Beanz

Hurricane survivors? This is not the answer

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Stilt housesThese things are totally bizarre, traditional mansions jacked up in the air on stilts to get above the floodlines set after Katrina and Sandy blew through. There used to be a real vernacular of houses built on stilts in the south, but they tended to be light and small.

Sure they are a great renewable resource with a very low carbon footprint, and architects have probably done a good job using locally-sourced materials.

But they are just ridiculous things as ordinary suburban-style neocolonials and ranch houses are being jacked up on sturdy wooden or concrete piers ten or 20 feet in the air, the heights dictated by the Base Flood Elevation set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and enforced by insurance companies.

These crazy houses fascinate me because most of them make few concessions to the fact that they’re not built at grade. They look as if someone has played a cruel joke on the owners, as if the family had gone out to dinner and come back to find their house out of reach.

They may be a contemporary (or just temporary) answer to the annual hurricane cull along this stretch of coast, but there is another answer. Take up your families and MOVE.

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