After Hurricane Ian, a low-lying Florida city starts to rebuild. Should it?
In just a few short months, Hurricane Ian destroyed much of Panama City, Florida, making whole neighborhoods of homes, businesses and churches uninhabitable in their flood-prone city for months.
As soon as the hurricane passed, city leaders and local officials began to plan for the return to life, with the emphasis on returning people to their homes and businesses, and rebuilding their city. Here’s what happened when the city finally got underway.
The first signs of rebuilding and the challenges of rebuilding in a city so devastated by a massive storm are slow in coming.
Just a week after the storm made landfall on Sunday morning, city leaders began holding meetings, seeking input from residents, city staff, consultants and a variety of outside speakers. They planned to hold them two, three or four times a week for the next month.
In the space of a few short months, the city has come to realize that the post-Hurricane Ian rebuilding process is going to take even longer than expected because of the fact that there is no single team of city professionals who can build the city that has been ravaged by the hurricane.
“The process we’re going through right now is like putting a puzzle together,” said David Allen, the city manager of Panama City. “Now that the puzzle has been assembled, it’s all up to us to put the pieces together, and that’s not going to be easy.”
The city’s rebuilding plan starts at the source: The city must rebuild its core infrastructure, starting with rebuilding the electric grid, which will be the city’s backbone.
Allen and officials in other cities in Florida and throughout the country are in a race to build the electrical grid of their cities, in part because those grids are critical to making the city a functional and livable place in the months after a large storm.
The electric grid is the electric transportation system of a city, so if it’s not functioning it will become difficult to move