The Day the Sun Goes Down

After Hurricane Ian, a low-lying Florida city starts to rebuild. Should it?

It was the day the sun went down. A storm had devastated the city of Miami and most of southeast Florida. Most of the buildings on Main Street were in ruins, toppled by winds of 155 miles per hour. The police chief was telling a reporter, “The only thing you could compare this to is Pearl Harbor.”

A city had been destroyed. The people had been trapped by winds of 155 miles per hour for days. The mayor, the police chief, even Miami’s mayor, was powerless to act. People who had to stay in their homes had nowhere to go, and many couldn’t afford to leave. The mayor was trapped in his house, the police chief was trapped in his home, and the mayor and the police chief had to try to reach the people trapped in their homes by telephone. It was a scene of devastation that would change not only the lives of residents of Miami, but also the lives of those who live in other low-lying areas of Florida.

Hurricane Irma hit Florida last week with even greater fury. It destroyed large swaths of Florida, then threatened Puerto Rico. It is still far from over. But the threat of this storm has made some people nervous.

After Hurricane Dennis in 1981, then a Category 4 hurricane, the city of Gainesville got an infusion of money to rebuild its streets, libraries, parks, and public housing projects. After it, the city of Jacksonville rebuilt after the 1993 hurricane, again using funds received from grants from the federal government. In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where some of the worst damage was done, the mayor of New Orleans asked for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After the storm, the city rebuilt after FEMA grants, and the mayor then asked for grants to help with the rebuilding of the city.

The federal government funds the National Flood Insurance Program, which has more than $

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