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Friday, May 04, 2007

The hurricane gene

Hurricane season is fast approaching and I can already see the headlines: “Three Quarters of a Million Residents of Florida East Coast Urged to Flee”… geeze, CNN again!

In 1856 four great storms invaded Florida in one season and in less than 6 weeks at that. In 2005, 5 major storms made headlines and pushed the insurance industry over the edge, by that I mean they edged into record profits. The average cost of home insurance, including wind, has tripled since 2005.

The Florida legislature, last month, cunningly passed a measure of relief by requiring Florida homeowners to buy storm shutters (average about $40,000 per household) before any building permit will be granted, say for a new roof or perhaps a replacement garage door.

Meanwhile Newt Gingrich says he doesn’t think the rest of the country should have to pay into a disaster fund so “folks” can live on the beach. The former U.S. House Speaker said on a nationally broadcast interview, "If people build in high-risk areas, and you know it's a high-risk area, there should be some way to internalize that risk in your insurance costs. That's probably very unpopular with people who would like a free ride."

But, it’s probably OK with people in river flood zones, or tornado alley and the tinderbox hills of Beverly, right Newt? No “free rides” for anybody then OK? OK.

I remember Dean Hamer's opus The God Gene. Hamer, who authored another classic the Gay Gene, has these epiphanies. If genes can account for God and genes can make you gay then why not envision genes that can get your ass kicked by a hurricane; The Hurricane Gene.

Now, while I'm not a geneticist and I don't have the entire genome code stored anywhere on my hard drive - though it's probably imprinted somewhere nearby - I have a fair understanding of the root science; hey, I have a degree in English Literature for Christ's sake! Anyway, I figured that if God can plan to make us gay or devout why not give us a gene to make us live in Florida? I mean, if he/she wanted to, he/she could give us a gene that said we had to live in California, I suspect that would be called the Earthquake-McSchwarzenegger gene.

Anyway, I've survived a number of these insurance storms, most, without Newt, and for that I'm grateful. I seem to have a gene, which according to my reading of Hamer's genetic protocol, makes me a survivor, not the TV type but rather, you know, the disaster type and so I wanted, on the eve of another hurricane season, to go on-record with the theory that jeans, not genes, control our fate and if you're fortunate enough to live in Florida you better have good jeans (genes).

Postscript:: This article was`written prior to the storm event, which destroyed Greensburg, Kansas. The power of storms to inflict so much damage, although seemingly repetitive to some locals is profoundly more random than we imagine.

Our sincere sympathy to all the victims of last week's tornado. Please go to the American Red Cross or your favorite charity and give what you can to help the survivors of Greenburg.