Knowing In Part 

 A collection 

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Benton Rogers

Samuel Morton

Sidney Collins

Andrew Jones

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Wind is blowing
Read the post below. Then read this from Instapundit. The wind is blowing and the trees are creaking.
Trees of Knoxville and 9/11
Last week, East Tennessee experienced a not-uncommon severe thunderstorm. You can read the local coverage here. Not really a big story. As happens in the summer in the southeastern part of the US, a storm blew through the region and knocked down trees. If not for some details, it would be a non-story. This thunderstorm (winds were only 55mph) caused a power outage to more residents than the Blizzard of '93.

If you are not a native of the South, then I will take a moment to point out a few critical details. #1 55mph wind is merely breezy compared to the winds of a tornado or hurricane. #2 Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes are expected weather phenomenon in the South. My wife and I lived in Hattiesburg, MS before relocating to Knoxville while I work on my Ph.D. During one summer, we were without power three times in a week due to weather.

The scary part of this storm story is the number of homes that were damaged by trees falling.

This story of three people escaping a home does not illustrate the magnitude of divine providence involved. I drive by this home on my daily commute to the University of Tennessee. The very small dwelling was crushed by a very large tree. Just looking at the home, you wonder how anyone survived. I cannot find a written source, but the media covered a family in which a father pulled his infant from her crib and retreated to the basement moments before a tree fell and destroyed the infant's room and crib.

What is peculiar about the story is that we have become so immune to reason in current society that we accept this as normal. We do not look ahead. Last year an East Tennessee community lost all but a few homes to a killer tornado. In the South, we use the term "killer tornado" to indicate the difference between a common tornado and one that causes death.

Yet, today power is restored and we will not think of it again until the next severe weather (which we expect any day).

What is needed is not a lone solution. We need the government, utility companies, private industry, and residents to take coordinated short and long term action. Type "Florida Building Codes" into your browser's search engine. You will see that Florida has taken the steps to combat the issue. Many insurance companies left Florida after Hurricane Andrew destroyed so much property and so many lives were lost. Building codes were updated. Utility lines were buried. Private industries began producing new and specialized products. Residents began upgrading homes.

A tree split and took out the swings on our church playground. Looking at the tree, the portion that fell was in bad health. More than a few people have spoken with me about the tree and the HIGH COST of getting a tree removed. We had dinner with some friends in their new home and they had already identified trees that needed to be removed. Yes, tree removal is expensive. But home repair is MORE expensive. Our friends are preparing to have the trees removed. My wife saw a fellow police chaplain on TV coverage of a tree that had landed on his home. He had unsuccessfully attempted to get his neighbor to remove the tree for several months. A portion of the tree had fallen previously and crushed the chaplain's wife's car.

The tree that crushed the small home in the story above had no root ball. It was a massive tree, yet the roots were only surface spreaders and did not go deep. You do not need to be an trained arborist to see Knoxville's problem - TREES. We have trees planted too close to homes, trees planted directly under power lines, and trees that were planted in poor soil conditions. I quote from the Big Book of Duh, Vol II, Unabridged that "unhealthy trees will fall in strong winds." But if you mention this to homeowners, they roll their eyes and tell you about the astronomical costs of tree removal.

I suggest the following interventions: #1 All new homes (and subdivisions) must come with a soil analysis and tree plan that gives the owner options and limitations for the types and locations of tree plantings. #2 Insurance companies start looking at splitting the cost of tree removal with the homeowner. Survey each property for risks and hazards that should be removed before costly repairs are needed. #3 Underground utilities. #4 Building codes that encompass trees (especially trees in your neighbor's yard).

Everyone working towards a common goal.

You may think this has been a long read. You may also wonder what the trees of Knoxville have to do with 9/11. Remove tree from the story above and insert terrorist. You can read a very thorough account of the relevant history prior to 9/11 by Ann Coulter here (though Ms. Coulter puts her usual political slant on it).

9/11 was not a matter of "if". It was a matter of "when". Our response has to occur on multiple levels with coordination. Airlines, the UN, the US, the CIA, the FBI, the NTSA, the US Dept of Transportation, the US Coast Guard, all need to get on the same sheet of music. The wind will blow again and trees will fall.
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Samuel's Bloging Status
Its good to see that Sid has completed his cumulative exams and is posting.  I am not sure what happened to Andrew (I'll poke at him on the phone Monday) and Ben seems to be too busy "living it up" in California to post. 
I on the other hand have a wonderful justification for my lack of posting:
I just moved to Easton, PA to join Lafayette College's Chemical Engineering Department!   The move combined with completing my dissertation has knocked my out of the blog loop lately.  Combine that with the fact that I do not have access at home yet (that can't happen until early August).  SO, it looks as if we are going to have to rely on Sid for a while. 
 The floor is all yours.


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