Frozen wastelands

The view from our neighbor's yard toward our back porch.  A few months ago, you wouldn't have been able to see our house from there at all.

And from the opposite side of the house, close up.  What could be more beautiful than a warm, lit-up house in the snow?  You can see the pergola we're just starting to build, and some startled banana trees near the stairs.


E Hines said...

What could be more beautiful than a warm, lit-up house in the snow?

A warm, lit-up house in the verdant green and warm evenings.

You have fun with your snow. I gift you ours when it comes.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Nothing is more beautiful than a warm, lit-up house in the snow. Trekking through the cold, knowing that the lights represent fire and warmth and -- later in the day -- a cup of something cheerful.

Texan99 said...

They did go ahead with the workshop. In retrospect, perhaps they weren't displeased with the idea of depressed attendance. It was a pretty appalling presentation by a FEMA guy, who basically said, "Yeah, you have total local discretion to do some things that aren't barred by the FEMA rules, but if you do, and we decide your heart isn't in the right place when it comes to spending oodles of money raising existing homes, we'll just do a hostile audit of your compliance procedures so you can get kicked out of the flood-insurance program." He wasn't even embarrassed to make the threat publicly. Nor did the Commissioners seem to understand what was offensive about it.

Our county imposes an extra 18-inch elevation requirement over FEMA rules on new construction. People with storm damage that will cost 50% of the value of the home will get treated as new construction and will have to raise their houses 18 inches. Try and imagine what that costs. The county could rescind the extra 18 inch requirement and still be fine under FEMA elevation standards, but if we do, FEMA threatens to audit us into submission. Nice. Asked how people were supposed to come up with that kind of money when their insurance won't cover it, he explained that some day in the future a bunch of grant money may show up, so not to worry. Oh, and another nice touch: these people weren't damaged by flood but by wind. If they'd been damaged by flood, their flood insurance would kick in $30K to raise the elevation to meet county rules. But since it was only wind damage, no money for that. Some people might say that's a good reason not to make people lose flood-related grandfathering when they suffer wind damage, or is that just me? Here's an amazing bit: the FEMA guy thought it was a terrible idea to abandon any of the County's extra elevation requirements, but he was particularly offended by the idea that we might keep the extra height requirement only in the low-lying Special Flood Hazard Areas. Why, he said, what would be the justification for treating people differently just because they live in or out of the SFHA? (Isn't that the whole point of how the maps work? And what FEMA does with them?) My appreciation for federal regulators is at a low ebb this morning.

raven said...

If there is no difference in risk between a special flood zone and an adjacent area, exactly how far does the adjacent area go? He probably thinks people should pay the same collision insurance on a Ferrari as a Ford Focus.

E Hines said...

Follow the money, Texan99. I suspect there's some "lobbying" money from builders going in the general direction of FEMA bureaucrats.

Eric Hines

Christopher B said...

It's more likely just an institutional mindset. I work with some people who just don't seem to be able to grasp the concept that you can have standard procedures A B C but if condition X is present you need to do D E F.

douglas said...

Or maybe some of all of the above. Many times, interpretations and directives on application come from above, and the field level bureaucrats don't even know what the issues in making the decision were, they're just doing as they're told.

"People with storm damage that will cost 50% of the value of the home will get treated as new construction and will have to raise their houses 18 inches."

Wow. Even here in La La Land, remediation is not treated as 'new' construction- I don't even think if it's over 50% valuation. That's nuts to make remediation have to conform to new code requirements. I suppose they'd try to justify it based on it supposedly being a life-safety issue, but that's really not fair as it's more a reduction in property damage issue.

douglas said...

To Mr. Hines comment- Growing up in Southern California, I remember the first time I ever had to dig out of a snowstorm. We were in the Sierras and about 18-24" fell overnight. I was elated. I happily dug out our van before the guy who cleared the condo complex parking lot got over to us. Of course, I was a teenager then, full of energy. If I had to do it regularly, at my age now, I know I'd be far less thrilled about it, to say the least.

Texan99 said...

I'm bemused by the mindset, particularly in a guy who works with federal flood insurance mandates, for Pete's sake. If you have a continuum, and you draw a line in it somewhere to decide where you'll impose a tough mandatory federal flood insurance program, can you really be shocked by the fact that people on one side of the line will get one treatment and people on the other will get a different one? If you don't like that result, you could write the law so that everyone gets insurance, but your premium varies smoothly with the exact elevation. Ack! Artificial boundaries result in discontinuities! Stop the presses! Get rid of tax brackets, age limits, breathalyzer standards!

Frankly, this guy was a huckster, with the bad car-salesman's tactic of constantly changing the subject whenever he sensed he was being driven into a corner with the truth. I shouldn't waste too much time imagining his thought processes, which probably had little to do with the theories he was expounding. The common thread was not, "Is this true and does it make sense?" but "How can I confuse and bully you into adopting the policy I support for whatever obscure reason?"