Cruising home on “Little Safari” Labor Day Weekend 2017 (Photo Credit: Pensacola Vibes)
Sometimes the emphasis of my nautical lifestyle blog intersects with my profession and background in urban planning and coastal zone management. This is one of those times. I chose my nautical, hometown, “paradise out the back door” theme very intentionally because that’s what I love. Hurricane season…not so much, and she sure is making her presence known this year. I’m reminded again of how we have to take the good with the bad when you settle along the Gulf Coast or anywhere else for that matter where you’ve claimed to have found “paradise”. Hurricane season wasn’t supposed to be part of my theme, but then again, I’m just getting started.
I spent my Labor Day weekend on M/V Safari out at Ft. McRee and boy was it was gorgeous. Yet, as Labor Day weekend was winding down, Hurricane Irma was winding up and starting to rattle a few nerves along the Gulf Coast. I was back in work mode soon enough (the weekend quickly becoming a distant memory), and busy preparing to attend the annual conference of the American Planning Association (APA) in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was just a matter of time before I was sitting in a classroom at the conference wondering why on earth I boarded a plane and flew into this chaos; especially given that my profession is in “Planning”. It begged the question…why do we hold our annual APA conference in peak hurricane season? Shouldn’t we of all people know better?
Photo: Ft. McRee/Labor Day Weekend Raft-up 2017, (Seaclusion, Safari, Red Red Wine and Waiting On A Name)
Even more irony (or not), the conference theme this year was “Rising to the Challenge”. The challenges from the threat of sea level rise, polluted waterways, road congestion, and economic blight just to name a few. One of the mobile workshops on the third day of the conference (which by now had Irma breathing down our necks) was a tour of the impacts from Hurricane Matthew last year, the hurricane that created a whole new coastal inlet to the sea. That was one tour I was going to miss because I suddenly had a plane to catch.
While everyone else was on the tour bus (seriously!) I was waiting in Delta’s six-hour call back queue so I could move my flight up and get the heck out of dodge. Other conference attendees were getting uneasy too, they were mostly from central and south Florida, and unlike me, they didn’t need a flight, they needed to go and board up their homes. Attendees that had any distances at all to drive were wondering if they would be able to find enough fuel to make it all the way home.
If you’ve ever been through one of these monster storms then you know it’s a sickening feeling wondering if you’re going to get stranded somewhere. What was that reality TV show…Survivor? You get marooned some place horrible and then must fend for yourself to survive. WHATEVER!
Despite the chaos from the approaching hurricane I did have the opportunity to gain insights into a few new resiliency and adaptation strategies for coastal communities. Although I would hardly call the idea of “quit pouring so much dam concrete everywhere, and while you’re at it quit draining your wetlands” a new idea. But nonetheless driveways keep getting bigger and wetlands keep getting smaller in spite of the consequences.
Grabbing a new buzzword or two to take home from these conferences is also a must. My favorite (or not so favorite rather) was from Juan Mullerat, Founder, PlusUrbia Design, who talked about “climate gentrification”, or rather the physical displacement of residents from their homes (there’s a lot more to that term but I’m gonna leave it right here for now). It’s plain to see though that millions of people from all walks of life have been displaced from their homes since Harvey and Irma have been making landfall and they have a long road ahead of them.
Waterfront homes are an ever-increasing liability. Properties with higher elevations are fast becoming residential hotspots for the obvious reasons. I too prefer a calm after the storm, not just before the storm. One way or another our love affair with the water is costly. I’m afraid my love affair continues…for now.
See you in the blue ocean friends.