Should we have sympathy for flood victims?

Apr 5, 2008
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The recent floods in the UK have given me some major food for thought. With people displaced following severe flooding, I've got mixed thoughts on the whole thing.

Before I go any further, I will state categorically that of course I have sympathy for victims of flooding, earthquake, drought and other natural disasters. To watch fellow people suffer is heart wrenching and I would wish such suffering on no one. Loss of life, loved ones, homes and possessions is tragic and I only wish these people well.

With that said, for the sake of discussion there is a part of me that wonders if sympathy is deserved in all these situations. To extend this beyond the UK, I will include people in poor countries also who live 10 miles away from water, those who live in earthquake or tornado prone areas and so on. People voluntarily opt to live in these areas. They knowingly choose these parts of the world to make their homes when there are more hospitable ones available.

Now it comes down to each individual making a decision of risk vs reward. What are the benefits of living here vs the risk of living here? People live in Japan and San Francisco, both earthquake prone areas. I don't live there and yet even I know about their geographic issues. So when an earthquake hits one of those places, should there be sympathy for the victims? Should we be surprised and sad for losses suffered when a hurricane hits Florida or Louisiana, flooding hits Louisiana or Missouri and so on?

This is [http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/development/homes-built-in-flood-risk-areas-despite-warnings/6525946.article] an example of what I'm talking about. Local councils have greenlit development on floodplains, knowingly, ignoring warnings from the EA. Anyone who buys a home there will be living in an area almost certain to suffer from flooding and do so in full knowledge of this fact.

Also worth mentioning, for those living in areas for a long time who have the landscape changed around them, local councils who save money by ceasing river dredging and farmland turned to housing, etc, I do not question their suffering at all since the area was knowingly fine when they chose to live there. My question really concerns those living in high-risk areas. Should the taxpayer support the relief to these high risk areas? Should we feel sympathy for victims struck by a disaster that was easily predicted? What do you all think?
 

kurokotetsu

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Sep 17, 2008
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KingsGambit said:
With that said, for the sake of discussion there is a part of me that wonders if sympathy is deserved in all these situations. To extend this beyond the UK, I will include people in poor countries also who live 10 miles away from water, those who live in earthquake or tornado prone areas and so on. People voluntarily opt to live in these areas. They knowingly choose these parts of the world to make their homes when there are more hospitable ones available.
Wow. This is sooo flawed way of thinking I dind't even read the rest. You know you don't not necessarily opt to live in aplce. Expecially in poor countries. I live ina an earthwwuake prone zone, we've had severe tragedies beacuse of it and yet I live here why? Because even if I wnated I DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. You know, that part of being in a poor country and stuff. So just because we were born in a place that may be dangerous and we don't have the money (even when I'm relatively well off for my countires standards) to go to other areas. Hell, I couldn't even move within my own country. And I'm not one of those that are forced to live 5 meters next to a flooding river because they don't have the money to live anywhere else, not evne in this huge ass city and they lose everything in their lives in their small board homes, but what the hell, of course it is their choice. You speak out of huge ignorance and it is borderline offensive.
 

Barbas

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Oct 28, 2013
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It's probably the same reason people live in houses near receding cliffs - it's cheaper to. People buy what they can afford. If they could afford to live somewhere less wearying, I am reasonably certain they would. In the case of Japan, are there not serious issues with the available space and housing prices?
 

Jamieson 90

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Mar 29, 2010
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I have sympathy for people in most situations and scenarios, but if you KNOWINGLY CHOOSE i.e. buy and move into a house WHILST FULL WELL KNOWING that you'll be living in an area that is at HIGH RISK of FLOODING, and where there have been floods in the past, then I find it hard to be sympathetic in that case. However I'm sure there are many situations where that's not the case i.e. I don't think that 7 year old boy who died in Somerset chose to live there for example, nor can you help it if you're too poor to move or can only afford housing in certain areas.
 

Vegosiux

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May 18, 2011
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KingsGambit said:
Now it comes down to each individual making a decision of risk vs reward. What are the benefits of living here vs the risk of living here? People live in Japan and San Francisco, both earthquake prone areas. I don't live there and yet even I know about their geographic issues. So when an earthquake hits one of those places, should there be sympathy for the victims? Should we be surprised and sad for losses suffered when a hurricane hits Florida or Louisiana, flooding hits Louisiana or Missouri and so on?
Yes.

Our planet hates us and no matter where you live, something might happen. Like, my country, Slovenia, last week and the week before, it was literally encased in ice. Thanks to the temperature swinging right about zero Celsius, rain froze overnight, and a few days of that, most stuff was under 3-4 inches of ice. It destroyed trees, it snapped power lines, it made life quite unbearable, and the damage it did to our forests is in hundreds of millions, and that will affect our already troubled economy.

I was lucky, living in Ljubljana, so I was inconvenienced at worst but people living in other parts of the country took the brunt of it, were cut off from power, water and even means to get anywhere. 75% of schools were closed for damn near a week.

It was also not something that's happened in at least 50 years (and I assume massive earthquakes in San Francisco that kill people are rarer than that). But hey, it's their own fault, right?

Of course there's also the issue that just picking up and moving somewhere else costs resources, resources a rather significant part of the population, even in the first world, simply doesn't have.

Still, for the sake of the argument: Do you know of any location on our planet where one could be considered "safe" from the whims of nature?

Or rather, how would you suggest the population should be distributed around the planet?
 

dyre

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If you get shot/raped/mugged in a high crime area, no sympathy for you! You should've known that it's dangerous to live there!
 

MysticSlayer

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Well, for starters, the notion that you can somehow escape natural disasters by simply moving to some place more "advantageous" is ludicrous. What you may not face in one area you face in another. You might be able to escape most hurricanes by leaving Florida, but now what do you have to deal with? Whatever natural disaster tends to plague the people where you're now living.

And as for people in the higher risk areas where they do live, there's a very high chance that they're too poor to live anywhere else. Sure, that isn't always the case, and some people are just ignorant or foolish. However, most of the time, you're going to be dealing with normal people who likely don't have many other options, and those few other options are probably just as bad if not worse.
 

Eamar

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Jamieson 90 said:
I have sympathy for people in most situations and scenarios, but if you KNOWINGLY CHOOSE i.e. buy and move into a house WHILST FULL WELL KNOWING that you'll be living in an area that is at HIGH RISK of FLOODING, and where there have been floods in the past, then I find it hard to be sympathetic in that case. However I'm sure there are many situations where that's not the case i.e. I don't think that 7 year old boy who died in Somerset chose to live there for example, nor can you help it if you're too poor to move or can only afford housing in certain areas.
I grew up in Somerset, very near to some of the areas that are currently flooded, and my family still live there. This has never happened to anything like this extent before in my lifetime. Unless you're saying no one should live near rivers (or the sea), I don't really see what your point is. It's not like this is a regular occurrence; it's newsworthy because it's unusual.
 

Hero in a half shell

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Dec 30, 2009
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As a planner all the blame should always be on the councils, building control and the builders for being so greedy as to greenlight these builds in floodplains, whilst ignoring adequate flood defences.

Living in flood plains isn't so bad if you think ahead: ie. plan for the worst and build accordingly. That means if you know there is a danger of 10 foot high flooding then either build houses 11 foot high or not at all. It sounds extreme, but unless you are Aquaman it is necessary.
All the warning signs were there, it was the councils that ignored them, it was the Environment Agency that stopped dredging the river/building up the flood walls, it was building control that let the planning permission through, it was the builders that submitted the plans for these houses. That is where the development should have stopped, that is where the development could have been made flood-proof, but it wasn't and so that is where the blame lies.

Most of the people who bought houses there I'm sure never expected anything like this. Many of these people will be long term residents whose families have been in the area for as long as they can trace back, and never experienced floods like this.

Make no mistake, there are several strict governmental bodies put in place to stop exactly this from happening, and they failed. It's their failure that we should show no sympathy for, not the people who lived in the area, or moved there for professional/personal reasons.
 

Raikas

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Sep 4, 2012
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I will include people in poor countries also who live 10 miles away from water
So you'd be against the people who flip the flood right with a drought risk and/i] the opposite?

It's all balance - if they lived closer to the water, then they'd be more likely to end up as flood victims, right? There's always something.
 

Muspelheim

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Apr 7, 2011
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Of bloody course tax payers should support a relief effort in case of disaster. What is the alternative? Leaving affected citizens without help? What the hell would that be good for?

Practically every bit of land on this planet has got something wrong with it, something that could lead to a disaster, be it floods or wildfire or droughts or blizzards... It's a ridiculously arbitrary expectation to have, that living somewhere with a disaster risk should mean no relief or support in case of those disasters. Every single spot on the planet could lead to danger, and those that aren't usually go unoccupied for very good reasons. The spots that are less disaster prone tend to be filled or difficult to reach.

As for expecting sympathy, exactly how much does it cost a human being to at least be sympathetic? Bugger-all, usually. It costs you nothing. Nothing at all. Why is it worth constructing silly conditions to get out of sympathy free, when it is as easy as choosing not to feel sympathetic to unfortunate people. "I can't help, and I do not care to help", it is as simple as that.

Sympathy is an entirely individual choice.
 
Apr 5, 2008
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dyre said:
If you get shot/raped/mugged in a high crime area, no sympathy for you! You should've known that it's dangerous to live there!
Well you say that sarcastically, but here's the thing. I wouldn't go to Brazil on holiday, or South Africa. I simply wouldn't. I know from many accounts that the crime rates there are horrendous and that my very life could well be forfeit.

Now living there is different, I will grant, particularly with widespread poverty as the root cause of both the crime and lack of ability to relocate. But if someone chooses to go to those places on holiday, should I be surprised or dismayed if they're the victim of crime, violent or not? Don't take a ship near Somalia, don't holiday in Brazil or S. Africa, don't have sex anywhere in sub-Saharran Africa are fairly sensible rules in my book.
 

Scarim Coral

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Yes to a certain degree. Some people think that they had simply moved to that town without pior knowledge of the town background however some people had born and lived in that town and aswell had develop keep connection to their community of that town. Sure you can argued that they could of moved anywhere anyway (like a parent son or daughter move away to go to University) but for other it's not easy to depart from the community that you know and loved.
 

Parasondox

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Let me put this out there. I was born in Montserrat and still have family there. Before Soufrière Hills became an active volcano, many of the locals had no idea it would blow. They would go up to the hill each day and not know what was beneath. They choose to live on that island in the Caribbean for many reasons like growth vegetation and family history etc. When Soufrière Hills blew, I was on the island when it happened, everything changed and now half the island is uninhabitable and the capital is buried. Now in this case, they didn't know about the danger coming so do you think they don't deserve sympathy about what happened? They should have chosen somewhere else to live?

Haiti. Another country close to me cause that's where my mothers side of the family are from, know exactly whats been happening there in the past 10 years. A massive hurricane, Hurricane Noel, that dried up a large river that was needed for farming and then created a giant large lake that flooded flat lands and homes were lost. Then the earthquake from several years ago made things worse because there hadn't been an earthquake there for 200 years. The locals didn't know about that danger and i will ask the same question again, do you think they don't deserve sympathy about suffering those natural disasters?

Haiti is known as one of the poorest nation in the world, so as much as you can assume, they chose to be there, what other options is there if many can't afford to move? What other room on earth is there if the earth's population is rising but at the same time have sanctions to stop acres of forest being cut down cause it will effect the wildlife and cause more environmental problems. So I personally have 100% for those in the Somerset area because EA says "well you knew the risk" and saying it was there fault, what are other solutions for them? Have they forgotten the the UK itself is suffering from a housing problem where people are struggling to buy their first or new homes? We are having an over population here at the moment where even the government wanted to build on greenbelt land.

Now, I know you aren't blaming anyone, in which I admit I may have gotten a bit too personal here cause I know how they feel but saying to simply "move to a safer and different area" isn't so easy and actually quite hard in many cases.
 

Auron225

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No we shouldn't. And you're right about taxpayers money also. How dare the government waste money evacuating citizens and limiting flood damage to the country. It's gonna flood again so they may as well let all current development just stew there. And whats the loss of x many lives when over-population is a factor. Let em drown. They should have moved to a lower-risk area cus everyone totally has that option. It's not like they have lives or anything - they can just drop it all and move.

In other news, I love sarcasm.
 

Parasondox

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Oh and about the whole "Should the taxpayer support the relief to these high risk areas?", my answer is YES.

Would you rather taxpayers money go into bailing out the banks that take risk with peoples money in the first while they still pay themselves handsomely in bonuses? Or a train project, HS2, that cuts the journey from London to Birmingham by 15 mins or so while we already have a train network that develops more problems than a cut trying to avoid getting wet. Oh might I also add the very same HS2, THAT NOBODY WANTS, will cost the tax payer over £40 billion.

Yeah our taxes should go to those I mentioned above instead of those who need help.
 

Ryotknife

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Oct 15, 2011
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I can kinda see where the OP is coming from. Like for example, New Orleans is either at or below sea level in its various districts, and its continuing to sink.


On the other hand, if we take the logic about "well you shouldn't live somewhere that is dangerous," it would make most of the USA uninhabitable. Natural distasters hit virtually every corner of our country. Northeast has blizzard and nor'easterns (granted blizzards are more disruptive than destructive), Southeast has hurricanes, South has flooding, Southwest has forest fires, Midwest has tornadoes, West Coast has earthquakes, and Hawaii has a FREAKING VOLCANO. About the only natural disasters we don't have here are tsunamis.

Hell, we have locust swarms here......

That said, natural disasters is no excuse not to try to prevent or alleviate them, unless it comes out of left field. A hurricane in NYC, for example, is something out of left field that could not be predicted.
 

ThreeName

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May 8, 2013
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dyre said:
If you get shot/raped/mugged in a high crime area, no sympathy for you! You should've known that it's dangerous to live there!
Basically this. Everything carries risk, and all true tragedy deserves sympathy.

Life comes with risk. That's just how it goes. If someone gets hit by a runaway truck, you don't go "Well they shouldn't have left their house or been within 10 meters of a road because that sort of thing is possible, because it's a road!"

Fucking hell.
 

DoPo

"You're not cleared for that."
Jan 30, 2012
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So-o-o...flood victims were asking for it, right? And look at how the victims of earthquakes were dressed and how they act. Appalling! They totally deserve having bad shit happen to them - they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Based on this, it seems totally justifiable to turn a blind eye to the plight of people who have said bad shit happen to them.
 

Agayek

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Oct 23, 2008
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Vegosiux said:
(and I assume massive earthquakes in San Francisco that kill people are rarer than that)
Speaking as someone who was born and raised, and still lives, in San Francisco, I can tell you that in the last 25 years, there's been one major earthquake, in 1989. It was a bad one, big enough to collapse a small portion of the primary bridge across the Bay, but there hasn't been anything major since.

And the last big quake before that was in 1906. It destroyed half the city, but 83 years until the next big one kinda makes it acceptable.