First of all, it's not all that unusual to have a storm like Irma in the area. Despite the inconvenience of lack of power for days due to fallen trees, high water in low places including a number that were not expected, the eighty mile per hour winds were mild in comparison with what it could have been. And the rain? Well, after a very wet rainy season the added fourteen inches received during the storm did what they do in any area like this: they caused flooding, lots of flooding. But flooding is not unusual in East Alachua County, what creates the problem is politicians and developers continually thinking they can build massive communities in places where they should never be in the first place. The more they create the worse the problem gets; it's not just in Florida but everywhere where promises made are generally promises not kept.
Take the picture which accompanies this commentary, which is typical land in this part of the state. The water table is naturally high, but at this particular time it was already at it's maximum level so the water had nowhere to go but up. It doesn't create disaster in a low, rural area, just inconvenience, but if the same area was in the midst of huge development projects anyone in such an area would be under ten, maybe fifteen feet of water. And as far as the proposed large developments, with zoning to the maximum capacity allowed, they would likely either be under water themselves or sinking. Build your house on a bed of wet sand and things don't turn out too well.
If you don't believe that, take a look at what they did in Houston, Texas. They took a piece of land, lower than most, and made it into the center of a large city. The result when nature took it's course, disaster for thousands upon thousands. And they can't say they weren't warned since the same area had a major flood in 1936 when the city was much smaller. Water either has to runoff or be absorbed in the ground, but when you create a giant cement base or cover the preponderance of the land with homes and driveways and roadways, water has only one thing it can do. The water runs off to the lowest place which gets all of it in a rushing cascade.
Florida has a history of making the same mistakes over and over. It has gone on over a century to the delight of unscrupulous politicians and land schemers. Even on the coast where huge structures are built near the open sea, when disaster comes it is made much more dramatic by the crush of humanity caught up in it. Yet, for the greed of some and with the stupidity of others, it continues. So what will happen when this area gets a direct hit by a storm like a Harvey, or Maria or Irma? It will be destroyed with the cost of repair and replacement and the loss of life likely being horrendous and man will have no one to blame but himself. But the real problem is the blameless will be hurt the worst while those who created the mess will have moved on with the money made from creating the problem in the first place.
In addition to the destruction of the beautiful ocean and the natural beauty of Florida including the wonderful springs and wild nature of internal Florida, the Sunshine State will be an overpopulated disaster waiting to happen. Why not instead use some common sense and follow the lead that nature provides us as we develop? Just look around at the signs that nature provides; they tell us what we need to know if we only pay attention.
We dodged a bullet this year although many, particularly in the southern part of the state suffered dramatically. Isn't it time to learn from our mistakes or will we just continue with the same-old, same-old until the truly "Big One" comes? That's a question we all need to ask.
Let's save some of Florida. We don't need a high rise in the middle of a swamp nor do we need to waste our precious water that is needed to sustain life. Otherwise, we can just change the name to South Jersey and let the tourist trade go somewhere that will be worth visiting.
That's my story and after our rain and stormy summer, I'm definitely sticking to it. Florida is worth keeping as Florida, not just another cookie cutter state where all things and places look alike. We'll be better for it.