In the 17 years we lived in that house, we had 2 floods where between 1 and 2 feet of water filled the basement. By the second flood, we kept nothing of value down there. Flood insurance costs over the period more than tripled from around $800/year to more than $2500/year. We made only one claim for $1600 after the first flood in all that time.
When buying our second house, we made sure we were not in a flood zone. The Sudbury river runs through the town, however, and cut off parts of the town for over a week in April 2010.
I told this history to explain why I was so amazed at the destruction and rebuilding happening on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, where we spent our recent vacation.
We stayed in a lovely house with 4 other families. It was just across the road from the beach. From the top floor we could see the ocean out the front windows and the bay out the back.
|The house we stayed in sat in a swamp near where there had been an ocean breakthrough in a recent storm.|
The house 2 doors down to the right was tilted and condemned. The third house to the left had no ground left underneath it. The supports that held it up were in a swamp. Its pool sat unevenly and was filled with swampy water. Surprisingly, there was a FOR SALE sign in front of that house.
|Notice the swampy pool and house standing in water.|
Across the road on the beach, a family camped in their house with no water or electricity that had lost its first floor. Each day the owner worked to replace it. The stairs to the house were not complete. The inhabitants carried up their supplies on a ladder to the first stair platform.
|Notice the ladders up to the stair landing.|
|The orange and white sign on this house gave spa rules, but the hot tub was gone.|
As I walked along the beach early each morning I pondered, "How do people buy here? Why do they rebuild when they've watched houses next to theirs fall into the surf?" I thought about the rising sea level and stronger storms expected as our climate changes. It made me so anxious.
Then I thought about how much my family enjoyed coming to these Outer Banks beaches, how the kids (and adults) loved playing in the warm surf. I thought about how much fun we have spending time here with a large group of friends. What if I were willing to take more risks? There are owners here who take the risk and get to live in this vacation paradise. They don't vacation here for a week. They get to walk the beach any day of the year. But they take great chances.
In my life, I often feel like I'm preparing for the worst. I'm insuring against a dangerous future rather than living well in the present. I doubt I could change so much that I could buy a flood prone beach house, but I'd like to take more chances, fret less, and have more fun. Seeing how people in precarious situations move forward is an example to challenge me.