Millions of people across a swath of America from Chicago to DC have been left without power in the wake of Friday’s ‘derecho.’ This storm is like an army of destructive ‘wind lords,’ linked into one united front, knocking down huge trees in its cross-country blitz. It is the largest wind event on record, with the widest area of destruction. The UK was battered on Thursday with ‘supercell’ thunderstorms, with more than 110,000 lightning bolts recorded in one day. That is a concentration fourty times worse than the average storm. In other parts of the world, fires are raging.
Last night, yet another of these wind bursts blasted the house. This morning, the tree was down in the other neighbor’s yard. We had power, since we feed from the local power plant. But these storms have exposed the very fragile nature of our current existence. We are dependent on one little electric line to link us to one power source. This line runs our refrigerators, our air conditioning, our computers, our cash registers, security systems, doors. In some cases, it is the guardian of water from pumps, from gas through controllers, and even air. Politically, we clamor for freedom, yet we have created a system of our very existence which ties us tighter than an umbilical cord. Early pioneers had it rougher, but were far more resilient than we.
So do I advocate returning back to survivalist strategies? Stocking my larder with a year’s supply of food? Not necessarily, but the motivation is worth examining. How prepared are we for these types of events? In addition to the emergency response to deal with the aftermath, are we doing all we can to mitigate the damage upfront? Are we designing structures to withstand such wind events? For the building shell to withstand puncture by debris propelled at over 100 MPH winds, or driving rain pushing past the exterior skin? Can we function without power for a few weeks? To stay cool, despite over 100° F ( >40° C) temperatures.
|LEED-H Habitat Home built with LOGIX ICF|