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Hurricane Sandy is a still unfolding disaster, and even though I am safely ensconced in Bend, Oregon, the suffering of those innocent people is apparent, and that saddens me. But, what really bothers me is the thousands of people exposing themselves and their property to foolish risks. Take for example the people living on a sand spit called Mantoloking (lat/lon 40.04 -74.052). It’s located slightly off the New Jersey shore out in the Atlantic Ocean. It is connected to solid land by a beautiful bridge, but during the so called super-storm Sandy some of the bridge collapsed. Not the whole thing, and it will be easy to repair, but a bridge with a chunk missing isn’t much use, especially if you are seeking a quick escape from a hurricane. The terminology super-storm was generated by the media because the term hurricane was no longer applicable because, as bad as it was, it still wasn’t even termed a category 1 hurricane when it came ashore. There are far worse ones in terms of wind speed.

It would seem that people living in such a precarious situation as a sand spit would at least have a secure route back to solid land. Now, these people aren’t exactly poor refugees confined to an offshore ridge of sand washed up by the sea, because they can’t afford better housing. Check out today’s Zillow.com houses for sale for Mantoloking (click + +). The prices will surly change tomorrow, but today most of the 28 homes for sale range from a 1 million dollars to $13.9 million. It would seem that people who had enough money to own such an expensive house would have sense enough to take care of themselves, and at least have a good bridge.

Mantoloking bridge

Mantoloking bridge. The link to the richest borough in New Jersey. Population 334 winter, 5,000 summer. Source SpiegelOnline

Heading north 36 miles we come to a similar situation, where people are out on a sand island community called Breezy Point (lat/lon 40.557, -73.919). It too has very limited access back to solid ground. But this time it didn’t get blown away, or washed away; instead 111 homes burned away, partly because the fire equipment couldn’t get there quickly enough during the storm. These homes are not so expensive, but still they average $500,000 on Zillow.com (click + +).  Property is so valuable that they are crammed together like sardines in a can. On seeing such a dangerous location a sensible person, concerned for their safety, would avoid it. The tight proximity of the houses even prevents the owners from parking their cars near their homes, but instead they are walking distance to outside parking lots. Thus fire can jump easily from one house to the next, which it did. The point is:

When you take unnecessary chances with Mother Nature you are going to get smacked sooner or later, one way or another.