NewsNation: Should Florida residents rebuild after Hurricane Ian?

Should Florida residents rebuild after Hurricane Ian?

Residents in Florida are beginning to rebuild after Hurricane Ian. But should they? Host Ashleigh Banfield poses the question to Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, and Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute, who outline the risks people face when living in coastal areas.

Hi PeregrineTrader, how did Hurricane Ian affect you down in the Keys ? Hope you made it thru OK !

I’ve been following the aftermath a little bit, the actual hurricane looks terrifying, but the storm surge and the flooding are huge problems for people.

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Joe, last Monday, I had to put down my boy, Razah Cat. I cried 'til my ribs hurt.

I am glad the hurricane did not hit that Monday, as I would not have wanted my boy to suffer the discomfort and fear from hearing the accelerating winds, the rain beating on the roof, the boom of thunder, the racket of flying palm fronds hitting things outside.

Overnight, we began to see the winds pick up between Monday and Tuesday. We lost power only twice, once for two hours and the second time for 15-30 minutes.

Ian never got above 70 MPH gusts in my domain. And when the surge hit, it was low tide (this is the time of year Kings Tides make many of our roads impassable in the Keys). Being so far away from the eye (it was more than 60-100 miles from Key West which is west of where I live in the Keys), I knew that wherever Ian was going to hit, those people had better be evacuated and already up the road.

There was minor damage throughout the Keys. Newbies in Key West lost some scooters, cars, belongings, etc., if they did not listen to older locals cautioning them to park all vehicles in town. It never ceases to amaze me how people living a block or two from the ocean think a tiny two-foot storm surge will not affect their lives.

Seeing the damage here early Tuesday, I thought, “When this thing hits the warmer Bayside waters, it’s going to be more powerful than when it came off Cuba.”

And that is what happened.

Later Tuesday night, I was shocked to see reports that there were people on barrier islands off the West Coast of Florida who decided to ride the storm out. Knowing places such as Captiva, Sanibel, Pine Island, etc., I called my landlord and asked, “Did you hear there are thousands of people up there on the barrier islands who decided to ride out a Cat 4?”

Overnight we monitored the storm. Then with the dawn’s first light and videos starting to pile up on youtube from handheld cameras, we knew the loss of life in this storm was going to outweigh what we saw during 2017’s Irma here in the Keys.

We in the Keys came through Ian unscathed, except for the Haitian immigrants who capsized and landed in the Keys during the storm’s arrival. Many of those poor souls drowned.

I do not own this oasis where I live next to a Nature Preserve. In this jungle, no one will ever build. Its just us brave souls at the end of a dirt road and the wildlife. My landlord loves me and has never raised my rent. I know his insurance premiums are going up, but he has never once asked for a rent increase. However, my yardwork (gratis, not paid, because it is my therapy) has increased the value of this place by $500,000 or more in just the past 3-years. So, it is a good trade-off.

I harbor no wishful thinking about what is happening in the Keys: overbuilt, too many people, desecration of holy grounds for animals, be it on land or in the waters, insurance premiums higher than your monthly mortgage payment… The Keys cannot expect hurricanes to lessen their intensity in the future. Insurance rates will reflect this. And only the rich will be able to afford a home.

My landlord might have to sell due to higher insurance rates.

If that happens, we plan to move to Canada. Somewhere, such as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland. Near the ocean, but high above.

I’m thinking of places I’ve visited in Canada where I never saw plastics, sandwich wrappers, Styrofoam, and other litter every few feet on the highways. Rural areas up that way are so pristine that you can view pure nature, where wildlife thrives undisturbed. And the aurora when she comes to the night skies is a way I would love to fall asleep!


Canada is not all that far for me, a few years ago took a road trip on the north shore of Lake Superior for some camping and hiking. The Michigan Superior shoreline is pretty great, and so is the Canadian Superior shoreline. It was really clean, didn’t see any debris on the side of the road, at least once I got out of Sault Saint Marie, which is a good sized urban, industrial area. I’m starting to think I have more in common with Canadians than with Americans, or at least some Americans. Definitely want to do some traveling in the Canadian West, and the maritime Provinces. Not getting any younger, lol, gonna have to do it someday soon.

Glad to hear you and the rest of the Keys escaped Ian relatively unscathed. 70 mph winds in a low laying island are no joke, ya’ll are some tough people to ride that out. I’ve seen pictures of Sanibel, not looking good there.

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“Should Florida residents rebuild after Hurricane Ian?”

Of course. Conversely, should lands susceptible to hurricanes, or earthquakes, or tornados, or forest fires be abandoned as unlivable?

That’s an absurd question.

Fortunately these events do hit often and damage is variable. That makes these risks insurable. Insurance rates should incorporate the odds making insurance more costly in the riskiest areas. High insurance costs will likely make some spaces less attractive for residences.

Those who still want to live there should be allowed but should not expect endless government bail outs. They buy expensive insurance or they take the loss when their number comes up.

Fortunately these events do hit often and damage is variable. That makes these risks insurable. Insurance rates should incorporate the odds making insurance more costly in the riskiest areas. High insurance costs will likely make some spaces less attractive for residence.

Paul, there comes a time when no insurer, not even the insurer of last resort, the GSE known as Citizens, will still offer insurance to people whose homes were wiped off the map. We see this in the Middle Keys after Irma.

If the State of Florida were smart, we would buy up all the newly vacant lots with just a concrete pad and utility ties ins still intact (we had entire streets of homes wiped off the map back in 2017’s Irma up in Big Pine Key) and then rent them out to RV vacationers.

The monthly fees (none of this $ABNB BullScheisse of nightly or weekly rentals which is ruining neighborhoods throughout the Keys) would mean the state insures the water/sewage lines for the RV hookup and we won’t need to insure a concrete pad in case of another storm as big as Irma.

There are areas of Fort Myers Beach, which will never rebuild due to what is about to happen in insurance rates. That locale might want to buy the underlying land and rent it out to RV vacationers.

Fact: you can’t rebuild a home without insurance in the Keys if you’re not super-wealthy. And the Federal Government is getting tougher on supplemental flood insurance, and outright denying coverage to people building or rebuilding on the ocean.

Why should taxpayers who don’t live in Florida extend flood insurance to people who absolutely, positively don’t believe in sea level rise, stronger hurricanes, and who are 100% against socialism?

Insurance - or lack thereof - is going to force many a middle class or upper middle class homeowner to take their payouts - if they have any - and run farther inland or abandon Florida altogether.

"It will take years for Florida to recover from Hurricane Ian. For many Floridians, there won’t be a recovery.

Officials have linked around 80 deaths to the storm and subsequent flash floods — a tally that’s expected to climb in the coming days. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power. Entire communities have been wiped out by what Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has labeled a “character-altering event” that will force the state to reckon how its communities are built and financed.

Fixing the state’s tattered insurance marketplace will be central to those discussions."

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p.p.s. When Key West is under 100 feet of water and turned into a National Underwater Theme Park for scuba divers, there won’t be any homeowners anywhere in the Keys, nor will there be roads for EVs, or concrete pad rentals for RVs.

As it is now, salt water intrusion is happening all over the Keys on the two daily high tides. On Kings Tides, we have roads disappear for days under a 6 to 18 inches of water. It’s like that two blocks from my house right now. Fish swimming across two of our three access roads. (We had fish swimming on that last unflooded road just last week during Ian.)

The areas right on the salt ponds near my house which have “For Sale” signs for just the land (much of it underwater, just like the access roads) makes me scratch my head. That land cannot be built on unless the prospect were to ship in mountains of fill dirt and then build a dike completely around your raised yard and home.

All new construction, even rebuilds, must be to codes which are becoming stronger by the year. All rebuilds and new home construction must be built on stilts with no enclosures in that downstairs area inside your pilings.

And if the concrete pad rentals is too hard for the State to watch over, I’d love to see underwater Florida become a National Marine Sanctuary in advance so as to help wildlife. No fishing in a Marine Sanctuary. No boats allowed in many areas. Quiet.


High insurance costs may make it difficult to get a mortgage in Florida. That alone may exclude many from moving to Florida.

But it would seem to favor those with lots of equity. Such as those down sizing from million dollar homes in the North. It could mean a shift in economics of the population.

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