The great equalizer

Hold your applause, Trump critics. Mar-a-Lago came through the storm OK. Well, three trees came down, and the parking lot flooded. Some of the landscaping is thinner, and  debris litters the south road. Trump’s 126-room Palm Beach winter White House and its surrounding 17 oceanfront acres have survived for 90 years. The mansion’s walls are three feet thick and are anchored by steel and concrete beams embedded into coral rock.

Many other dwellings, as we know, have fared much less well against the fury of Harvey and Irma. Hurricanes don’t care about the state of our personal finances. In coastal Texas, on islands in the Caribbean, the Florida keys and elsewhere, homes have been eliminated from the landscape or severely damaged. Lives have changed forever. Some have ended.

When the fates of poor and middle class residents dominate the news reports, we are inclined to overlook the gleaming high rise hotels that line Collins Avenue on Miami Beach. Some of these destination towers sport multiple swimming pools and outdoor party venues facing the ocean. Chaise lounges, tables, chairs, portable bars, beach umbrellas, rolling cabinets that house supplies, everything that can move must be taken inside for protection. Big job. Windows are taped or covered with plywood. The costs of storm damage to such properties can be enormous.

A wise old Frenchman I knew years ago liked to say that life’s two greatest equalizers are the outhouse and the grave. He might have added hurricanes to that.

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