. (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46609097)

We have the same problem with evacuations from hurricane corridors. Immediately following a destructive storm, citizens evacuate as recommended, for a while.

At some point the urgency wanes, the storm turns at the last before landfall again, and fewer people leave their homes.

Since the '50's is way past most folks' attention spans.

Re:Like living near a train track. (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46609135)

The hurricane situation is a lot stupider than this one. The states force insurance companies to provide insurance to everyone and dictate that the rates can't be too high. So the insurance company raises the rate state-wide to cover the costs of the people living in the most prone areas. My mother-in-laws Florida home that just sold for a whopping $60k had premium that was $5000 per year before she sold it. That's INSANE. But the majority of the states revenue comes from the coast so that's what they protect.

Re: Like living near a train track. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609155)

We'll for that little, the house is disposable so why bother insuring?

Re: Like living near a train track. (3, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46609765)

Ask yourself this - if you consider a $60k house "disposable", how likely are you to live in a $60k house? And if it's not disposable, then here's a fair chance you have a mortgage. And if you have a mortgage then the bank will require insurance. And even if you don't have a mortgage you still have to consider the odds that something will happen to your house in the next 12 years - the "break even" point where you would be better off just saving the money.

Re: Like living near a train track. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46609927)

The breakeven point is only 12 years if you assume the insurance company will pay off on time and full value with no fight. The only things insurance companies do on time and full value is collect premiums. At least they will short you by the amount low enough not to make it worth your while to hire a lawyer.

I'd put estimated break even verses a total loss at 8 years, depending on how you value the time you will spend fighting insurance company.

Re: Like living near a train track. (1)

anagama (611277) | about 4 months ago | (#46610031)

Don't forget to subtract the value of the land. The house might blow away, but the land will still be there and it must be worth some amount over zero.

Re: Like living near a train track. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46610037)

Most people do not have $60K to pay for a house up front, though they might well have $400/month to pay for insurance. Cash flow.

Re:Like living near a train track. (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 months ago | (#46609513)

It is annoying. Although, in looking for supporting information, I found some mitigating information instead: [fema.gov]

In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 which calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the NFIP is run. As the law is implemented, some of these changes have already occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders. The changes will mean premium rate increases for some - but not all - policyholders over time.

Crying wolf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609101)

They were warning for *decades*? Wolf! Wolf!

Re:Crying wolf? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 4 months ago | (#46609179)

Not quite the same thing. Nature works at its own pace, but when you have geological evidence you should take heed of it. Geology can only help so much, because the exact time element is where things are fuzzy. On the flip side there are geologists who are more cautious about announcements and then get put in jail (case in Italy) - it's hard to win when everyone wants a scape goat.

For me it's like buildings or bridges that were built badly. You know they will fail, but not when. You know when the failure happens it won't be a pretty sight.

Re:Crying wolf? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609759)

And the hill slid FIVE TIMES during those decades, before the most recent slide. Definitely a case of crying wolf; how were the towns people supposed to realize the wolf was real after only seeing it five times?

Should have kept his mouth shut.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609111)

Now this high falutin 'geomorphologist' has made himself a target for the local government and the victims who are looking for someone to sue.

Well, yeah, but PROFITZ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609113)

No risk, no mad money. Sure, it's their risk and our money, but let's not dwell on details.

Anti-scientific attitude in US (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609123)

This is what happens because of all these reality deniers in the US.

They think they're being "skeptical" about science, but actually they're just willfully ignorant.

Climate change has become pretty much impossible to reverse, since it's been ignored for so long.

All kinds of horrible diseases are popping up again, because of all those anti-vaxxer morons.

"God bless America"

So for 50 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609131)

This guy was wrong. Then, finally, after decades of fear mongering, he managed to look like he was right. This is not science, this is a rain dance.

Re:So for 50 years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609273)

This is why science and math are important. People simply do not understand the nature of predictions nor time scale.

Re:So for 50 years (2)

anagama (611277) | about 4 months ago | (#46610039)

No -- this hill slid five or six times in the last 60 years, and he said it's gonna keep on sliding. Back when, people weren't building there. More recently, probably with a little help from the housing bubble, people built it up.

Contradictory news (2)

thsths (31372) | about 4 months ago | (#46609137)

The story in the news was particularly "funny".

It starts with "and then the slope collapsed without any warning".

Later it stated that "scientists warned of the risk in a report 15 years ago".

So how is that "without any warning"?

And I hate it when they say "scientists". They don't say "celebrities", "politicians", "football players" - no, they use names. But scientists always remain nameless. Scientists are not amorphous magicians, they are people like you and me.

Re:Contradictory news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609175)

Wut? I always thought they came in just two flavors: the nutty abstracted professors and the evil hysterical laughing doctors.

Re:Contradictory news (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#46609181)

So how is that "without any warning"?

So, if someone said to you, "your house is likely to catch fire in the future", and then your house caught fire 15 years later, you'd be thinking "damnit! I was warned this would happen, I should have listened to that guy 15 years ago and moved"??

And I hate it when they say "scientists". They don't say "celebrities", "politicians", "football players" - no, they use names. But scientists always remain nameless. Scientists are not amorphous magicians, they are people like you and me.

Why? If they'd said "Robert Johnson said...", would you think it more plausible?

They use celebs, pols, and ballplayers names because they expect that a large fraction of the populace would recognize the name.

They skip the scientists' names because (with a few exceptions - Hawking, Einstein, people like that) most everyone wouldn't recognize the name. Calling them "scientists" at least gives their pronouncements a cachet of respectability that they wouldn't have if the announcement were "David Caulton announced today that..."

Re:Contradictory news (2)

Barsteward (969998) | about 4 months ago | (#46609367)

"So, if someone said to you, "your house is likely to catch fire in the future", and then your house caught fire 15 years later, you'd be thinking "damnit! I was warned this would happen, I should have listened to that guy 15 years ago and moved"??"

if that person said it would catch fire in the future because of faulty wiring (or something else) then i'd fix the wiring.

Re:Contradictory news (4, Insightful)

rabtech (223758) | about 4 months ago | (#46609629)

So, if someone said to you, "your house is likely to catch fire in the future", and then your house caught fire 15 years later, you'd be thinking "damnit! I was warned this would happen, I should have listened to that guy 15 years ago and moved"??"

if that person said it would catch fire in the future because of faulty wiring (or something else) then i'd fix the wiring.

Ah, the arguments of the willfully ignorant. I wish I were still a conservative. No nuances, no questions. Everything had a trite simple answer.

Reality does not so neatly fit into a box.

House fires happen rapidly. They are also largely preventable. And even though one person's house fire may be a tragedy, pouring water on it puts out the fire. (Remember kids: the fire department exists to prevent your house fire from burning down the rest of the city, not to save your house)

Mudslides, like earthquakes, are triggered by complex conditions that are not knowable by humans in advance (with any degree of certainty). They also cannot be prevented or controlled. There is no "Mudslide Department" because there is no response. By the time you find out about it, the mudslide is over and the damage is done.

This case is very simple to explain: no one wants to be the person who "wastes" taxpayer dollars buying out homeowners and tearing down houses when the potential disaster can strike anywhere between tomorrow and 50 years from now. So county officials, housing developers, and maybe to some degree homeowners all chose to ignore the report and get on with their lives. That works great, right up until the moment when everyone died.

Re:Contradictory news (1)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#46609809)

Or better yet, "there is a tire fire over in the next lot which will eventually spread to your house"

Re: Contradictory news (2)

14erCleaner (745600) | about 4 months ago | (#46609579)

Here in Colorado Springs, we've had two catastrophic fires in two years that destroyed 850 houses. People are rebuilding in place, and the media celebrates their resolve. At least it'll take a few years for the fuels to accumulate again, but you have to wonder sometimes...

Re:Contradictory news (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46609183)

And I hate it when they say "scientists". They don't say "celebrities", "politicians", "football players" - no, they use names. But scientists always remain nameless. Scientists are not amorphous magicians, they are people like you and me.

If they listed all the names of scientists who have warned about this since 1950, there wouldn't be room for anything else on that page.

Money trumps science (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609153)

As a tech working in Southern California with a B.A. in Geology, I can tell you that most geologic reports that are prepared are typically all but ignored by developers, leading to many problems down the road, and occasional tragedies such as this. I know of a large building built in the San Andreas Fault Zone that did not have the proper footings in place, and has sunk as a result (not from any earthquake, but from the nature of the fractured strata beneath the site), costing more taxpayer money to save it (this being a state institution).

Geologist warnings serve more to set insurance rates then to avoid issues, and many lives have been lost, and will be lost as a result. Geologist by the nature of their science look at the land in terms of what will happen over time, while Developers are concerned with only if their investment will pay off in the short term, assuming the added risk as just an increase in insurance costs taken from their bottom lines.

Re:Money trumps science (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46609815)

'Developers' build state institution buildings on spec? State buildings are built by the state, usually based on a bond issue. Clearly the problem is not with the developers alone.

one warning came to pass (2)

a2wflc (705508) | about 4 months ago | (#46609213)

Think of all of the warnings we hear from scientists/experts.

Mudslides, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes - there are lots of places we just shouldn't live because some day there will be a disaster.

Bridges, buildings, subways - there are lots of man-made structures we need to repair. some will collapse

Diet, medicine, excessive - it will harm society if we are allowed 20 oz drinks or salt at the table.

We could probably list legitimate warnings all day. And I'll probably experience dozens of things today that scientists have warned about. This situation is tragic but it doesn't mean anyone is to blame. With 1000s of warnings from scientists, some will happen - but most don't.

  If there's anywhere to focus it's on how to evaluate and prioritize warnings across a wide variety of areas (natural disaster, diet, structures, etc). We don't have the resources to fix everything we are warned about - where do we start?

The other thing we may want to learn is that the media should not over-hype all warnings. People need to know better what warnings to pay attention to. When we watch the news and scientists say "just about everything you do today" may kill you (or the planet), why even try to fix anything?

Re:one warning came to pass (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46609439)

Think of all of the warnings we hear from scientists/experts.

At once? I'll try.

We could probably list legitimate warnings all day. And I'll probably experience dozens of things today that scientists have warned about. This situation is tragic but it doesn't mean anyone is to blame. With 1000s of warnings from scientists, some will happen - but most don't.

[citation needed]

WWHHHHAAAATTT?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609311)

They ignore science when it doesn't suit their interests .... color me shocked

Mud slides and Katrina (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609345)

This reminds me of the Corps of Engineers urging enlarging the levees on the Mississippi years before Katrina, and the coastal scientists at LSU warning what would happen if coastal erosion went unchecked. The issue here is that we have, and have paid for, the knowledge needed to take precautions in cases like these. Then don't do it. People who makes the decisions not to act on this knowledge out to be charged.

Re:Mud slides and Katrina (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46609831)

Also note that federal money was allocated for levee improvements. It was sent to the local government, who spent it on tax subsides for Casinos.

Charging the local government would be 'racist'.

Geologist? (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | about 4 months ago | (#46609519)

"Hey Sharon! Come look at the crap I just took!"

What about the hill next to that one? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 4 months ago | (#46609571)

Undoubtedly, some geologist, meteorologist, seismologist or other expert has condemned every hill, valley, riverside, coast, flood plain, swamp, open plain, and so forth in the United States. Undoubtedly, every square inch of the United States is uninhabitable. Still, you have to live somewhere.

Re:What about the hill next to that one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609669)

Look mommy! It's a Luddite acting like an ostrich

Old news... (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 4 months ago | (#46609753)

This is decades old news.

Thinning The Herd... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46609797)

It's called "thinning the herd," or "culling." It weeds out the idiots so that, a) ...they may not reproduce; b) ...they, and their offspring, may not perpetuate that gene line forward. Either way, I consider the deaths a win-win for humanity.

Indian names (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46609829)

There's a story in Washington State that all of the river names here, Snohomish, Skykomish, Skokomish, have the postfix "ish". Which is an Indian term meaning "This is a flood plain, idiot. Don't build your house here."

Re:Indian names (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46610021)

There's a story in Washington State that all of the river names here, Snohomish, Skykomish, Skokomish, have the postfix "ish". Which is an Indian term meaning "This is a flood plain, idiot. Don't build your house here."

But by "Indian", do you mean Hindi, Punjabi or Urdu?

Regulatory capture kills (2)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 4 months ago | (#46609985)

Whether it's the regulators overseeing the Deepwater Horizon being captured by the oil and gas industry, or whether it's local politicians being captured by the Finance/Real Estate sector, the results are usually bad for the society. And occasionally, they becomes spectacularly lethal.

To overcome the persistent regulatory capture of the US government, two things must occur:

1) Overhaul of the campaign finance system (so politiicians will be more inclined to work for their constituents not their highest bidder).
2) Term limits (because power corrupts).

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